8 Qualities of a Good Neighbor

We just moved to a brand-new community in Lewes, Delaware, and we genuinely want to be good neighbors. Perhaps you also want a great relationship with your neighbors.  Or maybe you’re just wondering what a good neighbor really is, or why some neighbors seem harder to get along with than others.

All good questions.  Here’s another:  Do good neighbors need to be extraverted and fun-loving to fit in?  If so, that would bode ill for me, given that I’m more on the introverted side of things…  We all appreciate those neighbors who are the life of the party, but that will certainly never be me.

Most of us, of course, wave at our neighbors when they walk past, and we sometimes lend them a bowl of sugar, or the occasional power tool, but I don’t think that necessarily makes one a good neighbor.

In the end, all neighborhoods/communities are comprised of different personality types; therefore, no one approach to neighborliness will click with everyone.  In a way, interaction with one’s neighbors is way more of an art than a science.

But fear not.  Doing some fresh research, I have spotted 8 specific attributes of a “good neighbor” that should help all of us who want to practice them.  Are you ready for the list?  Here goes…  Good neighbors almost always seem to be:

1. Friendly 

This doesn’t necessarily mean being affectionate or cordial; more importantly, it means being approachable and available.

By being available and approachable, you have a chance to know who your neighbors are and what they consider important.

Try to interact with your neighbors as much as you can. Welcome newcomers, introduce yourself, and participate in block parties and the like. (And, no, you don’t need to be the star of the event to be approachable.)

If you are part of a Homeowners Association (HOA), attend the HOA meetings.

You can learn a lot in these get-togethers, which I think is one of the most important reasons to be friendly. To be a good neighbor, you must first know your neighbors, which is critical for the next quality.  Which is to be:

2. Respectful

To be a good neighbor, you have to respect people. How do you show respect? Well, it is in the dictionary: to be respectful, you need to mainly be mindful of people’s feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions. 

However, in order to show respect, you first need to know at least some basic things about your neighbors.  Otherwise, you may not understand their feelings, wishes, and traditions. That’s why I consider being friendly critical. 

So, friendly is good, respectful is essential, and part of being respectful is to be:

3. Quiet

No, not miserable and silent.  (Miserable and silent neighbors are scary!)  Rather you should be mindful of making loud noises at the wrong times and of doing obnoxious things.   

Obviously, certain activities are only appropriate to specific hours of the day and night.

There are some exceptions – if you live in a neighborhood populated by youngsters in their twenties, maybe noise and loud music are welcome. But, in general, when it comes to noise (and being obnoxious in general) the following are considered best practices:

  • For late-night parties, don’t allow your guests to park their cars in your neighbors’ driveways.
  • Don’t start drilling or hammering nails early in the morning or late at night.
  • Don’t unnecessarily honk your car in the neighborhood.
  • Try mowing or vacuuming after 10 am to make sure you aren’t waking anybody else with loud noises.

And speaking of mowing, vacuuming, and cleanliness, we should all aspire to be:

4. Clean

Which, in this case, doesn’t mean taking a shower twice a day (though that’s your call). By “clean” we mean more along the lines of maintaining the curb appeal of your property, which benefits everyone.

Just doing regular outdoor maintenance can elevate the look of your entire neighborhood. These are some examples:

  • Mowing your lawn weekly and make sure no weed or grass is getting out of control.
  • Throw away trash as soon as possible rather than keeping it outside for days.
  • If you have extra bikes, ladders, or lawn equipment, keep them out of sight. To you, they are useful things; everyone else considers them eyesores.

Next, we should always try to be:

5. Helpful

A helpful neighbor doesn’t have to keep asking if you need help, but a helpful neighbor is ready to give help when you need it. It’s so reassuring knowing that ‘Annette’ in lot 8 is happy to lend a hand with your garden and that ‘John’ in lot 3 is always available to collect your packages when you are out.  By the way, helpful neighbors are also usually:

6. Mature

We don’t have to be 55+ years old to act like mature individuals.

A mature person controls his/her own emotions at all ages.  He or she is humble, modest, and considerate of other people’s feelings.

When you meet new neighbors, you will encounter different personalities, which can cause issues and misunderstandings. Mature people will try to minimize problems instead of exacerbating them.

Another quality of a good neighbor is being:

7. Trustworthy

You are trustworthy when your neighbors are confident that they can depend on you to do something. For example, if they trust you, parents may ask you to babysit their kids.

It’s not easy to be trustworthy, and it’s harder to maintain this status. You may appear trustworthy one day, but if you can’t keep your word the next day, following through on what you set out to do, you will lose your neighbors’ trust fast.  There’s no overestimating the ‘trust’ variable.

Finally, we should all strive to be:

8. Discreet

Being curious about your neighborhood and your surroundings is natural, and if you know what is going on, you can help your neighbors feel safer. 

But don’t be too curious. You will definitely cross a line if you try to know too much about your neighbor’s private affairs. Be discreet, and never divulge topics that need to stay private.

In other words, don’t gossip. 

If you choose to gossip, you may make some friends on your street who also enjoy gossiping, but you will also most certainly lose most people’s respect and trust.

Which Qualities are the Most Important?

It is hard to rank these qualities because, as we have said, each individual and neighborhood is unique. One quality may prove to be more critical in one neighborhood than another. 

That said, we do have some data on what qualities are considered the worst in a neighbor. According to an online survey conducted by Realtor.com — an authority on neighborhoods in general —  there are four traits none of us want in a neighbor, in order of importance.  None of us apparently relish neighbors who are:

  1. Disrespectful of property
  2. Loud
  3. Untrustworthy
  4. Nosy

Yes, for me, this does resonate.

The good thing is that individuals with these negative traits seem to be the exception rather than the rule. According to this same Realtor.com survey, three out of four respondents think they have good neighbors.  Those are pretty good stats, which means that most neighbors are actually good people.  Even the shy ones.

And good people, in the end, are what really make a great neighborhood.

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