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Six Habits of Good Next Door Neighbors

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor shares tips for smooth relationships with friends and encounters with strangers.

What happened to the friendly habits which used to be common among next door neighbors? Think about habits like sharing tomatoes from the backyard garden, borrowing the hammer and lending the wrenches so that no one person had to buy all the tools.

56% of participants in a 2013 survey agreed that they interact very little with their neighbors. 72% of them admitted that growing up, they knew their neighbors better than they do now.

Most still believe that interaction between neighbors creates a happier neighborhood; that it makes the community safer and stronger; that a strong and safe neighborhood facilitates good health and well-being. We can bring back that happy neighborhood, beginning with personal effort to become good next door neighbors.

Following are some proven habits which form the foundation for interaction between good neighbors living side by side. Eventually, the habits may spread to neighbors living on the same street, and to residents in the same subdivision.

I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?

— Mother Teresa

1. Communication

Is it possible to be at home, needing some immediate help which your cell phone friends are too far away to provide? Do you know your neighbor’s phone number? Communication between neighbors has its benefits.

Good neighbors communicate with each other on the front lawn, across the fence or during intentional visits to get acquainted. They know where the adults work and where the children go to school.

Knowing the residents of the house makes it easy to spot trespassers. The individual who lives alone may benefit from the neighbor’s awareness that his car is still in the garage on a workday when he should have left for work two hours earlier. Good neighbors give and request information, not to be nosy, but to be helpful.

Some Good and Bad Neighborly Habits

The lists are extracted from the 2013 State of the American Neighborhood Study, conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,021 participants, on behalf of Nextdoor- a social network for neighborhoods.

Good Neighborly HabitsBad Neighborly Habits

Friendliness

Excessive noise

Respect for personal space and boundaries

Disrespect for the neighbors’ personal space or boundaries

Proper maintenance of yard and property

Neglect of yard and property; no control of dogs

Willingness to help out neighbors in times of crisis and natural disasters

Driving too fast through the neighborhood

Good Fence, Good Neighbors.

Good Fence, Good Neighbors.

A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn't climb over it.

— Arthur Baer

2. Caution

It is necessary for good neighbors to be friendly but not to become bosom friends. Exchanging phone numbers is no authorization for daily conversations, emotional downloads or interrogations on social and political affiliations. What makes the association pleasant is the mutual observance of the imaginary No Trespassing sign on everyone’s privacy.

Respect for physical boundaries also contributes to the favorable atmosphere. Just because neighbors talk across the fence does not mean that they should walk through at will. If the reason for sneaking up on neighbors is to discover some clandestine activity, better judgment suggests contacting a private eye. Seriously!

Typical Profile of a Neighborly Person:

  • A parent
  • Married
  • Age 45 or older
  • A homeowner
  • A front porch owner
  • A dog owner
  • A regular neighborhood walker
  • a social media user at least once a day

- State of the American Neighborhood Report

Love your neighbor as yourself.

— The Bible

3. Civility

Good neighbors are gracious to each other. They greet each other cheerily, judging whether there is time for conversation about the weather, or just enough time to say “Have a nice day.” Compliments are in place; so are non-threatening inquiries about obvious issues like the job, the children, the vegetable garden, the health of the family in flu season.

The best rule of civility is to treat the other neighbor with the same love and admiration the giver will like to receive. Similarly, the children are taught to respect the people and the property next door, with the same good manners that they are required to show to their own parents. Children from two or three households can provide peer support against peer pressure from those who incite rudeness.

If everyone sweeps their own doorstep, their own neighbourhoods, the world will be a clean, pure and healthy place for life to prosper.

— Vishwas Chavan

4. Cleanliness

Good neighbors are first of all, good people. They mow their lawns, trim their hedges, keep thrash off the sidewalk, and freshen up their house paint as expressions of their cleanliness, decency and sense of beauty. They make their surroundings attractive for them.

Meanwhile, they gain admiration from the people next door who may or may not share their commitment to cleanliness; but eventually their habit rubs off on the onlookers who are influenced to do likewise. In the event that those next door are sluggish to pick up the habit, they can be encouraged in careful conversation.

They may be further encouraged by an offer of help. The clean neighbor tries to spread cleanliness as far as he or she could.

Neighbors Working

Neighbors Working

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

— The Bible

5. Credibility

Good neighborly acts come from a genuine heart. Helping the neighbor paint his fence, fell a tree or shovel the snow is not only because it improves conditions for the helper, but also because of an honest desire to help the neighbor be happy in his surroundings. Respect grows when people are genuinely interested in each other.

Neighbors who care are more likely to be honest about who they really are. They are open about what they expect from each other. They offer help and keep their word. Good neighbors can be relied on to watch out for each other. Fear and suspicion give way to trust and support.

Top Five Neighborly Disputes

  • noise (48% of all disputes)
  • pets and animals
  • children's behavior
  • property appearance
  • property boundaries

-FindLaw

By insisting too eagerly upon a small right, you may turn it into a wrong against yourself and also against your neighbor.

— Lawrence G. Lovasik

6. Compromise

People do not have to be perfect to qualify as good neighbors. There may be reason for dispute including any of the top five reasons reported by a FindLaw survey (see adjacent column). Consideration for the other person is usually a good motive for making adjustments. For example, the offender may prefer to have his dog roam the property but if it makes holes in the fence, a long leash may be an appropriate compromise.

In more serious misunderstandings like property boundaries, good neighbors can remain good neighbors after requesting legal documents from the homeowner’s association or a property lawyer. No one can blame an individual for insisting on his rights. Good neighbors show wisdom in compromising, accepting legal solutions and appreciating peace of mind.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 07, 2017:

Nithya, you have the right attitude. Perhaps when we insist on being the right neighbor, the other neighbors will catch up. We cannot let them dictate our behavior.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 07, 2017:

Peg, you're blessed with very thoughtful neighbors. Thank God for their reasonable concern. Thanks you for sharing.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on February 06, 2017:

A great hub about being good neighbors. Nowadays even if we want to say a friendly hello, people are not willing to acknowledge a greeting and act very cold and distant. This deters any further attempts to be friendly. But still, we try, hoping for the best.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 03, 2016:

Good neighbors "treat the other neighbor with the same love and admiration the giver will like to receive." What a true definition of the Golden Rule. We found a new world when we moved out to the country. People wave at one another from passing cars. They call if they see something suspicious going on.

I'm ever grateful for the neighbors who alerted me to potential danger when my Mom lived out here on her own. More than once I got a call from them telling me there was a strange car in her driveway. They know the right amount of interest to show without prying or getting overly friendly. I love my neighbors. Well, except for the one with the loud bass that rattles the windows. LOL

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 16, 2016:

I'm sure that my loveliness is boosted in association with lovely people like you. I mean that.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 16, 2016:

You're such a lovely person, Dora - thank you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 16, 2016:

Ann, life happens and we all get our share. Take your time and know that your visit is appreciated early or late. Stay blessed!

Ann Carr from SW England on October 16, 2016:

Thanks, Dora! Sorry I've not visited you much recently but I will catch up slowly.

Ann

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 16, 2016:

Ann, these reports of good neighbors really restore my faith in the possibility of good neighborhoods. Thank you so much for sharing. Best to you and family moving into your new house, and hoping for good neighbors there too.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 16, 2016:

Super quotes, Dora! We're lucky here as we live in a court so we can all see each other's houses. Most of us speak almost every day and we help each other out quite often, are invited to each other's houses and there's many a knock on the door to ask my partner if he has a certain item of diy (he's known for his building, mechanics, Mr fixit ability) in stock (i.e. the garage)!

I'm still catching up at weekends as the week is still taken up with renovating our new house - we'll be moving there as soon as we can but in the meantime we're finding our neighbours are becoming friends too which is lovely.

Ann

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 16, 2016:

Shauna, you have the favor of God in your neighborhood. Stay blessed!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 14, 2016:

Dora, I'm fortunate to have great neighbors. We mow each others lawns, help with project, share food, party together but also don't smother each other.

One of my neighbors even taught my son how to ride a bike and tie his shoes when he was little. She considers him the son she never had. I've seen another neighbor's kids grow up from diapers to adults. It's really cool living in a neighborhood with such camaraderie.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 10, 2016:

Glenis, that must be so cheery (at least on one side) to enjoy such mutual respect and sharing. I am encouraged. Thanks for mentioning the old folks who live alone; they especially can benefit from good neighbors. Thank you for sharing.

Glenis Rix on October 10, 2016:

We all need to be reminded about this occasionally MsDora. It's so easy to become wrapped up in our own lives that we forget that some people may need a smile and a helping hand now and then. Old people living alone can be particularly lonely and isolated.

I'm blessed with some good neighbours on one side of my property, and do indeed share my excess garden produce with them. We chat over the fence and very occasionally share a cup of coffee.But we respect each others privacy. I know that they would help me out in an emergency and I would do the same for them. They even attended my father's funeral - though they didn't know him very well.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2016:

RTalloni, thanks for your encouragement. Needed these reminders myself. Being and having good neighbors is still a work in progress for me.

RTalloni on October 07, 2016:

Such good reminders here! Thanks for highlighting these neighborly concepts in a neat format.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2016:

Word, happy to receive your feedback. Great that your neighbors are as helpful as they are. Yes, I try to be a good neighbor, as I'm sure you do. May God bless us all!

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on October 07, 2016:

Another good and thoughtful article. In a sense, neighbors are not like they used to be but at least most speak to each other in my hood. I think we help out each other out when necessary. It is hard not to be a good neighbor. Thank God for good neighbors that try their best to be their best. I'm sure you are one of the best neighbors around. Be blessed Dora...

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2016:

Good to hear from you, Blossom. Seems like the ground is already set for you and your neighbors to enjoy your relationship.

Thanks for sharing.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on October 06, 2016:

What a great hub! It's so well written and researched - and a great reminder to be a good neighbour. The key for my car boot is with my door key and if my car is parked outside in the street, I only need to touch the car remote, even from inside the house, and the boot flies up. Although I, like many others, do not talk much to my neighbours across the road as they both go to work and are very busy,but if they see my boot open they will let me know! Your hub is a great reminder that I should try and be a better neighbour for them, too.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 04, 2016:

Denise, I am impressed by your attitude--willing to try. Thanks for such a positive feedback.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on October 04, 2016:

This is a great evaluation tool for us to check and see where we are at with our neighbors. As I stop and think, several of my neighbors have changed in the past few years, and I haven't had an opportunity to get to know them. Perhaps now is the time!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 04, 2016:

Thanks, Alicia. They say that eventually good or bad neighbors affect our well-being. Let's try for good neighbors.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 04, 2016:

Bill, that's just what I was thinking. We can do better, beginning with us.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 03, 2016:

This is an excellent article, MsDora. Your description of a good neighbor makes a lot of sense and is important as well.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on October 03, 2016:

You kind of make us think - what happened to neighborhoods? Things are so different now. Oh, and I really liked your Arthur Baer quote. Thanks for another timely hub, Dora

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Janice, happy to meet you. I appreciate your kind feedback.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Mary, both you and your mother are blessed to have experienced good neighbors; I could tell that your neighbors were also blessed to have you. Really encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

Janice Miller from Middletown Ct on October 03, 2016:

I commend you on your idea of a good neighbor, if we could only get them all to comply with these ideas......

Mary Wickison from Brazil on October 03, 2016:

I feel so lucky to have moved into a community with wonderful neighbors here in Brazil. They have been so helpful in so many ways helping us to adjust. Whether it is knowledge about local flora and fauna, or where to buy something, they come to help us.

We swap fruits & they come over to fish and have a chat.

I know where my mother lived, she too had fantastic neighbors who checked on her. She lived in her home for 40 years and she was still the 'new kid on the block' as 3 of her closest neighbors had lived there longer.

This hub is an ideal reminder that to change something needn't be expensive, sometimes it just starts with a smile and a wave.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Kyriaki, I'm so encouraged by your commendation, and share your hope for that kind of response from readers. Thank you for such a positive feedback.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Bill, I could have guessed that you and Bev are really good neighbors. That other neighbor may be in the dark about how good it is to practice these habits. Keep smiling at him/her.

Kyriaki Chatzi on October 03, 2016:

No matter the words I choose, they are still not enough to describe just how well-written, accurate and humane this article is.

Hopefully, articles like this may people more susceptible to becoming good neighbors themselves.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 03, 2016:

Bev and I would pass that test with flying colors. I'm not so sure about our next door neighbor on the right of us. LOL Well, we can always hope for a change, right? :)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Mts, I love your conclusion, and I totally agree. Thanks for your feedback.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Jodah, it's great that you even have the phone numbers. Thanks for your affirmation: "There is nothing better than having a good neighbor."

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Eric, I think I knew that. I really wanted you to state for the record that I am your friend. I guess I referred to your momma because you did. (smile)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Kiddie, if you can still lend and borrow in your neighborhood, you've got a great thing going, thank God. Thanks for sharing,

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 03, 2016:

Whonu, happy for you that you are blessed with good neighbors! Thanks for sharing.

mts1098 on October 03, 2016:

MsDora - I hope all is well. It certainly can be difficult trying to adhere to courtesy for each neighbor especially when it comes to the noise for lawn maint. Overall people seem to be respectful of early morning or late evening yard work but at the end of the day - we are all trying to get to the same place...cheers

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 03, 2016:

Love this article, MsDora. There is nothing better than having a good neighbor. It actually adds value to your property and makes life much more pleasant. You make some great points. We live on 40 acres, but our closest neighbors are nice people and we help each other out at different times..have each other's phone number etc.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 02, 2016:

She in her passing does know. Thank you.

Nicole K on October 02, 2016:

Thanks for this insightful hub. It is unfortunate that most neighbors aren't as friendly or helpful as they used to be. My husband and I are so grateful to have wonderful neighbors who we can count on. We've had neighborhood BBQ's in the past and we are always friendly to each other. If one of us needs something and can't get to the store, we know we can always ask to borrow it from a neighbor and they will try their best to help. Having great neighbors is truly a blessing from God!

whonunuwho from United States on October 02, 2016:

My neighbors are Asian, Hispanic, Native American , Black and White. We go to great lengths in our neighborhood in helping each one out ands have had a wonderful relationship here for almost ten years. Thank you for your nice message my friend. whonu

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 02, 2016:

Eric, thanks for the smiles and the bonus comment. I like "not our neighbors business but their hearts." Let your momma know that I am your friend.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 02, 2016:

I needed this like so many newborns need a spank to start breathing. We need to spread the love and the best place to start is not our neighbors business but their hearts. I can do better and by golly jingles I will. Missy Dora you light a spark. A spark of good. My momma would want you as my friend.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 02, 2016:

Faith, sorry you had to move, but glad that you are among better neighbors. It's horrible to be the reason for a neighbor having to relocate. Glad that you have some peace now.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 02, 2016:

Lori, I'm so sorry that you are having such a negative situation with your one neighbor. Hopefully, your being a good neighbor would help the situation from becoming any worse. I guess that you are praying for something to change. Keep at it!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 02, 2016:

Flourish, I like how your being a good neighbor to the Iranian has caused others to be a god neighbor to him. Thanks for sharing. Your story shows just how well it can work.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 02, 2016:

Good neighbors certainly add peace to every day living. We bad to move from our home in the city over eight years ago because our neighbors children, who were teenagers at the time, became out of control and bringing hoodlum friends into the neighborhood disturbing the peace. A couple of times there were shots fired! I knew then it was time to go. It was sad because my children grew up there. The children next door respected me because I was kInc to them. Since moving to a small town, it has been so lovely and peaceful. We wave and speak to our neighbors.

Good hub in keeping the peace and loving one's neighbor.

Blessings

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on October 02, 2016:

You always write on nteresting subjects. I feel very unsafe in my neighborhood. Very. One family has the cops there all the time. To. The other side I have a neighbor who is friends with the others. She has been very kind, but she's growing a forest of pot and has 9000 yippee dogs. She is considerate with keeping them outdoors for small periods of time, but they startle me when I'm deep into something. She has no filters though when it comes to language and vulgar comments. She recently disclosed to me that she was checking out the inside of my shed while out of town.

The information here is greatl. Nice work.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 02, 2016:

We have a next door neighbor who is a nice guy, originally from Iran. During 9/11 and the years that followed people were reluctant to return his waves and attempts at conversations except for my husband and I. When he had a tree fall on his fence in bad weather my husband recruited a couple of others to help chainsaw it up because the guy has a bad back. Eventually people relaxed their attitudes a bit. He puts up with our 6 cats (and any others who want to eat at our house and in exchange my husband mows the fellow's yard when he has surgery, looks after his house when he goes out of town, that sort of thing. I like all the suggestions you provide here. People have become so transient and don't know their neighbors anymore.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 02, 2016:

Jackie, the situation is not always ideal, but you seem to be managing pretty well with the one you have. Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 02, 2016:

Manitata, happy for you that you have at least one good one. The other one may come around. I appreciate your kind comment.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on October 02, 2016:

Neighbors really are not like they were when I grew up but I guess mine will do. Only one I have to not be overly friendly with or I have her child being a pest who really is too old for that and messing with my animals and things that I just do not like but the couple of others we are friendly and will offer a hand when need be but we are not buddies. It suites me especially since the other two are single men and I am not sure my husband would like me being any friendlier! lol

I do wish I had neighbors like in my childhood ones but many of those had kids I played with too!

Great fun and interesting article as always!

manatita44 from london on October 02, 2016:

A beautifully written and 'spot on' kind of Hub, filled with great and noble ideas. We are all one, really, and inter-connectedness can be awesome if done in the right Spirit. Alas! in my case I do very well with the neighbour on the right and I just don't know with the one on the left. Unpredictable!

A very well-written article and your points are noteworthy and educational. An excellent and loving piece. Have a great Sunday, Dee.