Even in the best of circumstances, moving to a new home can be a challenging and intimidating experience for anyone. Finding community in your new neighborhood can go a long way toward helping you create a sense of belonging in your new home.
The key to finding and becoming a part of the community is to be a good neighbor. However, being a good neighbor requires knowing certain standard rules of etiquette. While these rules are often untaught and unspoken, the effects of violating them are near-universal.
Generally, there are certain things you should and should not ask your neighbors, both in terms of conversation topics and tasks with which you need aid. Whatever relationships you form with your neighbors, make sure they remain equal. Do not always ask a neighbor for help without being willing to offer your help in kind when asked for it.
Likewise, do not let yourself be taken advantage of by someone who only takes favors but never gives them. If, at any point in your relationship, you find you have overstepped your bounds and offended a neighbor, the best thing to do is apologize as soon as possible. Whatever happens afterward, at least you know you gave it your best.
Questions to Ask Neighbors
Building a good rapport with your neighbors requires getting to know a little about them. Moreover, showing interest in who your neighbors are and what they care about makes them feel good about you. When getting to know your new neighbors after moving into a new neighborhood, some of the best and easiest questions to start with include the following:
- What is there to do around here?
- Where are the best spots to eat, have fun and relax?
- What are the most convenient local parks, shopping centers, movie theaters, bars and other hot night spots?
- Are there any things out of the ordinary that are frowned upon in this neighborhood, or quirks to know about the area?
Related Article: How to Reach Out to New Neighbors
In addition to the questions above, you should also ask your neighbors some general “getting to know you” questions, such as where a person grew up, what he or she does for work and what he or she likes to do in his or her spare time. Offer your new neighbors your phone number in case they need anything or have an emergency.
Things to Do With and For Your Neighbor
If you need someone to look out for delivery while you are not home, it is perfectly fine to ask your neighbor to keep an eye out for you and collect your parcel. Just be prepared return the favor at some point.
Moreover, if you have something heavy you need help lifting into or out of your car and you know your neighbor is strong enough to handle the job, it is fine to ask for assistance. Other favors okay to ask of your neighbors and for your neighbors to ask of you include:
- Collecting your mail while you are on vacation.
- Taking care of your outdoor garden while you are traveling.
- Calling the police, fire department or ambulance if you need emergency assistance and are unable.
- Alerting you to any strange visitors they notice when you are not at home.
- Lending you basic household tools or kitchen ingredients.
When hosting a social celebration, deciding whether to invite your neighbor can be a tricky matter. You have to consider the type of event and who is going to attend. If it is a family gathering, a neighbor may feel out of place. If it is a young person’s gathering, older neighbors may feel out of place.
Whether you invite your neighbor to your event or not, if there is going to be a lot of noise, especially after dark, or a lot of people parking up and down the street, it is respectful to at least inform your neighbors of the event and invite them to contact you if it gets too boisterous or they have some other issue.
Things to Avoid With Your Neighbor
There are certain favors you should not ask of your neighbors and certain topics of conversation to avoid broaching with them. To keep interactions with your neighbors pleasant and peaceful, avoid bringing up topics like the following in your conversations:
- Prior marriages and relationships.
As for favors to avoid, you should never ask to borrow money from your neighbor. There are many reasons why you do not want to borrow money from a neighbor, even if you successfully repay it. The transaction sets up a feeling and concern in your neighbor that you are unable to make your ends meet without help from others.
Your neighbor may well start to shield him or herself from you to avoid similar awkward encounters in the future. Similarly, avoid borrowing expensive belongings like tools or vehicles. If you break or lose the item, even if you repair or replace it, you could still lose some measure of trust in your neighbor’s eyes.
Additionally, it is also wise to avoid becoming an emotional burden on your neighbors. Take care not to leave the impression that you are always lurking and waiting for another conversation or invitation. When you visit with your neighbors, be conscious of not overstaying your welcome. When it comes to maintaining good relationships with your neighbors, it is a long-term effort. In other words, many shorter visits likely do your relationship better than fewer longer ones.
When you invite your neighbors over to your home, let them stay as long as they want, within reason. Ways to spend more time with your neighbors without worrying about being an imposition on them are hosting and participating in neighborhood-wide and community events, like group yard sales, block parties and Halloween trick or treating.
Above all, avoid asking your neighbor to do anything you are perfectly capable of doing for yourself. Your neighbor is not a personal assistant there to make your life easier. If you want your leaves raked, make time to rake your leaves yourself or pay someone to do it for you. Leave your neighbor out of it altogether.
Related Article: 10 Tips for Making Friends After Moving to a New Area