It’s a classic commercial jingle … Like a good neighbor State Farm is there. I know, you sang that line when you read it, didn’t you? If a giant insurance company like State Farm knows the value of being a good neighbor then you should too!
In our last home Plaza Shamrock neighborhood, we lived next to a man that suffered from a mental illness. He was lucid and very aware, but we believe suffered from at least OCD. He would meticulously and endlessly do things in the yard or take trash out and go through each piece of paper over and over.
Despite his quirks, Joe was lovely and gracious and neighborly. My husband and I grew too really like Joe, and felt protective over him. We weren’t threatened at all by his behavior. In fact, we made sure to say hello or do simple neighborly things whenever we could. Joe started to trust us. We would talk about the weather over the fence and sometimes Joe would even laugh a little. He would make sure to watch over our property if we were gone. We bonded over being cat lovers and he loved our dog Blue. Blue always gave Joe a lick on the hand. When we sold our house next to Joe, I explained to the new owner about Joe. That he was a sweet kind person and to give him a chance. See, we didn’t have to be the same to be good neighbors to each other. Being a good neighbor requires some simple relationship building.
Here are a few qualities to help you be a good neighbor.
Good neighbors are friendly and approachable.
You don’t have to be best buddies but a smile and a wave go a long way. Being a good neighbor requires a little effort to actually build a relationship. Who doesn’t like a good meal you don’t have to cook after a stressful week with sick kids? A Woman’s Day and nextdoor.com survey found that 96.9 percent of people say that getting to know their neighbors gave them peace of mind.
Good neighbors help out in a pinch.
Now the key here is in a pinch. You don’t want to be bugging your neighbor for every little thing you need nor do you want them bugging you about something every day. That said, a good neighbor will willingly collect your mail when you are on vacation or return a package mistakenly delivered to their door or let you know who put in their dog fence knowing you want to put one in too!
Good neighbors don’t spy!
It’s one thing to be plugged into the community and aware of things that seem out of the ordinary. It’s another thing altogether to keep tabs on and talk trash about everyone in the neighborhood. You don’t want anyone doing it to you so don’t do it to anyone else or soon you’ll be the one everyone avoids at the next neighborhood get together. Oh, wait, you didn’t even know there was a get together? uh-huh, I think that says it all.
Good neighbors are clean.
That means they mow the lawn when the grass gets long. That means they keep their trash bins out of view. That means they don’t let clutter build up on the front porch. How your house looks affects theirs and vice versa. Consider the whole ‘do unto others’ rule and you’ll get along just fine.
Good neighbors are considerate.
See a single mom struggling to clear her driveway in the snow? Help her out. Does the family next door have kids? Don’t play your music loud late into the night? Before you go to the grocery store, see if your elderly neighbor needs anything. Don’t let your pets run the neighborhood or jump all over your neighbors. Being considerate and taking their side into account also helps reduce the tension in any disputes you may have with a neighbor.
The buyer of our house contacted me a few months after we closed to let us know Joe had passed away. I’m not sure why this neighborly relationship with Joe is so unforgettable for me. Nothing big happened. No huge acts on either side of the fence. I guess just a general acceptance and kindness that may have made a small difference for all of us.