When you think about the places you have lived, what do you remember the most? That really cool restaurant nearby? Your favorite store around the corner? Ask many people what they most remember about a previous home and they’re likely to say, “The people I knew and the relationships I had with my neighbors.”
If this is the case for you, you’ve already experienced some of the benefits of being part of a neighborhood. Having someone in the area you can trust with an extra key in case you lock yourself out or who can pick up your papers and mail while you are on vacation offers more than just convenience – it’s good for your health.
A Matter of Trust
Over the years, studies have found a correlation between trust and health. People who trust their neighbors are less stressed and report feeling better. Among older respondents in one of the studies, people with strong interpersonal contact appeared to live longer.
While it may be a stretch to say having good neighbors saves lives, a neighborhood that fosters familiarity becomes a place where people look out for one another, their kids, property, and public safety. However, to have good neighbors, it helps to be a good neighbor.
5 Traits of a Good Neighbor
- Responsible pet ownership. Good neighbors take measures to ensure that their pets stay on their property and clean up after them when on walks. Additionally, in the case of dogs, they try to bring barking episodes to a quick end.
- Mindful parking etiquette. In busy areas, it is easy to unwittingly block driveways or park in reserved spots. Being aware helps, as does making sure visitors know where they should park when visiting.
- Forthright with potential surprises. From providing a head’s up when entertaining to giving advance notice when having work done on a home that might impact others, it helps to warn neighbors of the potential for temporary inconvenience.
- Reliable sources of news and information. There may be a need for improved awareness or for sharing news of the neighborhood. Staying connected and being involved helps.
- Selective about houseguests. As person-to-person rentals of rooms and entire homes have become more prevalent, it helps to be considerate of your neighbors when participating in these programs. Let them know if you have tenants booked and make sure to give detailed instructions to tenants about parking and noise rules, etc.
Choosing a Home While Choosing a Community
Whether you buy a home in the suburbs or a condo in an urban area, you have an opportunity to belong to a community of people who share your interest in keeping the neighborhood attractive to future homebuyers.
Meeting neighbors and bringing people together often starts with a wave and a smile. Some areas have annual block parties. Others set up lending “libraries” for tools. Some even offer online communities using Facebook, or other social apps, to share information. Many individuals have added outdoor areas to the fronts of their homes to increase interaction with their neighbors. It doesn’t take much to reap the benefits of being part of a community, just a willingness to belong.