Eight Tips for Being a Good Neighbor

You've bought a house and you can't wait to move in. It's a perfect space for you and your family, and you're looking forward to beginning this new stage of your life. Well, there's one aspect of that new house and that new stage that you should consider—your neighbors. Here are eight ways to promote good neighborly relations:

1. Break the Ice Early. Look for an opportunity to introduce yourself soon after you move in, before anything happens that sets a negative tone. Shake hands over the fence or stroll over to chat if you see someone working in their yard. Tell them a little bit about yourself and your family and ask for friendly tips on the neighborhood.

2. Keep Garbage under Control. Make sure that your garbage is properly disposed of in secure cans in a tidy area beside your house prior to collection day. Then, when collection day arrives, put out your garbage for pickup in an orderly way and in a timely manner (not too early).

3. Maintain Your Yard. Whether it's covered by green grass or something more creative (like a garden or an arrangement of stones), ensure that your yard is well maintained and aesthetically pleasing. You should also prune any vegetation that crosses the property line. Tree branches and shrubs should not spill over into your neighbor's yard. Remember, your front yard is your calling card. More importantly, two or three poorly maintained front yards may affect property values in the neighborhood.

4. Give Advance Warning of Noisy Events. If you are planning a party, a renovation to the exterior of your house, or any other noisy or disruptive activity, give your neighbors a heads up. Let them know what's happening and when, and tell them to contact you if they are unduly inconvenienced by the activity.

5. Park with Care. Be sure not to block your neighbor's driveway or park too close to the property line. If you are having a gathering at your house and your guests' cars will be filling most of the available spots along the street, let your neighbors know so they can plan accordingly.

6. Monitor Your Pet(s). If your dog is difficult to control, keep it on a leash at all times, especially when walking the animal past your neighbors' lawns. Make sure to clean up after your pet. And listen for obnoxious yelps—don't leave a dog barking in your backyard for hours.

7. Maintain Quiet Near Shared Walls. If you live in a town house, or any other dwelling that shares a wall with another home, think about the sounds that may be transmitted through the wall, including the bass of a stereo and the vibrations of an appliance.

8. Monitor Suspicious Activity. Whether or not you are part of an organized network (such as neighborhood watch), be alert to the possibility of illegal activity in the neighborhood. If you see something suspicious, notify your neighbor(s) and the police immediately.