Do You Know These Unspoken Neighborhood Etiquette Rules?

When it comes to being a good neighbor, not everyone is on the same page. That’s why it’s important to be open to suggestions from the ones you live in close proximity to. To avoid confrontation, it’s wise to be mindful of your own role in the neighborhood. Certain rules may seem like common sense, like not being loud in the middle of the night, but other rules are newer, like sending a text before you show up at their door. Here’s a checklist to help ensure you’re the neighbor people want to live around.

Introduce Yourself As Soon As Possible

Women gather on front porch steps to admire a baby
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Particularly for introverts, the idea of introducing yourself to a complete stranger may seem intimidating. But when it comes to the people you’re living near, it’s best to break the ice sooner than later.

Saying hello to the neighbors gives you the opportunity to exchange phone numbers, which will come in handy during emergencies. It also makes you seem approachable from the start, setting a precedent for open communication. It’s important that you feel you can be honest with your neighbors and vise versa so that small things don’t bubble up into huge fueds.

Text Before Knocking

A woman texts while crossing the street
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

In this day and age, an unexpected knock on the door can make many people uneasy. Obviously, most people don’t have the number of everyone in their neighborhood. However, once you meet them it may be a good idea to exchange phone numbers.

This way, when you need to borrow a cup of sugar or you got the wrong package, you can save yourself the walk and send a text to see if the neighbor is even around. it’s seen as a common courtesy.

Give A Heads Up About Construction

A home under construction is photographed from the backyard
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

If you’re going to have work done on your home, you should let your neighbors know before it happens. The most obvious reason is noise. Particularly for those who work from home, a heads up will allow them to plan accordingly.

The other reason is the proximity to their home. Neighbors may have to sacrifice street parking for large construction vehicles. Especially in apartment living, they may need to squeeze by construction workers and their supplies on their way in the door.

Let Your Neighbors Know If You’re Getting A Loud Pet

A dog barks in a field
Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images
Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images

Everyone loves puppies, right? Wrong. Your neighbors will be the ones to suffer more than anyone because they hear all of the loud noises and don’t reap any of the snuggle benefits. Dogs aren’t the only animal to warn your neighbors about.

When getting any new pet, it’s important to give a heads up to those who may be somewhat affected. A snake getting out of the cage, an unexpected outdoor cat, a shrieking bird, all can take a neighbor by surprise and may not end well for your pet.

Close Your Windows If Your Up Past 10

A little girl observes something stuck to the glass of a window
Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Most noise ordinances require neighbors to quiet down at 10 p.m. This is a pretty generous time considering some neighbors will have small children. However, this doesn’t just mean shut down the party.

You might be having a night in and not realize that your movie is blasting and your windows are open. Especially if you have guests over, or are just a loud talker in general, be sure that your windows are shut if you aren’t going to bed right away.

Warn Your Neighbors If You’re Going To Throw A Party

A crowd of dancing people in a dark room
Estrop/Getty Images
Estrop/Getty Images

Try to give your neighbors the same notice about your party that you give to the guests on your list. This way, you can negotiate with them about noise and times ahead of time. It also gives them the option to make arrangements so that they don’t experience noise or parking issues.

While you’re speaking with them, you may want to invite them to join. If they seem like they’d enjoy it or if the event is casual enough, it’s a nice gesture to extend them an invitation and may soften them up a bit.

Don’t Vacuum Late At Night

A woman vaccums hardwood floors
NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images
NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images

This is another one of those less obvious rules. Some people experience a cleaning kick late at night. Once you get started, it can be difficult to stop. You can still mop and sweep. Just be sure you leave the vacuuming for tomorrow.

No matter how much you try to convince yourself that vacuums aren’t that loud, they still reverberate into your neighbors’ homes. Especially if you live in an apartment and definitely if someone lives under you, don’t even think about touching that thing after dinnertime.

Be Considerate Of Their Schedules

A man and woman converse while walking their dogs
Ricardo Ceppi/ Getty Images
Ricardo Ceppi/ Getty Images

It’s a good idea to say hello to passing neighbors, but if a conversation emerges, be careful about how long you keep them. Acknowledging their presence with a smile is enough, but sometimes there is a favor or a story you might want to bring up.

If you do have something to say, especially if they’re getting ready to go somewhere, just ask if they have the time to talk for a few minutes. Don’t be offended if they don’t have the time, just offer to send them a text about it later.

Don’t Repeat Things You Overhear

A woman whispers to another woman who wears an intrigued expression on her face
Debrocke/ClassicStock/Getty Images
Debrocke/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Particularly for neighbors who live in close proximity to one another, it’s likely that you’ll overhear something personal at some point. Avoid the temptation to eavesdrop in on them. Instead, put in headphones, go for a walk, or make a call.

Assuming that nothing dier is going on, the less you hear the better. This will help limit the amount of gossip you feel inclined to share with others. Being the neighborhood gossip is not something you want to have a reputation for, especially when you inevitably go through something.

Offer To Help A Neighbor In Need

A man assists a woman while she's stuck in her car in a snowstorm
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

If your neighbor needs help, it’s a kind gesture to at least offer your assistance. If you’re on the way to work and can afford to give your boss a heads-up about being late so your neighbor doesn’t have to wait for AAA to jump their car, do it.

Small acts of kindness not only make you feel good about yourself, but they also create a bonding experience. You’ll feel better about where you live by establishing a caring environment, and your neighbor will, too.

Don’t Take Advantage Of Their Expertise

A man looks under the hood of a car
Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star via Getty Images

While it’s all fine and dandy to help neighbors and have them help you, it’s also important not to be a burden on one another. For example, if you have a neighbor who is a doctor and something happens that requires immediate attention, of course, they should be your go-to.

But if your car is due for an oil change, don’t go bugging the mechanic next door. It isn’t proper to ask for free work from someone just because they live next to you and have expertise.

Wait Until 10 AM To Mow The Lawn

A woman mows her lawn
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Especially on weekends and especially during hot months (when people sometimes sleep with the windows open), don’t mow the lawn at the break of dawn. Waiting until 10 a.m. is ideal since it’s generally noisier outside by that time anyways.

Plus, if you find it hard to get around to mowing the lawn at a good time, you can always hire a kid in the neighborhood to do it. They’ll probably work for a low fee and your neighbors will appreciate helping them instill a work ethic in their teen.

Aim To Hammer Into The Wall Midday

A woman hammers a nail into the wall
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

While most noises are a nuisance past 10 p.m., hammering is in its own category. Like most loud construction, hammering should not be done too long after business hours. After 8 p.m. refrain from hanging up that new wall art.

Most noises, like chatter or vacuuming, are dull. Hammering is a sharp, unexpected pinging noise that can startle someone unwinding from the day. It’s best to try to hammer nails in as close to the middle of the day as possible when most people are up and about.

Avoid Calling The Cops

An officer struts down a neighborhood street
Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images
Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

When emotions are high, it can be hard to distinguish between an emergency and a nuisance. If no one is in danger whatsoever, it’s worth going over to your neighbors directly to politely make a request.

Going straight to the police about noise or other harmless issues before you tell the neighbor is sure to rub them the wrong way. As uncomfortable as it may be, they’d much rather hear it from you than from the authorities.

Don’t Leave Toys Out

A scooter is left out on a sidewalk
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Sometimes families can forget about all of the toys in the front yard. But try to remember that not all of your neighbors are used to seeing toys strewn across the floor. Not only is it aesthetically unpleasing, but it can also be a tripping hazard.

Especially with larger items like bikes and scooters, be sure that your kids don’t leave them sitting on the sidewalk or in other people’s driveways. At the end of the day, bring everything back inside. It teaches kids about staying organized and respecting shared spaces.

Never Scold Their Kids

A mother wags her fingers at her son, whose head hangs down
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Apart from saying hello, there isn’t much need to confer with the neighborhood kids. If you’re friendly with the parents, you might have a bit of small talk with the kids, but the conversation shouldn’t go negative.

Kids don’t have the same social skills as adults, and parents are very protective of them for that reason. A sure way to get on a neighbor’s nasty side is to scold their kids, even if you’re entirely justified. It’s best to go directly to the parents and let them handle their kids.

Obey Pet Rules

Neighbors admire a black, leashed dog
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Before approaching their dog, it’s always polite to ask the owner if it’s okay to pet it. Some animals are still being trained or are aggressive, and the last thing a neighbor wants is to have to compensate for something they could have controlled.

At the same time, you shouldn’t discriminate against neighbors and their pets just because you aren’t an animal person. Transversely, if you are an animal person and decide to get a pet, don’t assume your pet is above the law. Follow the proper precautions to keep everyone safe.

Be Conscientious About What You Borrow

A man and toddler boy look into a tool set
JOKER/Ralf Gerard/ullstein bild via Getty Images
JOKER/Ralf Gerard/ullstein bild via Getty Images

If a neighbor is kind enough to let you borrow something, be sure that you return it in its original condition without anything missing. If something does go missing or breaks, replace it.

When it comes to food, don’t make your neighbor a replacement for the store. If you need more than a couple of minimal items, like an egg and a teaspoon of baking soda, then just go to the store. If the total of what you borrowed is more than a couple of dollars, offer to pay for it.

Send Thank Yous

A thank you card is left on a doorstep
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Neighbors can be a huge help, especially when it comes to things going wrong at home. If they let you do laundry at their place for a week while your washer and dryer was repaired, brought you dinner when your kitchen was remodeled, or sent flowers when your dog died, acknowledge those kind acts.

Thank you cards and gift cards are a way to recognize their efforts. An alternative that’s equally thoughtful is to send over whatever you have a surplus of. Vegetables and flowers from your garden or baked goods reciprocate the kindness.

Consider Your Curb Appeal

A hot pink house with emogis painted on
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The homeowner’s association generally limits the amount of creative control you have as it is. However, that power varies greatly from place to place. Just look at this crazy house someone painted.

Exterior design choices aside, it is important to be mindful of any shrubbery or other items that may be impeding on your next-door neighbor’s space. If you are the neighbor who has an issue with some else’s property, bring it up politely, rather than handing them over a to-do list.