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Neighborly Manners

suburban family home at sunset with a divided sky framing the house with light

Neighbors can be the people in your apartment building, condo complex, townhouse, or duplex. They could be someone who lives on your block, in your neighborhood, or a few miles away. However you define neighbor, these neighborly manners can help you establish and maintain good relationships with your neighbors, whether you become friends or keep a polite distance.

General Neighborly Manners

  • Greet neighbors whenever you see them. A smile, a wave, and a pleasant "hello" are probably the easiest ways to acknowledge your neighbors. Think of these greetings as a great foundational block for good neighbor relationships.
  • Have an occasional chat. There's a lot you can learn through casual chit-chat. Whether it's over the fence or while out on a walk, be aware of how long your conversation has gone on and look for clues that your neighbor needs to get back to their day. (Are they asking you questions or sharing stories or perspectives? If not, it's a good sign they aren't trying to extend the conversation.) If you don't see signs, keep enjoying the conversation!
  • Call or text ahead before visiting. Call or text before heading over and ask if it's convenient for you to stop by; not all neighbors happily pop in and out of each other's homes without warning. If you're open to a particular neighbor popping by whenever, by all means, invite them to do so. If you've received such an invitation, it's okay to pop by but be prepared for your neighbor to say they are busy and can't entertain a visit. 
  • Limit visits to a reasonable amount of time. For a drop-by visit, be attuned to what your neighbors are doing, and leave at the first hint that they're ready for the visit to end.
  • Be considerate with chores and activities. We are all entitled to do our chores and tend to our homes, yards, patios, and balconies. But some chores and activities are noisy or will impact others. It's best to be observant of when our activities might intrude on others' enjoyment of their time at home. As best you can, communicate with your neighbors around loud chores, activities, and events so that, at the very least, you are both aware.
  • Don't take advantage of a neighbor's expertise or talent. Living on the same street as a doctor, lawyer, mechanic, handyman, or anyone with special skills doesn't entitle neighbors to ask for free consultations or services.
  • Say thanks for any favors. Always say "Thank you" and be willing to return a favor.
  • Be respectful of privacy. It can take some effort not to eavesdrop when living in close quarters.  Never repeat what you accidentally overhear. Once you realize it's personal, try to find a way to distract yourself or remove yourself from earshot. 
  • Be respectful of property. Always ask for permission before entering anyone's property.

Tips for Apartment and Condominium Dwellers

While you each have your own private space, you share walls, ceilings, and common areas as well. Keep the following in mind:

  • Common areas: Help take responsibility for keeping common areas neat and litter-free and report any damage to maintenance.
  • Trash disposal: Use designated containers for trash and recycling. If the bin is overflowing, leave your trash bagged neatly and immediately report the problem to maintenance.
  • Noise: Apartment and condo dwellers accept a certain amount of noise as a fact of life. Establish quiet times in the morning an evenings. It's easier to come to an agreement ahead of time than be the subject of someone's complaint.

Tips for Homeowners

As a good neighbor, it's important to keep your property looking neat, and to follow any local ordinances regarding lawn care, trash disposal, parking, and yard sales.

  • Neat exterior: Standards and tastes in property care vary person to person, but so long as neighbors maintain their property, there's no need to criticize their fondness for garden gnomes.
  • Trash: Bag garbage and stash it in tightly lidded containers and secure recycling so it doesn't scatter in the wind.
  • Lighting: When you install outdoor lighting, including holiday lights, make sure to consider your neighbor's point of view.
  • Power tool noise: Limit the use of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, power tools, and the like to reasonable times or when permitted by town ordinances.
  • Fall leaves: Falling leaves respect no property lines, and the ones that fall in your yard, even from a neighbor's tree, are all yours.

Children at Play

It's up to parents to keep a watchful eye: Youngsters can easily forget their manners and the rules of safety when they're curious or caught up in play.

  • Teach children where they can and can't go.
  • Be aware of noise.
  • Teach them to ask a parent for help if a ball goes into a neighbor's yard.


As the owner, you are required to keep your dog under control at all times, and you are liable for any damage to person or property. Obey town or city leash laws, and watch out at home for:

  • Incessant barking.
  • Going AWOL.
  • Aggressive behavior towards passerby.