The first house I ever bought was in a brand new development. Eager to meet the neighbors and fantasizing about borrowing a cup of sugar, I was shocked to learn that their main priority was to figure out what kind of fence we all wanted. Fences? What about the cup of sugar?
Well, I was young, naive, and perhaps idealistic. I now have a great deal of appreciation for fences. In fact, the higher the wall, the better.
Fences make good boundaries, that’s for sure. So do conversations about boundaries. When my current next door neighbors moved in, we became instant friends. In spite of that connection (or maybe because of it), we established the “call first” rule. It’s worked well for more than a dozen years.
At the beginning of my mediation career, I volunteered to mediate community conflicts, most of which were of the neighbor-to-neighbor variety. It surprised me that people in Las Vegas didn’t know their neighbors. Is it because people work all kinds of shifts? Or because our houses are mainly oriented towards the (fenced-in) back yards? In any event, most of those conflicts had to do with barking dogs, and 100% of the issues were resolved by the simple exchange of phone numbers.
Yet sometimes neighbors are the opposite of strangers. Sometimes they are nosy, gossipy, and overstay their welcome. Then what?
Those of us who are old enough to remember the t.v. show “Bewitched,” will recall Gladys Kravitz as the nosy neighbor. While not too many of us are able to utilize witchcraft to control our own Gladys Kravitzes, there are other ways to deal with nosy neighbors. My first suggestion is to actually talk to them. Get to know them. It’s possible that they have some underlying issues that could be driving their nosiness. And you can casually mention your obsession with privacy. Maybe they’ll get the hint.
On the other hand, sometimes the last thing in the world you want to do is extend the hand of friendship to a neighbor. If you suspect something going on that’s not entirely Kosher, before going to any extremes that might create a permanent rift, I’d suggest you first check the local laws and restrictions in your community. In Las Vegas, most of our neighborhoods are governed by CC&Rs (covenants, codes, and restrictions) which control a wide range of things including noise, conducting business, parking, etc. For the annoying neighbor who’s running a midnight auto repair shop in his garage, this might mean a hefty fine or worse, if it’s brought to the attention of the proper authorities.
We’re all entitled to the quiet enjoyment of our homes. (For me, the emphasis is on “quiet.”) I’ve been lucky. My neighbors, at least the ones I’ve known, have all added to the quality of my life. That’s not always the case.
Please comment and share a neighbor experience you’ve had, whether happy or miserable. You’ll be helping my research for a future project, and that would be quite neighborly of you!
In the house I shared with my late husband, I wasn’t friends with any of my neighbors. They took issue when I re-plastered my pool, or my dogs barked. They also left me nasty, threatening notes. I was glad to move from there. My new neighbors are all very nice and really welcoming.
Great post, Nancy. As you know, I cannot stand it when a neighbor consistently drops by without an invitation to do so, and despite my repeated efforts to politely suggest that she call or text first to see if it’s a good time to come by. I like to keep my front door open when the weather is nice, but she seems to view it as an open invitation to come over. To make it worse, she does not ring the bell when the door is open, she stands there and yells my name till I come to the door. Ugh! I think it all comes down to treating your neighbor with the same respect and courtesy with which you would like to be treated.
Hello, Nancy! I have a new neighbor at my apartment complex; our doors face each other and are only about a dozen feet apart. She and her friends are causing some aggravation for my dogs and me:
* They drop pieces of paper, etc. and don’t pick them up * Our trash valet picks up Sunday thru Thursday evenings (we are to put it out 4-6pm; it gets picked up 8-10pm). She often leaves hers out all day, and a couple of times on Friday morning through the weekend!
* I often walk through a cloud of pot smoke, which I don’t mind. But, please don’t be so loud (TV, music, talking, laughing, and saying goodbye or conversing right outside my door or bedroom window at late hours), especially on work nights.
Do I nicely speak with her next time I actually see her in passing? Or, are these things that I need to accept as normal apartment living crap?
This is a good post. I tell people right off that if they ” pop over” that I will not answer the door.Call first!
We moved into a older neighborhood, which we love, though some of our neighbors are very nice others never speak. When we are outside doing yard work they will drive by very slowly to see what we are doing. We try to say hi, but they usually never respond. We were told that a very strange man lived here before. The neighbors tell us they really like us, but it’s weird! We have changed a lot of things and that’s why everyone looks to see what we are doing. Just ranting!