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Moving is an exciting adventure. You might have oodles of new sights to see, depending on how far you go. You’ll meet different folks — but you may need tips for dealing with some of your new neighbors.
It takes all kinds to make the world go around, and each one wants the same thing: the quiet enjoyment of their property. Most of your neighbors will be a joy to meet. However, a few might cause you to raise your eyebrows. A rare handful could threaten your peace.
What can you do to smooth community relationships in your new place? Here are tips for dealing with the five types of neighbors you might meet when you move.
Type #1: The Nosy Parker
The days of the town crier may be relics of yesteryear, but every neighborhood has someone with their finger on the pulse of everything that goes down. In a way, this neighbor is one of the best sorts. Why? As many as one in six Americans doesn’t know any of their neighbors’ names, fueling loneliness and making daily survival more challenging — where can you borrow sugar in a pinch?
However, you might need tips for dealing with this type of neighbor if they turn toxic by fueling the gossip machine. It’s bad enough to have your dirty laundry aired all over town and even worse if there’s nothing substantial to the rumors. You have reason to be angry, but adding gasoline to the blaze risks making you look worse and igniting an ongoing feud that makes you feel miserable in your home.
Instead, wait until you feel calm enough to separate yourself from the situation. Remember, people who spread malicious rumors do so because they feel insecure, seeking to protect their fragile egos by making others feel bad.
Then, set a private time to chat with this individual, letting them know how their behavior affects you. Speaking in a calm, collected tone is key to keeping tempers from escalating. In the future, try to avoid this person — or at least refrain from telling them your most intimate secrets.
Type #2: The Party Animal
The first time your neighbor’s grunge band rehearsal wakes you up at midnight, you let it slide. “After all, I was young once, too,” you think as you resolve to practice patience and compassion. However, after two weeks of interrupted sleep, your nerves begin to wear thin.
Noisy neighbors come in two flavors: the traditional party animal keeps you up late with loud music and conversation. Then there’s the weekend warrior, who thinks 7 a.m. on a Sunday is the perfect time to run the leaf blower.
Many people skip civility and file a noise complaint, but jumping to this conclusion can fuel ongoing tension, making your living situation uncomfortable. Instead, try this multistep approach before calling the authorities:
- Gently knock: Let them know their noise is disturbing you, and politely ask them to keep it down.
- Communicate again: Often, your neighbor will dial things down a notch on that occasion — then go back to their antics. The problem compounds if, on your initial visit, you uttered some variation of, “It’s just that I have this big presentation in the morning,” making them believe the noise was a temporary disturbance. Instead, openly but politely explain what you can hear through your walls.
- Offer suggestions: Soundproofing techniques often aren’t hard to implement. Closing the garage door during band practice could do the trick. You can use tips like hanging curtains yourself and gently suggest your neighbor do the same.
If this approach doesn’t work, you may have no alternative but to seek help. Your building manager is your first stop if you live in an apartment. Otherwise, call the non-emergency line for your local authorities for the correct process.
Type #3: The Constant Complainer
They dampen the happiest occasions with their doom and gloom. While complaining neighbors might seem harmless if depressed on the surface, their dour outlook on the state of the world puts you in a glum mood every time you interact. There might be truth to their words — but just because you have a sea of negativity in front of you doesn’t mean you have to swim in it.
Fortunately, dealing with this type of neighbor is a snap. Limit your interactions to small doses but check in from time to time — the occasional gripe session can be cathartic and soul-soothing. Better yet, follow it by brainstorming practical solutions for what you can do to address the problem.
Type #4: The Perpetual Plaintiff
You need considerable inner strength to deal with this type of neighbor. The perpetual plaintiff constantly seeks to get rich the adversarial way — by suing anyone and everyone they can.
Their grievances are many. Noise is a common complaint. Suppose you’re as quiet as the proverbial churchmouse. In that case, they’ll claim the scent of your incense wafting through your open windows triggers their asthma, your fence encroaches a fraction of an inch over their property line in one corner, or your child was “mean” to theirs by refusing to share a favorite toy.
Try a reasonable approach and talk with them first. Also, be mindful of whether you are at fault and discuss solutions instead of taking a hardline, “Oh, that’s ridiculous” attitude. However, if you’re sure you’re in the right, protect yourself by documenting everything that occurs:
- Begin an electronic diary or even send emails to yourself reporting every encounter. Using technology includes a time stamp that’s tough to contest in court.
- Install video cameras and know the law. While installing video surveillance cameras that cover your property is okay, some states prohibit audio recordings of people without their permission. Furthermore, lawsuits have occurred where one neighbor claimed another pointed home cameras at their property — avoid doing this and keep timestamped surveillance records to show your coverage zone.
- Take photos of any damage or areas of contention, emailing them to yourself (for that time stamp again).
Type #5: The Adult Pigpen
The last type of neighbor you might have to deal with is the pigpen. You can spot these folks in nearly any residential neighborhood without an HOA — they’re the ones with rusted-out cars up on blocks, dotting their knee-high grass like wannabe steampunk lawn ornaments. In apartments, they’re the ones fueling infestations with their untidy ways.
The problem is that their mess affects your property values. As with any dispute, talking to your neighbor first is best, especially if you don’t know their circumstances. For example, someone dealing with a long-term or chronic illness may desperately want to clean up their lawn but lack the physical ability or finances — medical expenses don’t leave much for professional landscapers. Perhaps you could lend a neighborly hand?
However, you may have no choice but to contact authorities if they won’t clean up the mess and refuse good-faith offers of help. Nearly every municipality has rules governing property appearance — contact your local city or county offices to learn the procedure.
Tips for Dealing With Neighbors
Moving is an exciting adventure — and so is dealing with new neighbors. While most people you meet will be pleasant, and a few become lifelong friends, others can raise your eyebrows and test your patience.
Use these tips for dealing with five types of troublesome neighbors you may encounter. Taking a calm, compassionate approach is generally best for resolving disputes and helping everyone live in peace and relative harmony.