How to be a good neighbour: Etiquette experts share their top tips

How to be a good neighbour: Etiquette experts share their top tips

By Zara Macdonald 23 October 2018, The Age

In an era when our heads are invariably in our phones and time is a precious commodity, our relationships with our neighbours perhaps aren’t the formative relationships they used to be.

But friendship aside, there is a relationship to be had with the people who live around us by virtue of non-negotiable geography.

So, if you’re always going to be around your neighbours, here are some surefire ways to making sure you’re being a good one, according to etiquette experts.

Don’t be a stranger

According to the director of the Australian School of Etiquette, Zarife Hardy, do the thing so many of us seem to be avoiding these days: introduce yourself.

“Talk to them. Get to know them,” Hardy says, acknowledging not only is it the right thing to do, but it it can also work in your favour eventually, too.

“If you find yourself solo parenting at any stage, you will be less frustrated by fighting siblings if you know there is outside help available.”

Be a good sport

“Treat your neighbours as you would have them treat you,” Hardy says.

“Your new blower awaits you in the garage, you’ve tided your driveway, paths and garden to your heart’s content. While you’re at it, clear your neighbour’s footpath and nature strip. You have had a great vegetable season, share your harvest with your neighbour.”

Etiquette expert at The Good Manners Company, Anna Musson, agrees.

“If you live in a house bring your neighbour’s bins in. It’s amazing how this 30-second gesture can foster great neighbourly relations.”

Personal space

Hardy says proper etiquette would be to call before visiting.

More than that, she says it’s not appropriate for children or pets to roam free on other people’s property without express permission.

“Make sure your children are familiar with these rules and make sure any pets don’t use their yard,” she says.

Keep the volume down

Musson says keeping the volume down would be “be the number-one neighbourly complaint”.

“Loud footsteps, using the lawn mower before 9am, talking loudly and pumping music [are bad manners],” she says.

“If you are going to have a party, let your neighbours know ahead of time and let them know what time the party will be finishing so they’ll know when to expect some quiet time. If it’s possible you should always invite them.”

Be mindful of the balcony

“Love barbecuing on your balcony? Consider the stink of barbecued fish or worst, cigarette smoke,” Musson says.

“Balconies are not the sacred outdoor space in apartments that they used to be. The best tip for managing your cigarettes or barbecue is to chat or knock on your neighbour’s door, ask if the smoke, music or barbecue bothers them and invite them in for a drink from time to time.”

It’s never good form to park on the grass

“Park on the street and preferably in front of your own house if you can manage it,” Musson says.

“This is especially true for trailers and boats and — worst of all, old cars that you’re doing up.”

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