Music blasting and dogs barking at all hours of the morning and night. People fighting in the building and others, who do not even live there with access to keys to our building. Lights burned out for long periods in areas that are usually lighted and other areas where the lights are on during the day. Welcome to NYC. Fences broken, which allow trespassers to enter our property and the association defers to the manager, who are supposed to answer to their demands.
When you move somewhere new or wind up staying put for years and years, as my wife and I have, how do you avoid a neighborly nuisance?
It starts with getting to know each other. In celebration of National Good Neighbor Day, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you build bridges with folks next door.
Knock, knock... For an extrovert, walking over to a neighbor’s home to say hello may feel like a no-brainer. But for more reserved personalities, this tried-and-true method usually requires a bit of warmup. Start with a friendly wave as you drive by, then work your way up to a face-to-face introduction. Remember, timing is everything. You don’t want to disturb your neighbors in the middle of dinner or while they’re struggling to get a fussy toddler down for the night. Try to catch them when they’re already outside, or aim for a weekend afternoon when everyone is much more likely to be relaxed and open to a brief, friendly chat.
Snail mail... Can’t work up the nerve to knock on doors? In this age of electronic communication, a nice handwritten note can be a welcome surprise. Write a few lines for your closest neighbors introducing yourself and inviting them over for a cup of coffee or cocktail at their convenience. Be sure to personalize each note by including a small conversation starter — the roses in front of your home are absolutely stunning; we’re poodle-lovers, too! — then drop your letters at your neighbors’ front doors or in their mailboxes.
Man’s best friend... Most pets often are the friendliest members of the family. Not here, but most. Let a four-legged companion break the ice. Dog parks are a natural spot for meeting new friends, both canine and human. You can also meet fellow pet lovers while walking your dog through your neighborhood — cleaning up any messes, of course. You can get recommendations for trails, vets and parks, as well as ask about any pet-themed meetups in the area.
Turn the page... Don’t let the name fool you: Book clubs are as much about socializing as they are about reading. Check out your library or local bookstore for groups near you, or you can find one online. If possible, contact the host ahead of time to ask whether you should bring any refreshments (wine!) and come armed with a few key insights about the book and recommendations for the following go-round. Who knows? You could pick the next talk of the town.
Life of the party... Once you’ve made a few connections, team up to host a neighborhood block party. Volunteer to handle snacks and other logistics, and ask your more-established neighbors to spread the word. Pick a seasonal theme — hot dogs and lemonade for summer, cookies and warm cider for fall — and spend an afternoon meeting new friends and getting the inside scoop on the best places to eat and play near your new home. Before you call it a day, pass the torch to another neighbor and make the block party a new tradition.
Realizing that much like neighborly quarrels, adversarial property laws have been around for ages. And accordingly, ancient lawmakers devised notions such as deeds, rules, and laws to ensure owners are apprised of their limits. Unfortunately, conflict between neighbors remains commonplace, and so far I have avoided a major lawsuit, with unrelenting litigation, and have tried to reason with folks...