Crammed together as we are in our densely populated metro area, peaceful relationships with our neighbors are key to residential serenity. And yet, most New Yorkers have a nightmare neighbor story to tell.
So what, in fact, makes a good neighbor? Here are a few tips:
You've likely heard the saying, "New York is a city of neighborhoods." Well, most of New York's best neighborhoods are comprised of residents who know one another, look out for each other and care about their surroundings. The first step to that sort of neighborhood nirvana is getting to know your fellow neighbors. See a familiar face on your block or in your building? Say hello and introduce yourself. Notice new folks moving in? Welcome them to the 'hood and offer to share your best restaurant, bodega and dry cleaner recommendations. There's no law saying you have to become instant besties, but knowing each other's names can go a long way in building a mutually respectful and peaceful environment for all.
Keep the Peace (and Quiet)
Did you know that noise is the No. 1 complaint made to New York City's 311 line? Whether you're outdoors or inside your apartment, it's important to be sensitive to whom you might be disturbing, especially late at night. Among most people we asked, 10 p.m. seemed like a reasonable cut-off time for loud TV or music, nailing something into a wall or excessive clanging and banging in the kitchen, especially around shared walls. If you have downstairs neighbors, taking off your shoes in your home should be standard practice, and placing area rugs in high-traffic areas is a requirement in many leases.
Lend a Hand
This one seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes we get so caught up in our own needs (and phone screens) we fail to notice what's going on around us. See your neighbor struggling with groceries? Offer to help. Is your neighbor headed out of town? Ask if they'd like you to bring in their mail or deliveries. See suspicious activity around your neighbor's property? Keep them informed. And for goodness sakes, hold the building door open when someone's behind you!
Keep Pets in Check
Not everyone will love your furry friend as much as you do, so make sure they mind their manners around neighbors. That means, above all, cleaning up their messes out on the street. Extra points for keeping noise to a minimum, preventing destructive behaviors and making sure they stick to your yard.
If you tend to lean toward a casual approach to housekeeping indoors, that's fine. But your home's outside appearance impacts your entire neighborhood, so keep things on the neat side. That means keeping lawns trimmed and hedges clipped, preventing rubbish from piling up, ensuring bikes and vehicles are out of the way, and maintaining your façade and stoop.
Talk it Out
Perhaps the most important way to be a good neighbor is to keep lines of communication open. Address problems quickly, before they become insurmountable grudges. You might be surprised how often other people don’t realize their noise is travelling through the floor or that their kids are leaving their bikes in your driveway. Be cordial, solutions-focused and remember, we're all in this great big city together. So, let's make the most of it, neighbor!