Unless you live on 10 acres in the middle of wine country or farmland, part of life is having neighbors. In some instances, this can be the greatest thing on earth and in others…well, let’s just say that if there was life on Mars (and a Whole Foods Market), you might consider making a move there. For example, let’s take a look at the brand new Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy, “Neighbors,” which opens this Friday. Synopsis: A nice, young couple with a newborn baby gains new next-door neighbors who just happen to be a college fraternity. As expected, hilarious chaos ensues in the form of office-chair-air-bag hijinks, insane parties and debauchery in just about every form. And it’s really funny to watch. Although, if you had to actually live it, the funny factor may be lacking. (Well, it may still be a little funny since your office water-cooler stories would be legendary. It’s all in the perspective!) We haven’t seen the full movie yet, but we’re guessing that Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogan and Rose Bryne respectively) didn’t book the space shuttle at the end. Because in movies as in life, there are usually ways to overcome these problems.
Now most homeowners normally attempt to be good neighbors and shy away from activities like blocking driveways with friends’ cars, letting grass grow to thigh-high lengths and blasting Pharrell Williams “Happy” on their outdoor speakers at 11 pm. Most of us know better, don’t we? But yet, we’re human and there are times that we’re so involved with our own lives, we forget we could be interrupting someone else’s. So here are a few etiquette tips to remind you how to be a superstar neighbor.
1. Be Neighborly
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it’s amazing how many people are too busy or distracted to make an effort to be cordial to their neighbors. Just a wave or a “good morning” can do wonders for a neighborly relationship. That doesn’t mean you should stop over daily, though—respecting a person’s personal space is a virtue.
2. Tell Friends to Lay Off the Horn
If your friends are picking you up for a night on the town, tell them to give you a call when they’re in front. Honking the car horn is just plain obnoxious…especially when it’s late at night.
3. Keep Noise to a Minimum
The rule of thumb is to avoid making unnecessary noise (aka: thunderous music, loud get-togethers, practicing guitar) between 9 PM and 9 AM every day. Yes, you may be raring to get that lawn mowed at 6:30 AM on Sunday, but your neighbor might not think it’s so grand.
4. Pick Up Your Pup’s “Business”
When your adorable pup does his business on your neighbors’ lawn, do not leave it there and tip toe away. Telling your neighbor you’re doing him a favor because “it makes great fertilizer!” honestly won’t work. Just buy the doggy poop bags and dispensers and start scooping.
5. Keep Up Your Property
No neighbors find it endearing when the homes next door to them are unkempt. So make sure your lawn isn’t waist high, your kids’ toys aren’t all over the front lawn and any litter (even if you didn’t put it there) is thrown in the proper receptacle.
6. Talk Your Problems Out
If you do have a problem with a neighbor, don’t call the police or the Home Owners Association unless you’re feeling threatened or in danger. Try to talk your problems out with your neighbor in a friendly, adult way. They likely don’t even realize they’ve done anything un-neighborly.
7. Return What You Borrow
If you borrow something from your neighbor, use it and return it right away (unless it’s a cup of sugar, of course). There’s nothing more annoying than looking for your hand mixer, screwdriver or extra batteries and realizing that Mr. “I promise I’ll have it right back to you” Jones never returned it.
8. Try Old-Fashioned Welcomes
If you have a new neighbor, welcome them to the area with some homemade pastries, a bottle of wine or a nice houseplant. There’s no better way to get off on the right foot than with a smile and a little hospitality.
Are you a superstar neighbor? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below—and if you want to feel lucky about your current neighbors, go see “Neighbors” at a theater near you!