When I was in college, I suffered through four years of living above six rugby players who woke up to AC/DC and Rush every morning. They played it so loud the dishes would rattle in my own apartment. I was really looking forward to becoming a grown up and living in a real neighborhood, where everyone was happy, mature and easy to get along with. Ha. I quickly learned that grown up neighbors can be even more difficult to live with. People fight over dog poop and lawn chemicals. It’s insane.
Some bad neighbors can hurt the value of your home. According to MSN, mess matters. Your home’s value can decrease if you have a neighbor who doesn’t care about the upkeep of his house.
Maybe you have a neighbor who is too loud, too messy or just plain odd. Unless you want to sell your house and move away, you need to find a way to deal with it. Don’t be a complainer. Instead, use constructive behavior and positive reinforcement to win over even the most difficult people next door. Here are a few tips:
- Develop relationships. If the only thing you know about your neighbor is that he drives an oil-dripping clunker and parks it on the street, you are at a disadvantage. Introduce yourself to the people you live near. This will make it easier on you when you need to ask for their help. Be friendly, even if it hurts.
- Offer to help. Be willing to water plants and check mail when your neighbors are on vacation. If you get on everybody’s good side, they’ll back you up when there is a terrible neighbor to confront or a problem to deal with.
- Stay calm. If the woman next door starts screaming at you about the leaves your tree is dropping in her yard, don’t scream back. Acknowledge the problem and suggest some solutions. You do not need to stoop to her level. Instead, ask one of the neighborhood kids to help out by raking her lawn in exchange for ten bucks.
- Don’t be a gossip girl. Or guy. Who cares if Mrs. Wilson is sleeping with Mr. Jones? It’s not your business. While it can be fun and tempting to dish, put yourself in your neighbor’s shoes. Do you want anyone talking about your chocolate brownie habit or your addiction to Law and Order reruns? No, you do not.
- Play nice. Slap a smile on your face and fight off your inclination to be sarcastic and retaliatory. If one of your terrible neighbors likes to yell, insult or inflame, take the high road. It can be hard to be a grown up, really hard. But, remember what your mother probably said if she is anything like my mother: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It will make you feel like a better person because you are a better person.
Check out the neighborhood as much as you can before you move in. Ask your broker or agent for demographics and try to visit the area during different times of the day. Talk to the people you see in the vicinity of your potential new home. You might make a new friend. Or, decide to live elsewhere.