You can choose your friends, but you can’t always choose your neighbors—here’s how to live on the same block in peace
When you were looking for the perfect home, you may have fretted over wood floors, granite countertops, and closet space. What you may not have thought about is one thing that comes with every house that’s almost impossible to change: your neighbors. For better or worse, you’re stuck with them. Here are five neighborly nightmares you may be familiar with and a few ideas on how to cope with their quirks.
The Perfectly Put-Together Family
It doesn’t matter if they’re cleaning ice off the car at 7 a.m. or coming home from the gym at 7 p.m.—they always look perfectly tailored and coiffed, and so do their children. Why does this bother you so much? It. Just. Does.
How to Deal: Remember that their perfection is not a referendum on your imperfection. Still, if you’re constantly comparing yourself to the Fabulous Family, you can either use them as inspiration to up your game, or whole-heartedly embrace your love of yoga-pants and flip-flops. You do you. Also keep in mind that people’s lives are rarely as perfect as they seem on the surface.
The Tacky Holiday Enthusiasts
’Tis the season…every season. Not only does it look like Santa’s workshop took up residence on their front lawn every December, but they also go all-out for Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mickey Mouse’s birthday. and whatever other obscure holiday pops up on their Internet calendar.
How to Deal: Just grin and bear it. Even though your neighbors’ tacky tastes may not match up with your more subtle aesthetics, try to look at the gaudiness from a child’s point of view. It’s like going to Disney World every week for free!
They know everyone’s business—including yours—and they love to talk about it with anyone who will listen.
How to Deal: Limit your conversations with them to only the most surface topics—the weather, the local football time, the great mileage you’re getting on your new car. If they start to pry into your business, or start whispering gossip about the Smiths across the street, always smile, say firmly, “I’m really not comfortable talking about that, Bob,” and then suddenly remember you have an urgent phone call to make inside the house.
Whether they’re having a family tiff, throwing a party or just talking to one another, you are going to hear every word of it, no matter what time of the day or night.
How to Deal: Daytime shenanigans can be annoying, but it’s the nighttime ones that can give you serious grief, interrupting your kids’ sleep and your hard-earned peace and quiet. If it’s a constant problem, knock on their door with a box of cookies and say in a non-accusatory way, “You probably don’t realize this, but your stereo speakers are pointed right at little Lila’s bedroom window, and the noise has been keeping her up. Can we think of a way to solve this together?” If they’re still making a racket, look up your town’s noise-control laws and call in the cops if you need to.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for a cup of sugar or a random gardening tool. But these neighbors are always asking to borrow something and never return a borrowed item unless you’ve asked for it back a dozen times.
How to Deal: Set up a specific return timeline when you loan out the item. Ask how long they’ll need it, and designate a day and time to pick it up. Yes, there’s one extra step in there for you, but you’ll get your things back while still being helpful and friendly.