Life in the Suburbs: Are You a Polite Neighbor?

As neighborhoods have developed over the years and available space to build have decreased, it seems that homes are built closer and closer together.  In my neighborhood of Braemar, it is not at all unusual to have a four-thousand or more square foot home on one-quarter to one-third of an acre of land.  So as people are living closer and closer together, it seems that we all still need our “space.”

I serve on a home owner’s association, and in that capacity, I get to see many complaints coming through that involve the lack of neighborly behavior. From these complaints has emerged a framework of what being a good suburban neighbor entails.  Here are some general neighborly tips to respect the space of those around you, and in turn, have them respect your space.

When walking your dog, large or small, make sure it is on a leash.  This one is so basic, but somehow, gets ignored.  In fact, in Prince William County, it is an ordinance.  You are not to let your dog out in public without it being on a leash.   Yet, somehow, owners who just know their animals will obey them and will never hurt anyone let their dogs run free.  I heard a story out of my own neighborhood about a pitbull that ran up on several adults, in a playful manner.  It frightened the adults, being that pitbulls have a bad reputation for turning on people.  Then, it started chasing a child.  The whole time, the owner stood there chatting, not worried at all about the inconvenience, or stress, being experienced by those around her.

If your dog poops on anything other than your lawn, be it common area or a neighbor’s yard, pick it up.  It’s your dog.  And yes, it’s gross to have to pick up a warm steaming pile of dog doo-doo.  If that’s how you feel and you LOVE the dog, imagine how your nieghbor feels when they have zero connection to it.  Besides, this is coming out as one of the major watershed pollution problems in Virginia.  Yes, when it rains, that pile of crap gets swept away in tiny particles that can end up in your drinking water.  Just some food for thought.

Do not walk through people’s yards to get where you are going, and don’t play on their driveways.  This is an issue of trespassing.  While it may be fun to ride your motorscooters in long private drives that belong to others, or to walk through your neighbors yard to get somewhere, it shows a lack of respect for your neighbor’s property.  Just think, how would you feel if someone walked through your backyard? 

Do not park your cars in front of other people’s houses.  This is a much bigger one than people realize.  Maybe it’s the sheer number of people living in single family homes these days, or just that they are using their two car garages as storage, but our home owner’s association gets this complaint constantly.  No one wants your cars in front of their homes day in and day out.  It’s one thing to have a party and have guests parking up and down your street for a few hours, but when you can’t even keep the cars you have on, or in front of your own property, you are just being rude.

Just some observations I’ve made about suburban living.  If you follow these, your neighbors will love you.

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