Aurel Garban's Blog
When shopping for your new home, you can investigate and gauge many things about the house itself and even about the neighborhood as a whole to help make the best decision. One thing that's difficult to gauge or even factor into your decision making is your immediate neighbors. You might be able to look at their yard to see how they care for their home, or you might be able to tell right away if they have a loud animal, but you won't know them until after you've moved in and have lived in the new house for a while. Even if you could know ahead of time if they have noisy barbecues or a teenager with an aspiring rock band should that play into your decision? Your initial neighbors might decide to sell their home, or they might actually be renters, so you have no idea how long they'll be there. While getting a read on the community as a whole is essential—do people generally seem to care about their homes, are their clean streets and shared areas, etc.—you shouldn't refrain from buying the best house for you because you're concerned about your neighbors.
So, what to do if you move into your new home and it turns out your immediate neighbors aren’t so great?
If you find that your neighbor doesn’t do much upkeep on their front yard, there isn’t a whole lot you can do. If you see them when you're out mowing or weed-eating, you can offer to do theirs as well, as a friendly neighbor, but you can't go much farther than that. If their backyard has a lot of trash or messy kids toys or even a few old cars they haven't gotten around to working on you can do some things to keep their unsightly belongings from affecting an afternoon on your back patio.
- Privacy fencing: If your home didn't have privacy fencing when you made the purchase, consider installing a new fence. There are affordable ways to implement privacy fencing that will create a visual barrier between you and your neighbor. Bonus — if they have a dog that likes to bark at anything it sees, or it just doesn't get along with your dog, the fencing will help prevent unwanted barking and extra noise.
- Plant trees or bamboo: It’s a bit costlier but installing a line of medium-sized trees that grow tall (and quickly) or installing a second layer of "fencing" with a row of bamboo will increase the visual and sound barriers in addition to improving the beautiful greenery in your yard.
- Direct attention away: If your yard is big enough to have a couple of different living areas try placing those areas on the opposite side of the yard from your neighbors and direct attention to your useable space. Install a gazebo in the back corner or hang a shade awning over the patio. Circle furniture up around a built-in BBQ facing away from the other yard. Light up the areas you use with string lights or tiki torches and leave the view along the less than desirable fence line darkened.
- Outdoor Sound System: It's tempting to overpower your neighbor's loud music, but you can install an outdoor sound system that focuses on the entertaining and living areas of your yard to create more of a sound barrier between their loud music, dogs or children. Kind of like how restaurants use loud music to give each table privacy, you can give yourself a bit of privacy, and peace with strategically installed speakers.
Finally, be a good neighbor. The primary key to having good neighbors is to be one. Be friendly, be open and be inviting. Follow the same considerate living principles you desire from your neighbors. Engage with your neighbors and become acquaintances or even friends. Who knows, the dad next door with the son who wants to learn death metal might need a break from the noise too, and could be the best new addition to your guys night.
If you're not exactly sure how to approach an issue with your new living arrangement, speak with your real estate professional for the best advice.