Working together with your neighbours on improving security and maintaining your neighbourhood develops community spirit and leads to higher property values.
When new owners moved into the house across the road, were you the neighbour who went to welcome them with a pizza and a bottle of wine so they didn’t have to make dinner after a long day of unpacking? Or were you the one checking out their furniture from behind your curtains?
It’s unfortunate, but these days neighbours tend not to know one another as well as they used to, perhaps for fear of “getting too involved” in other people’s lives, or perhaps just because high walls and security systems make it difficult to even start a friendly conversation.
“However,” says Gerhard Kotzé, MD of the RealNet estate agency group, “it’s a fact that areas where neighbours regularly work together to improve security, for example, or clean up a park, or protect a wetland, are not only safer and better-maintained than other areas, but also develop a strong community spirit that makes them especially sought-after among prospective home buyers.
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“In short, good neighbours make for higher home values, so it really is worth getting to know the people who live next door and down the road. Of course, it makes things easier if you’re all of a similar age, or have similar age children all going to the local school, but there are also lots of other possible meeting places or interests you might have in common if you’re not afraid to make the first move.”
Another advantage of having a good relationship with your neighbours, he notes, is that you can ask them to keep an eye on your home when you’re on holiday, contact you in case of an emergency and collect your mail. “But then you need to be a good neighbour in return. Try keeping noise to a minimum, for example. Waking them at dawn on a Sunday with your favourite rock anthems blasting while you wash the car is hardly likely to endear you to them.”
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Power tools, pets and loud parties can also easily lead to arguments and it’s a good idea to let your neighbours know if you’re having a braai or pool party that may run late – or invite them if you think they would enjoy it - and to try to keep your pets indoors during the early hours of the morning.
“If you live in a complex or estate,” says Kotzé, “it is also particularly important to try to always park in your own space or garage and ensure that your guests don’t block your neighbours’ driveways or park in front of their garage doors.
“And finally, it’s worth remembering that a good neighbourhood can be made even better with a dash of pride. Keep the areas beyond your immediate garden neat and tidy and your home in good condition, and your neighbours will most likely be motivated to do the same. No-one wants to own the shabbiest home on the street.”