One thing that’s made it tougher to be a good neighbor recently is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While good neighbors watch each other’s kids and invite each other to parties and events, those are things no one should be doing right now — in fact, they could put your neighbors at risk, which is the opposite of being a good neighbor.
So, for as long as the pandemic continues (and as it finally comes to an end), consider these neighborly actions.
For now, keep your distance
One of the best things you can do for your neighbors at the moment is keep your distance from them. COVID-19 is deadly and highly contagious, so social distancing from friends and neighbors helps keep them (and you) as safe as possible.
Another aspect of being a good neighbor right now is not having parties or gatherings. Putting yourself at risk inevitably puts the people around you at risk, and that includes your neighbors. Follow CDC directives and stay socially distanced, wear a mask, and do your part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Create a bubble with neighbors you trust
If you and your neighbors are being careful about following CDC guidelines, it’s possible to create a “bubble” with a few neighbors you trust to exhibit safe behavior. That means you can visit each other’s homes and spend time together, creating opportunities for much-needed social contact while still staying safe.
This is an especially good idea if you and your neighbors have kids who are similar ages who are remote learning during the pandemic. Kids miss their friends and crave social interaction, so creating a bubble to give them that safe opportunity for interaction is the kind of thing a great neighbor would do.
Share cards, gifts, and garden hauls
Experts say COVID-19 isn’t reliably spread on surfaces, which means it’s pretty safe to do things like sending cards or small gifts occasionally to help encourage your neighbors during quarantine. You could even share homemade baked goods or some vegetables from your garden. Just be sure to arrange a contact-free drop-off for anything you do decide to share.
Start a neighborhood free game room, library, or food bank
For years, Little Free Libraries have been a popular community resource, but they’re even better in a pandemic because they provide a way for neighbors to intermingle with one another with no physical contact required. You could even expand on the idea and create a free board game cabinet for neighbors to borrow from. Or, if anyone in your neighborhood is struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic, start a neighborhood food pantry where everyone can help each other out with non-perishable goods.
Organize a distanced service project
There’s no time like a crisis to give back to your neighborhood and your community. Rally your neighbors to do some good with a socially distanced service project. For some ideas, you could clean up an elderly neighbor’s yard, pick up litter in a park or other public place in your neighborhood, start a community garden, or organize a meal train for a family that’s sick or in quarantine. Any service project that allows you to stay in your own homes or outdoors and spread out should be a safe option right now.
Keep up with your neighbors and take care of one another
The pandemic has created a lot of new challenges for many people. One of the best things you can do right now is just keep up with your neighbors. Make it a habit to drop them an email once a week, or give them a call. See how they’re doing. And if anyone gets sick, see what you can do to help take care of them. If they’re quarantined at home, they probably need help with getting food or medicine, and you can step up.
Related post: The 25 Most Neighborly Cities in America
How to Be a Good Neighbor As the Pandemic Ends
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel! With vaccine distribution beginning, we now know that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic could be coming as soon as this year. So as the pandemic ends, how can you be a good neighbor? Here are a few ideas.
Invite your neighbors over
As the pandemic ends, we’re all going to have something in common: We’re going to be absolutely starved for social contact with other people. So as vaccines continue to roll out and people in your neighborhood receive theirs, start planning social get-togethers. You can just have a neighbor or two over for a low-key time at home, or organize an entire block party. Let’s celebrate being able to truly be neighbors again.
Offer to house and pet sit
Odds are, your neighbors will be doing some traveling after the pandemic ends. People have put off seeing loved ones and taking vacations while it’s been dangerous to travel, and will likely want to make up for some lost time. With that in mind, offer to keep an eye on the house, grab the mail, and check in on pets for neighbors who are heading out of town. If you offer to do it for them, odds are good that they’ll return the favor, giving you a chance to take a long-awaited post-pandemic trip.
Be respectful with parties and gatherings
As you start to gather with friends and family again, it might be easy to get caught up in the excitement after such a long time spent social distancing. But age-old rule about being courteous with your gatherings still apply: Make sure guests park in appropriate places, don’t be too loud, cut things off at an appropriate hour, and give your neighbors a heads up (or an invite) before you host a large party.
How to Be a Good Neighbor — All the Time
This pandemic isn’t going to last forever, and life should return to something resembling normalcy soon. So without all these special circumstances to take into account, here’s how to be a good neighbor all the time.
Remember the golden rule
There’s one way to be a good neighbor that never goes out of style: Living by the Golden Rule. Treat others how you would like to be treated, and you’re unlikely to ever be anything less than a good neighbor.
Share important information
Good neighbors are ones who keep each other in the know.
NextDoor provides a pre-built platform for this, and it comes with features like crime tracking, buying and selling, and more. But you can keep things more simple than that. A neighborhood website, email list, or even a text chain can be all it takes to keep neighbors in the loop about anything important that’s going on.
But don’t gossip
On the other hand, it’s important not to be the neighborhood gossip. Talking about your neighbors behind their backs is some decidedly un-neighborly conduct, so don’t do that. It’s also a good idea to be mindful about what you post about your neighborhood and neighbors on social media. Everyone needs to vent sometimes, but if you’re venting about the people next door in a place where they can see what you’ve said, you should probably think twice before hitting “publish” on that post.
Be a responsible pet owner
If you have cats, keep them indoors so they don’t leave waste on your neighbors’ property or hunt the local bird population. And if you’re a dog owner, keep your pet on a leash during walks and clean up after him or her. A big part of being a good neighbor is making sure it’s never anyone else’s job to look after your pets — unless a good neighbor has volunteered to watch them while you’re away, of course.
Offer up extra space in your home
If you have a spare closet, attic space, or shelves in the garage that you aren’t using, be a good neighbor by offering that space for someone nearby who needs a safe and secure spot to store some of their belongings. Neighbor is a peer-to-peer platform that matches people’s empty space with other people’s extra stuff — and brings people and neighborhoods together in the process. Check it out, and list your extra space today.
Take good care of your home
Everyone in your neighborhood has a vested interest in keeping home values as high as possible and avoiding eyesores in the neighborhood. That’s why all neighbors have a shared responsibility to take good care of their homes. Repaint when needed. Landscape your front yard, if you have one. Keep up with regular maintenance and make sure your home stays safe, clean, and nice-looking.
Take pride in your neighborhood
And, on that note, keep in mind that your responsibility isn’t just to your home. There’s more to the neighborhood than that.
Great neighbors go above and beyond to make sure the entire community is a place where people take care of one another and want to live. Invest your time and resources in public and community spaces that make the neighborhood nicer. Look out for your neighbors and help them take care of their homes, too.
At the end of the day, neighborhoods would be nothing without the people who live in them. That’s what it all comes down to — and why being a good neighbor is so important.