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Being a Great Neighbor

5 ways to be nice to those around you when you live off-campus.

If you’re finally living off-campus for the first time, congrats, you’ve just graduated to the next level of college-level independence. While you don’t have to answer to your RA anymore, you will have to answer to the neighbors living around you. If this is your first time living off-campus, here are some tips I’ve learned on how to “make nice” with the neighbors.

1. GOOD FENCES DON’T MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS

Don’t ignore your neighbors; introduce yourself early on. If you live around students, this can help broaden your social circle. If you live around people not affiliated with the university, take the time to discuss expectations and boundaries. You don’t them to get to know you the wrong way — as those people that blast music at 3 a.m.

2. KNOW YOUR LAWS

Before you decide to throw that first party — do your research. Take the time to look up the city’s procedures regarding loud noise and disturbing the peace. If the police do visit your place, you may not necessarily get fined the first time. But if they have to come again, the fines will definitely start piling up. Following these laws not only saves you money, it shows respect for your neighbors.

3. ONE’S MAN TRASH… IS STILL TRASH

Those red Solo cups on your lawn? Shockingly, not the best look. Your fellow student-neighbors may be a little more understanding, but any non-students might be a little annoyed or disgusted. You can be messy – in your house – but not outside of your place and especially not in your neighbor’s space.

4. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

In the instance that you do find yourself in conflict with your neighbor — perhaps they called the police on you, sent an angry note or are just downright cranky. Don’t get upset or do something else to spite them. When you finally approach them, explain your feelings and try to understand theirs. Showing some kindness to your neighbor may help build a bridge or two.

5. POP THE BUBBLE

Every now and then, get out of the university bubble and get involved in your community. Head over to the local farmer’s markets or support local businesses, such as coffee shops or bookstores. Doing so shows your neighbors that, while you may only be living there for the school year, you still care about the community.

This article first appeared in USAToday College.

Features

Off-campus housing extends into neighborhoods around the University. Photo by Joanne Lee