Economic and personal benefits of knowing your neighbor

Sepia photo of neighbors on their front walk in Harlem, N.Y.

What are the benefits of knowing your neighbor? Let me count the ways. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Mr. 119th Street/Flickr)

Despite what Robert Frost wrote, good fences don’t make good neighbors. If you’re kind of person who doesn’t work at forming solid relationships with your neighbors, you’re missing out on some mutually beneficial household and economic opportunities. So be a better neighbor! Here are just some of the major benefits of knowing your neighbor.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 1 – Just an egg

Sometimes, you just need one egg, one cup of sugar or an egg beater. In the dead of winter, you don’t want to have to drive to the store for one of these. If you have good neighbors, however, you can borrow what you need, and make it up to them later by being their source in a pinch.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 2 – House-, pet- and babysitting

Newspapers, mail, pets, plants and home security are all considerations when you’re away on vacation. With a good neighbor you trust, however, you have someone in the neighborhood who you don’t necessarily have to pay to check in on a regular basis while you’re gone. Plus, a good neighbor you trust may be an option for babysitting the kids.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 3 – Collecting mail and newspapers

These deserve a separate mention, as thieves notice when these things begin to accumulate. A good neighbor can remove the clue.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 4 – Shoveling and mowing

Sometimes, people are physically unable to take care of their yards throughout the year. If such is the case, younger, more physically able neighbors may be willing to help, whether it’s for a small fee or trade for your prize-winning scones.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 5 – Knowing the gossip

While gossiping can be harmful, most of the time it’s good, honest fun. Knowing the neighbor who has been around the longest means knowing everything that’s going on – if you’re into pulling back the veil of privacy. On a more useful note, remaining close with neighbors may present you with networking opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 6 – Borrowing tools

Similar to kitchen needs, there will be times when you need a tool for a household job and you simply don’t have it. If your neighbor does, you’ve saved yourself a trip to the hardware store. Just remember to return the tool promptly in the safe condition in which you received it, if not better. Also, be receptive when neighbors ask to borrow your tools.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 7 – Party time

Don’t have a party to go to on Friday night? Your neighbor just might, and if you’re in good with them, you may get an invite. Think free food and drink.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 8 – Swim time

During summer months, get to know a neighbor who has a pool. Instead of spending $15,000 or more on your own in-ground pool, spend money for food and drinks and share a fine barbequing afternoon.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 9 – Get service provider recommendations

Good word of mouth from someone you trust has great value that Craigslist cannot duplicate. If you know your neighbor’s tastes and standards, you can measure those against your own and make a fairly informed decision as to whether to hire a particular service provider.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 10 – Neighborhood watch

If you and your neighbor are looking out for each other, that’s the start of a strong neighborhood watch program. Grow the network and criminals may think twice before coming to town.

Benefits of knowing your neighbor No. 11 – Help during hard times

Whether you’ve lost your job and food is scarce or you’ve merely locked yourself out of the house, having a good neighbor can prove to be a great boon.


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