Our move out to the suburbs is a big change – the daily routine includes left turn arrows, sprawling parking lots, and winding streets that end in cul-de-sacs, just feet from the main road. Cursing myself for not using Waze to get to the grocery store, I wonder why the streets don’t go through, and which one does?! I may never get out of the maze.
The etiquette of living in the suburbs is quite different from in the city. Here are six tips to help you make a smooth transition:
1 – Don’t let your early rising children go outside and play at 7am. Though you may be sleep deprived, many people sleep until 9am on the weekends. They loathe neighbors who disturb their precious 10th hour of sleep. I learned the first morning my two-year old went outside to play with his popping mower. The toy makes a great loud noise, mimicking a real lawn mower. I could hear the swearing and windows slamming instantly. Welcome to the neighborhood!
2 – Beware of bored children. We have a neighbor whose kid used landscaping rocks as baseballs. He slugged them over the fence and into the street with his new bat, causing dents on cars and near misses of passer-byers before someone rang the bell and told his parents. I must confess, I didn’t want to be the neighbor who told on him, but it had to be done.
3 – Don’t park your car in front of your neighbors’ house. Suburbia means watching out for each other and also claiming your part of the street. Neighbors believe the street in front of their house belongs to them. If you are going to park there or have a party, you’d better leave a note or bring them some cake with an explanation. When my parents came to visit, a neighbor told me, “That’s where I park MY car, so don’t let your parents take my spot.” Also beware of parking across from their driveways. They aren’t used to looking for cars and can back right into your side doors. That’s a fun day.
4 – Don’t let your grill smoke waft into your neighbors’ open windows. If you are excited about your charcoal grill, be sure the wind is blowing toward your own house. I heard a neighbor angrily telling someone to turn off their BBQ, because the smoke was stinking up their house. Someone should warn the HOA; the houses are too close together.
5 – Know where your property line ends, and make sure you mow right up to it. A neighbor complained to me that the renter’s next door didn’t understand how to mow their lawn. They were a foot off the end of the property line, and she wasn’t about to mow the difference. She couldn’t wait to show them the mistake. So much for friendly neighbors.
6 – If you are renting, don’t tell anyone. Avoid the topic altogether. Homeowners treat renters as second-class citizens and argue at HOA meetings that renters should not be allowed at the neighborhood pool, the community movie nights, or the annual block party. It doesn’t make any sense. Keep it to yourself and soak in the benefits suburbia has to offer!