Most urban and suburban residents are familiar with the daily routine of waving to your neighbors or knocking their door to borrow a cup of sugar or milk. The same things can occur in a rural setting, but there are a few things to know before heading up to that first neighbor’s driveway and to being a respected neighbor yourself. If you have recently moved to the countryside, there are three key principles you need to consider before introducing yourself to a neighbor. Remember why you moved out there in the first place and for most people, peace, quiet and privacy are at the top of the list.
Crowded neighborhoods are a breeding ground for controversy and strife. Home Owners Associations rules pertaining to immaculate lawns and architecture can be applied with capricious intentions. Phone calls to police or other authorities for minor infractions are also not uncommon.
In a rural setting it is best to let your neighbors be themselves and not allow their tastes to infuriate you to the point of making a scene. “Live and let live” is a prized quality to find in a rural neighbor, so try to cultivate it within your own code of conduct.
Depending on the size of tracts in your immediate area, the effect of noise varies to differing degrees. Whatever the case may be, you don’t want to be known as the “noisy neighbor.”
There may be several acres between you and your nearest neighbor, but sound can and will travel. Remember that people working their homesteads often go to bed and wake up much earlier than their urban counterparts.
This is a good thing to reflect upon when performing noisy, but necessary operations on your land. Except in emergencies, the sound of loud tractors or chainsaws in the dead of night can mar your reputation. The golden rule here is to think about how you might react if your neighbor was about to do what you are doing.
Most urban and suburban inhabitants acclimate to lesser degrees of privacy. They get used to the fact that everyone around them is often too busy to know much about the person next door. In the country, people tend to want to know more about who they share a fence line with. During the initial move-in phase, new homesteaders may find it interesting to have an interested neighbor, but it is a good idea to start off slow. Many times rural neighbors may be looking for a good source of gossip or a reason not to trust the new family. Become well-acquainted with anyone you meet before “letting it all hang out.”
It is also best to get to know the people around you through public events and at shared fence lines before knocking on a neighbor’s door. A rural fence is not standing simply for the sake of keeping livestock secure. In many cases it is also there to prevent unwanted guests. If you are not on solid terms with a neighbor, a sure way to cause conflict is to unlatch their gate and walk up to the front door. Chances are though that you are likely to encounter the owner’s guard dog long before nearing the front porch.
Once you establish your homestead it is typically too late to change your mind so it is best to learn the ropes of being a good rural neighbor and practice sensible methods which will ensure the peace, quiet and privacy of your homestead and that of your neighbors. Always try to settle any dispute with honesty and with as much peace as possible. You are probably going to be neighbors for a long time and it is best to maintain a quality relationship that could earn dividends is assistance and favor in the future.