Student Life Column

Being a good neighbor: steps to take while living off campus

“When strangers start acting like neighbors … communities are reinvigorated.” —Ralph Nader

Living off campus is no easy task. You have to get back and forth to campus, cook your own meals, pay bills, and on a rare occasion actually clean the place that you are living in. In addition, you also have to contend with neighbors. The neighbors who you are coming into contact with may be quite different from those that you’ve known up to this point in your life, especially the more recent ones that you had when you lived in the residence halls on campus. Your new neighbors off-campus may be older and retired, or they may have a young family. As a result, it is important you get to know your neighbors and come to a mutual level of respect for one another.

So, what does it mean to be a good neighbor? This is a question that I often ask students that I happen to be meeting with. I always let the students know that you don’t have to be your neighbor’s “best friend forever.” You also don’t have to bake them cookies. (Although this can’t hurt. It works well for my two kids, so why not for the elderly couple living next door? ) What you do need to do, though, is show your neighbors respect, and in turn they will do the same to you. Here are a few suggestions for how to improve your relationship with your neighbors:

1. Get to know them: I know, that’s the point of this article, but it’s true. Introduce yourself to them. Get to know them by their first names. You will be amazed at how far this will go. It’ll make it much easier to resolve any problems that might pop up later (and trust me, they will pop up).

2. Keep the noise down! Now, I’m not saying you have to behave as if you are living in a monastery. Just remember that just as you don’t want your neighbor mowing their lawn at 6 am, or their kids screaming their heads off at the crack of dawn on any given Saturday, they don’t want to hear LMFAO blasting from your stereo at 2 am.

3. Keep your property looking nice: Even though you don’t actually own the property, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it looking presentable. Make sure to follow trash, bulk pick up, and recycling laws. Just to let you know, in Troy that means: Beman Park—Monday, Pawling Ave.—Wednesday, and Tibbits Road area—Thursday. You need to make sure that you retrieve your trash cans by 7 pm on the day of pick up.

4. Maintain your apartment: Try to keep your residence (inside and out!) in good condition. This will make living conditions better for you and your neighbors, and you can avoid potential charges for damages when you move out. During the winter (not that we’ve actually had one this year) make sure to keep your porch and sidewalk clear of snow. Make sure to check your lease and talk to your landlord to understand who is responsible for shoveling snow, and also making repairs. You don’t want to be responsible for paying a town fine if your lease indicates that your landlord is responsible for snow removal and it hasn’t been done.

5. Park legally: Only park where it is legal for you to park. It is illegal in Troy (and pretty much anywhere else for that matter) to park on the sidewalk. Code Enforcement has cracked down on people doing this, and tickets have been issued.

6. Shop locally: Instead of heading out to a mall or a big box store, go downtown to buy things. For one thing, it is always good to support local businesses. In addition, many people who own businesses in Troy also live in the city too!

That’s about it. If you take a few simple steps and become a good neighbor, you will be amazed at how much better of an experience you will have while living off campus. Good luck, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me at: (518) 276-6282, or e-mail: dreshc@rpi.edu.

Leave a Reply