Is There Such A Thing As Neighbor Etiquette?

It’s probably the lack of sleep I got last night — thanks to a hungry and wide-awake baby — but I got up today and resolved to do something about the “neighbor situation.”

Let me give you a little background: We’ve been living in our home almost 2 years now, and for all of that time, the neighbors to our left continually park their cars in front of our house. Now that I’ve been home these past 2 1/2 months, I see that this happens all day and, sometimes, all night. The wife’s car will be in front of our house all day, from early morning on, unless she goes out, and the husband comes home and parks in front of our house until he moves it into their driveway for the evening (you can’t park your cars overnight on the streets in our town). No neighbor etiquette going on here!

The second thing that drives me nuts is that they put their garbage and recycling out in front of our house, too. Well, it’s not smack-dab in front of it — technically, it’s on the property line in front of our two houses. The bins almost always wind up in the middle of our property after they’ve been emptied, making it look like we’re what we Italians slangily call “cavones” — pigs. Both of our fathers have even attempted to bring in “our” garbage can when they’ve been visiting. And the recycling isn’t always just cans, bottles and papers — the husband is a mechanic, and there’s always boxes from motor oil and the like.

Granted, since I’ve been home with Baby Frugalista, they’ve been ‘nice’ enough to only take up ONE spot in front of our house, instead of BOTH. But what my newshound nose needs to sniff out is the WHY of the situation.

WHY don’t they put their “stuff” in front of their own property? They’re obviously long-ingrained actions. I suppose the old man who owned our home before us didn’t really care. It’s what I’m going to call a lack of “neighbor etiquette.” It doesn’t make sense to me, and the fact that no one else on our block does it makes me even more worked up about it.

Two courses of action

1. Say something to the neighbors, either directly or by leaving a note on the car; or

2. Move my car from our driveway to the front of our house each morning, taking up the two spots, until they get the message.

My spiteful side says move the car every morning, a pretty (and petty) passive-aggressive tactic. It also takes effort and I’m not confident that they would even get the picture.

Saying something would make ME feel better, but could also cause a rift with neighbors who we have to live with for possibly decades to come. We don’t even have a fence or a hedge separating our backyards, so it could be awkward.

Of course, Mr. NSF will say there’s a third option: Don’t say anything at all. But that’s not my nature. If there’s a problem, I want to confront it head-on, not ignore it. I can be diplomatic and ‘blame’ myself about it — either admit that it’s an OCD thing or say I need to park my own car there so I can get the baby in and out more easily (both true!).

Then again, what do I care about a neighbor who, in one of our first interactions, saw me using a soil rake on our front lawn and said, “Hey, look, there’s a new hoe on the block?”

What would you do? Do you have any interesting ‘neighbor etiquette’ issues?

14 comments to Is There Such A Thing As Neighbor Etiquette?

  • Oh, man, my husband feels exactly the same way. The people who live two houses down ALWAYS park in front of our house. There are perfectly good spots available in front of their own house and IN THEIR DRIVEWAY.

    So, you’re not alone. He gets mad about this everyday, because it’s been happening for almost a year.

  • Liz Greeley

    When I still lived at home, many of the houses on the street were two-family and could only park on the street. With of household of 5 cars, so did our family too. It bugged me that this one, single family home, would only park their cars on the street and not in their PERFECTLY GOOD EMPTY DRIVEWAY!!!! I got so mad, I called the police for advice. They told me nothing could be done…it’s their right to park where they want as long as it obeys rules.

    In your case, you may want to say nothing. Why? Because if their first statement to you was “there’s a new hoe on the block,” then you know what saying something will result in. Or just take the baby route.

    • Penny

      @Liz: Hubby thought the neighbor was just trying to be funny with that comment. It’s obviously not funny. He’s an odd duck. I know how parking is in most of your town, so that would drive me crazy, too. In my town, especially on my block, there are almost NEVER any cars parked on the street. The driveways are wide enough to park two cars next to each other in most cases (not ours, of course, LOL), so the neighbors could easily be their driveway.

      Of course, after I wrote this, wife went out and then parked in her driveway when she came back.

  • Jade

    I might have missed it — but have you actually tried talking to them about it? Don’t be passive aggressive with notes on cars, that only irritates people. Knock on their door some afternoon, explain the problem politely, and see if that helps. They might just not be aware it’s a problem for you.

    • Jade

      I see I did miss the last sentence, apologies. I still think you should try talking — even if it won’t succeed. You’ll be the bigger person.

      • Penny

        @Jade: The adult side of me does agree with the face-to-face approach. 😉 And I know that would be the right thing to do, if I even say anything at all.

  • Cia

    face-to-face. Tell them that you have friends who visit and have to park down the block and walk. Say you wanted to be neighborly and check with them before having your friends park in the unoccupied spaces in front of their house.

  • Knowing how sensitive some people are, I wouldn’t say anything, just occupy all the spots in front of your home, it’s well within your right to do so.

  • This sounds familiar. We had neighbors who did the same thing. It wasn’t one family though but a group who had rented the home. We tried talking to one of them which wasn’t really successful. Then we just started parking our car out in the street in front of our house so they couldn’t get there. Took a while but they finally got the message – it was so irritating though! Hope you get your situation fixed.

  • Totally fine to ask them in person, but they may still take offense. I would bring up the baby issue – there have been research studies that simply explaining the “because” behind your request, no matter how logical/illogical the because it, people are more likely to acquiese. Of course, the baby thing is perfectly logical.

    I wouldn’t ask them if your friends can park in front of THEIR house, since they’ll probably just say “sure” for a one-time thing, and then feel that since they let you park in front of their house once, you won’t mind it when they do every day.

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  • Samantha

    So I have to ask. Did you ever resolve your problem? I was feeling so alone on this issue until doing a search and realizing its a VERY common problem. With us though, the matter is even more mind boggling. We live one house from the corner. The corner lot is HUGE. These people have a double wide drive and park their vehicles in it. The issue is there array of different house ‘guests’. First it was this big old ugly dually truck, then it was a commercial laundry truck (illegal on our roads which was resolved by a call to police) and now its a beat up old astro van. I am at witt’s end, that’s for sure. Have tried parking in front of house so they have to pull up. Only worked when we parked there. Eventually that squatter guest moved on, but then we get another ignorant one. Really thinking of saying something. People can be so inconsiderate.

    • Nicole

      Samantha: I wound up asking the neighbor to try not to park in front of our house so we could better juggle our cars to observe the nightly off-street parking rule, and to get our child in/out of the car more easily (our driveway is short, narrow and has retaining walls). They’ve actually been much more considerate.

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