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How to be a good homestead neighbor to avoid conflict is an art worthy of mastery. Especially as homesteading is a rising and desired lifestyle, many of us are looking to connect with our neighbors. The way we go about forming these relationships is best through thoughtfulness.
A good neighbor upholds the type of relationship each neighbor wants from them. Living in a community that thrives is not all about you but everyone who is part of the neighborhood.
Keep in mind that getting along with others is a two-way street. The way others react is out of your control. The steps below are sure ways to protect yourself from negative neighborly responses.
Introduce Yourself to the Neighbors Earlier On
Maybe you’re moving, they just moved in, or you are starting to get the urge to connect with pre-existing neighbors. Let’s talk about them all.
If you haven’t already moved, consider talking to the neighbors and asking questions about the area before making the big decision.
For example, if you are moving to a place with the intent to get guinea fowl, this is the best opportunity to scope out the type of people you might be living next to. The last thing you want to do is disrupt a peaceful neighborhood that has prided itself on its three decades of peace and serenity.
Proactive scoping is your best opportunity to choose the right place with the right people for the lifestyle you want. Homesteads these days come in all shapes and sizes from urban to rural settings.
It’s in everyone’s interest to find an appropriate social dynamic when possible. Just remember that nothing is perfect.
If new neighbors just moved in, introduce and welcome them to the kind of relationship you’d like to have. Set your own stage with what you can offer, then gather a sense of what they might be looking for. Be mindful that they might feel differently than you. Honor their privacy if they don’t seem overly interactive.
If you’ve had neighbors for a while and your interest to connect is new, don’t be shy. If you are feeling it, there are likely others who do too.
Related post: How to build trust with your neighbors
Be Upfront About Your Homesteading Intentions
There are a few ways we could describe typical types of homestead neighbors. Which one are you?
Common homestead neighbor dynamics have little to no relationship at all. Many people these days want to move out to the middle of nowhere and not be bothered by anyone. They are pursuing a complete life of “self-sufficiency” and don’t want anyone near them or in their business.
If this is the kind of neighbor you want to be, maybe you’d rather not introduce yourself to the vicinity. The least you could do is offer your name and number and keep things on an as-needed basis for emergencies.
If you’ve gone out to introduce yourself and find one of these types of neighbors, don’t take offense to their preferences. Respect their boundaries. Often giving people the space they desire today is what opens doors for tomorrow.
Most commonly, neighbors are neutral toward each other. The intentions of neutrality with their neighbors are primarily to avoid conflict by keeping to their own boundaries and being actionably considerate. The effort put forth to do this is because, at a bare minimum, they expect this trait from you.
These kinds of neighbors are happy to give and receive friendly acknowledgments. While they might not have super collaborative intentions, looking out for each other in general is a given. Your contact information would be great for emergency purposes too.
Then there are a handful of odd neighbors who seek exchange and want to be supportive or social. Some of these relationships are more about getting along socially, while others are more about getting along practically. Many are both! It depends on the commonalities and differences you share.
These are the kinds of homestead neighbors that might be growing too many vegetables and finding uncountable chicken eggs in the coupe, while you’re over there bee-keeping, tapping maple trees, and feeding horses.
Be Considerate and Respectful to Everyone
Part of being a good neighbor is mindfulness of what others need from you. Understanding that it isn’t all about you is an essential community characteristic.
It’s imperative to understand what kind of neighbor our neighbors are looking for, especially if you are new to the area. You could offer anything, but if no one wants it, your efforts have no purpose. Others’ needs are at the forefront of purpose, consideration, and respect.
Before taking actions that can affect the people around you, take a moment to consider the significance of the possible effects. Examples could be the noise you make, animals you adopt, chemicals you introduce, or natural materials you import.
If you ask to take a walk in your neighbor’s woodland area to go foraging, don’t assume you can do it again anytime. Unless they clearly tell you to go anytime you want, that’s different. But if they haven’t and you do so without permission, they will confront you about it, or they won’t say anything to avoid a conflict. Not saying anything can be worse if they begin to bottle up resentment.
Always ask and continue to communicate. Change is a constant!
Listen to Your Neighbors by Seeking Understanding
Do you often feel misunderstood by most people?
In many cases, people can misunderstand each other throughout an entire conversation. It can happen when both people aren’t listening to one another.
Maybe they think they are listening when really they’re listening only to what they want to hear. we all make this mistake from time to time. To be better neighbors we can acknowledge this within ourselves and learn to listen and seek the intent of the speaker.
One person listening in a conversation is a whole lot more productive than neither.
By listening to others, you are more likely to be heard. They’ve had their turn to exhaust their ideas which means they won’t be preoccupied with them in the back of their heads while you are talking.
Make it clear you sincerely understand the point they are making to leave your neighbor receptive to your ideas.
If a misunderstanding occurs with your fellow homesteaders, always assume positive intent. You can always directly ask about any confusion next time.
Stay Open to New Ideas and Grow With Each Other
A relationship is not static they either grow or die!
Staying open to new ideas not only means listening and receiving what your neighbors have to say, but admitting when you don’t know something.
Saying “I know” as a response is the worst habit we all have, I’ll admit!
Admitting you don’t know something is powerful. Not knowing is the ultimate way to learn. If you don’t learn you don’t grow.
So how about we say “I don’t know” instead!? The power of that phrase offers more discussion from others which facilitates even more learning about each other and the subject at hand.
Your neighbors will feel appreciated and recognized too. It creates a feeling that it’s okay not to know something themselves, and feel safe about learning from you next time. Everyone’s guards go down!
Adapt to the Constructs of the Community
As a homesteader, how can you be helpful to other homesteads? The first rule of permaculture is to observe our surroundings.
If an established regenerative food forest exists in your neighbor’s backyard, the last they want from a neighbor is a glyphosate-treated lawn and garden next door.
Fitting into any community does not mean being the same. Fitting in means, what difference can I make to support the current setup?
If they have a fruit-producing food forest, maybe they could benefit from the homesteader who can supply endless woodchips if you’ve got the woodlot. Trade wood for fruit tree cuttings to expand the food abundance as you make physical space for new growth.
If you plan to burn your wood or any other material you’ll want to consider not only a safe space to start a fire but the direction the wind might blow smoke at.
The opportunities to cooperate and collaborate are likely there. Carefully look, listen, and learn to find them!
Find Commonalities and Complementary Differences
You are likely to have both similarities and differences between homestead neighbors. It’s not mandatory to have any similarities, but everyone will be different.
Differences are a great thing. It’s how life works!
If everything were the same, what would it be?
The more similarities you share with your neighbor, the more you are likely to socialize with them and become friends for leisure. You can also work on projects of the same nature together and help each other accomplish eaches own.
Without similarities, you are less likely to be socially connected. Which is okay too! There is plenty of room for practical exchanges for strength and survival.
A good homestead neighbor acknowledges the distinction and usefulness of both.
To find these elements, keep the dialogue open and regular with your fellow homesteaders. Inform them about upcoming projects you plan to do and you might find some volunteers ready to help you do it.
Sharing your plans is an inclusive way to get the wheels turning in your neighbor’s heads about how they can help, contribute, support, or collaborate.
Offer a Hand and Ask Other Homesteaders for Help
Part of what drives people to become homesteaders in the first place is to become more self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency does not mean becoming an island on your own.
Offering a hand and asking for help is the foundation of self-sufficiency away from the complex world. If you are striving for a simplified life, a localized community is likely what you’re after.
Be careful not to be used or overstep with asking too many favors for free. If someone starts feeling over-used without return, contributions and team efforts will discontinue. Exchanging value is important to keep contributions feeling fair for everyone.
Be Generous Especially Where There is Abundance
If you are into homesteading for the purpose of having control over a high-quality life, it’s in your best interest to improve the quality of life of your neighbors.
It’s like giving compost or manure to your garden. Now the means to return the favor with greater abundance is available. If you don’t feed your soil, the growth of abundance and wealth will slow down and create an environment that grows plants you don’t desire to eat.
People tend to reciprocate good practices when they feel uplifted by the effects of it.
Communication and collaboration are ultimately key
Above all, avoid taking things personally for your own mental well-being. If you feel unsure, communicate how you feel in a non-confronting way. Being vulnerable rather than accusatory more often renders an open and understanding response from others.
Related post: Best tips for building a tight homestead community
This article was originally published on foodforestliving.com. If it is now published on any other site, it was done without permission from the copyright owner.
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