Photo by Antonov Roman/

15 ways to be a great cottage neighbour

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Cottages are great ways to build lifelong, generation-spanning friendships, and as you’ll surely find, the lake is exactly where extra friends come in handy. Here’s how to be a great cottage neighbour and form fast friendship.

1. Offer to watch your neighbour’s property when they’re away. A watchful eye, the odd round of lawnmowing and the willingness to get help if it’s needed will provide priceless peace of mind to your neighbours when they’re not around. (Plus, this kind of arrangement is often reciprocal.)

2. Keep the noise down. No one’s going to blame you for cutting your lawn, but they’ll be a lot nicer about it if your mower isn’t roaring at 7 a.m. If you’re going to have a party, let your neighbours know—then invite them along.

3. Be willing to share. Even the most well-prepared cottagers run out of things sometimes, and if your neighbours know they can count on you for a squirt of dish soap or a roll of paper towel, you’re making their lives a lot less stressful.

4. Be sociable. Invite your neighbours over for a barbecue or drinks on the deck.

5. Be honest. If you don’t feel like socializing, or you have guests and are working at capacity, be up-front about it. And don’t take it personally if your neighbours don’t want to get together with you all the time.

6. Help out. If your neighbour needs a hand with getting the dock in or pulling the boat out, help out—those kinds of cottage jobs are usually a lot easier (and quicker) with two people.

7. Keep your pets (and kids) supervised. Don’t let your dog use your neighbour’s lawn as a toilet, and don’t let your kids drive their ATV on their property.

8. Be courteous. Even if you’re irritated at the constant radio playing out on your neighbour’s deck, approach the problem with a smile and some suggestions for compromising (like four specified hours of radio silence each day).

9. Let your neighbours know about problem renters. If your neighbours rented their place to a group of rowdy students who threw beer bottles in the lake and ran the jet ski non-stop (right in front of your dock), let your neighbours know nicely. Chances are, they won’t want to risk property damage and won’t rent to that group again.

10. Put limits on an “open door” policy. You might think that having an open door policy with your neighbours in terms of borrowing food, tools, and supplies is a good idea, but often those kinds of arrangements end up in resentment. Be generous (see number 3) but don’t let the relationship get intrusive.

11. Stay aware. Don’t hog a narrow, shared waterway with a monster raft, and don’t drive your boat at top speed close to shore or the dock.

12. Keep your night lights low. Having a motion-activated light might be great for keeping raccoons away from the garbage cans (or not), but make sure you’re not blinding your neighbours all night. Keep light pollution to a safe minimum to make everyone’s evenings more enjoyable.

13. Stay safe. Obey fire rules and learn how to build a good fire that doesn’t smoke out the entire lake.

14. Don’t feed the animals. You may think squirrels and raccoons are adorable, but feeding them (or being careless about your garbage) could mean they become a nuisance for your neighbours.

15. Keep the water clean. If algae is a problem on your lake, make sure your septic system is well maintained, use low-phosphorous soaps, and don’t use fertilizer in your garden. Your efforts will make the lake more enjoyable for everyone.