Neighbours can be one of the best parts of cottage living—casual glasses of wine on the deck, an extra pair of hands getting the dock in, and the option to borrow their belt sander in exchange for your gardening expertise. If this sounds like your relationship with your neighbours, awesome. For some of us, though, neighbours can be…well, annoying.
Here are seven common habits that may drive you nuts, and suggestions on how to deal with them without starting a lakeside war.
Hey—parties at the cottage are a fact of life, and it’s best just to grin and bear it if your neighbours want to throw the occasional get-together with loud music. More annoying are the neighbours who need to have an audible soundtrack for every single activity, from sitting on the deck to swimming at the beach. These folks don’t always realize that not everyone enjoys Hall and Oates’ greatest hits on repeat, so go ahead and (nicely) let them know that you’d appreciate it if they turned the volume down and their speakers away from your property. Or see if you can negotiate quiet times—no outside music between 4 and 7 p.m., for example.
Tinkly, dinkly wind
Some people love the Zen-like appeal of wind chimes—and others really, really don’t. If your neighbours have a set that drives you bananas, suggest they move them to the side of their house furthest from yours. Alternately, give them a set made of wood or shells, which aren’t as resonant as metal.
Happy, laughing, playing kids are one thing. Screeching, screaming, roaring monsters are quite another. Approach this problem with an open mind‚ your neighbours aren’t trying to deafen you: they’ve just become immune to how loud (and potentially annoying) their kids can be. See if you can work something out—maybe the kids try and keep the noise level down before 10 a.m., or they find a place to play that’s further away from your place.
The neighbours who always ask to borrow your stuff and never do anything in return aren’t terrible people, they’re just thoughtless. Feel free to say no to their requests with a smile—if you need an excuse, you can always say that you’re trying to limit wear and tear on your equipment, or that it’s a little finicky and you’d rather not risk it breaking down. If they’re using your property without asking—a beach, for example, or a floating raft—let them know that, for safety reasons, you’d rather people not use your space unless you’re there to supervise.
Lack of boundaries
Friendly neighbours are wonderful. Friendly neighbours who show up unannounced, stay for hours and monopolize conversations with your guests are irritating. This is a delicate situation, since you want to maintain that friendliness—and keep in mind that dropping in is pretty much a way of life in cottage country. However, if you’re finding yourself irked more often than not, invite your over-friendly neighbours over and just talk honestly with them, face-to-face. Or start extending specific invitations for get-togethers that have a clear start and end, and see if that pattern starts to take hold. If that doesn’t work, well, you could always start to answer the door naked.
Putting trash out at night
Are your neighbours hosting a buffet for wildlife because they put their trash outside? A face-to-face talk is probably best, letting them know that bear encounters aren’t good for anyone. Suggest that they keep food garbage in the shed or the freezer until garbage day rolls around or they have time to go to the dump. Sometimes, a neighbourhood meeting can be a good way to prod someone into action. Without targeting your neighbour specifically, host an informational talk by a local expert who can tell everyone how best to deal with trash.
Different people have different definitions of “early” and “loud.” If your neighbour enjoys mowing the lawn at 7 a.m.—which makes sense if he’s trying to beat the heat of the day—see if he’d consider waiting until slightly later to fire up the old John Deere. Again, negotiation is key—maybe he agrees to limit his mowing and other loud activities to one early morning a week, and you invest in a pair of earplugs for that day. There should be a reasonable common ground you can both find. (You can also check your local bylaws, although many allow for the operation of power equipment between a fairly wide time range, like 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
What are your tips for dealing with annoying neighbours?