No Fence

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

The house next-door has been a rental for decades. It has finally been
sold to a couple, and as they were moving in and talking abut what
they planned to do to the house and garden I realized that I’m not
used to having a relationship with neighbors that’s based on equality.
With the tenants, I always had some degree of authority, because I
was friendly with the person who owned the property, and acted as
sort of a watchdog to be sure the renters didn’t do anything stupid. So
the tenants were somewhat deferential, and I could be nice in ways it
was easy to be, like giving them a quart of soup every so often, and
never had to worry about them doing things that were seriously
disruptive to my life. The new folks seem okay, if a little chatty, and
interested in gardening the median strip together, which sounds great.
How else do I get things off on the right foot?

No Fence

Dear No Fence:

The strongest message to ensure your privacy would be to build a
fence. But I don’t think that’s what you really want and ironically I
don’t think that it sends the message you want to give the new
owners. I would give them time to settle in, and make the house their
home. Bringing them soup or perhaps your extra zucchini and
tomatoes would be a welcome gesture of friendship.

Decades implies you’ve lived in your house, and developed it nicely, in
a way that might intimidate new owners. Don’t rush to invite them
over in the flurry of excess friendship. Write them a lovely note of
welcome, and let them settle in quietly without a lot of fuss. Then
when the time is right, agree on the boundaries that work for you both
regarding noise, shared phone numbers and/or keys, and so on, and
then make plans for the garden next spring, when you feel like
comfortable equals. Personally I’d hold back on the keys until you
know them better. Good neighbors are a wonderful thing. Take your
time making it happen.