New Potential Homeowner: What Neighbor Problems to Expect? Dogs, Fireworks, etc?

I’m considering buying my first home (when the market eventually corrects) and am concerned about potential problems with neighbors. One friend who owns a home in a bit of a poor part of town has fireworks going off in his neighbor’s backyard, keeping him up at night, sporadically. Another friend has problems with barking dogs. Reading posts on FWF 1.0 and FWF 2.0 reveal many other issues like school buses blocking your driveway and trees falling into your backyard.

How about non-noise related issues like cigarette smoke? If your neighbor chain smokes outside all day, it would make it impossible for me to be in the backyard or even open my windows for fresh air. Perhaps purchasing a few hundred dollars worth of high end industrial fans pointing back to my neighbors yard would solve the issue?

My question is: What neighbor-related problems are possible, what are common, how do you deal with them when they occur, how can you proactively prevent them from happening, and what strategies exist for purchasing a home to avoid such problems?

Also, as much as I despise HOAs, I wonder if living in an HOA mitigates some or all of these problems. Because in theory, if the neighbor is setting off fireworks, and a complaint is made to the HOA with documented evidence, then that neighbor will be fined to the point of losing his house if he doesn’t eventually stop. Same for barking dogs, I would imagine.

But maybe the person who’s setting off fireworks is the child of an HOA board member or the barking dog is owned by an HOA board member so nothing gets done?

I’ve long considered moving onto a 10 acre property in a rural area to avoid this since I imagine if I’m 1/4 mile away from my neighbors, then none of this stuff would bother me.

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Oh sure, buy a house before the market tanks in 2020. I remember on FW there was a guy who complained about the loud parties next door and so he showed up wearing a stab-proof vest and a gun. Then, there was a FW guy who complained that exhaust fumes from his neighbor’s cooking went directly into OP’s house. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For you, an island in the middle of nowhere sounds like the best option.

Here you go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McNeil_Island

If you want to .25 mile to your neighbor’s property, that’s .5 mile x .5 mile = .25 sq mile = 160 acres.

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I don’t share many of your concerns, but I have a suggestion. You could move to a rural area on 1-3 acres and be fine. If you are building the house, you could even build in a location that is best for noise concerns, etc.

Source: I am somewhat rural and on less than 2 acres. I have a neighbor fairly close. It never causes a problem. There is also a hunting lease nearby. That is 30+ acres so their shooting range sounds like firecrackers in the distance to me.

Go over there at night a few times on a mix of weeknights and weekends. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

Before you buy, of course.

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You’d go nuts at our house. From time to time, we have…

Roosters
Loud cars
Airbnb bros and hoes
Dogs
Noisy garbage pickup 2x weekly at night
Ad hoc parades and second lines
Gunshots
Nearby trains and riverboat whistles

People who own roosters in the city are dicks.

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He wins the dick award of the year. Had the city tow our car blocking his driveway :frowning:

Our neighborhood could be Fatwallet clickbait gold.

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We’re on 7 acres backing up to a town park. No problems with the neighbors.

We used to be the ones firing off mortors on July 4th, but not since we got the steer, he gets antsy.

/27 chickens
//2 roosters
///4 turkeys

I don’t like the sound of thunder either. :woman_shrugging:

It’s worth exploring the municipal code. I imagine many denser cities don’t allow roosters and may limit the type and number of birds and other animals you can have, how far they have to be from the property lines or other structures, etc. There are also noise regulations which may help with barking dogs and fireworks. Don’t know about smoke.

You can’t really predict these problems by staying there before purchasing, because they can appear years later, but it may give you some peace of mind.

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I haven’t complained of this part of the problem in forum. I did have neighbor would smoke with tons of smoke all day long and it would go inside my house as it was much closer to my house than their house. They would do so while it was unattended all day. Big smoker was backed up right near fence, and they stuck a wood board directly behind it and touching it.
Burned down the fence of course, broke my window and almost burned down my brick house (roof corner almost caught fire).

On the plus side, they seem to have stopped leaving it going unattended all day and I haven’t noticed smoke flooding the house either.

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You can always hunker down in your boarded up bedroom. :wink:

I can appreciate your apprehension. Who wants to spend 6+ figures on something that may make you miserable. My concentration is not the best in the world, so I can let everything under the sun bother me. From my experience, just admit you’re not going to find perfect neighbors. If you let it, something will bother you.

At our last house, my basement office was a walkout with tons of windows. This was something I wanted, sought out, and eventually made a requirement in our house hunting. Once we moved in, my neighbor’s kids were so loud that I was tempted to move my office to the media room. I eventually got used to it, or worked around their schedule. Although my current neighbors are generally fine, I would give anything to have that family as my neighbor in our current home.

As for HOAs, they’re probably not the solution. Finding the Goldilocks of HOAs is much harder than finding decent neighbors. There is a fine line between an active, responsive, responsible HOA and a nazi HOA. The former will send you a notice when your mailbox numbers are faded, your lawn is too weedy, or your hot tub rendezvouses are getting loud. The latter will send letters threatening fines when your lawn edging is too shallow / too deep, you planted a tree in your back yard without getting their permission, or your new roof shingles are the same color as your neighbors and they should be different.

Moving to ten acres won’t solve your concern. You won’t hear your neighbors pop the top on their beer can, smell their smokables or even hear them cuss at their kids, but there are other issues to deal with in rural settings. Just a few of examples:

  1. If you don’t like fireworks, plan to take vacation during deer, turkey, quail, boar, etc. seasons.
  2. If you don’t like the smell of burning wood, plan to hibernate during the (usually) spring brush burning season. This can last for several days, and your neighbors won’t coordinate to do it all on the same days. :smile:
  3. If you live on a lake, sound travels over water much further and clearer than land.
  4. If your neighbor is a farm, don’t be alarmed during fertilizing or stalk burning seasons.

I agree with @TravelerMSY that if you’re keen on a property, make several visits at various times of the day and various days of the week. If it is a “starter” neighborhood, maybe spend an hour late on the first Friday of the month. At each of our home purchases, probably because I’m paranoid, we met the neighbors before putting in an offer. This actually saved us from buying one property with problems. We also made two morning and afternoon visits so that we could time the commutes, as they were on the edge of our limit.

Enough rambling … my glass is empty. Good luck, and if you get lousy neighbors, just buy 'em out. :slight_smile:

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Yeah, this sounds familiar. Whatever happened with the insurance and repairs?

Smart! You don’t want anything to inhibit the fattening process. :smile:

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Some of this is just luck. Even if your neighbors are quiet, someone new could move in who likes to make a ruckus.

Look for rich (but not too rich) middle-aged neighbors. They are most likely to not be loud.

Obviously, the more space between you & your neighbors the better.

Agree with others about making a few visits on days, nights & weekends.

My neighborhood is super quiet on nights & weekends, but during the day, during the week in summer time, the noise from professional landscapers’ leaf blowers is significant.

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Not sure how or why one would justify this.

Tangentially related pro tip is Charter will tell you if someone is on food stamps through the service availability check. Don’t ask me how I know, found out by accident. Unfortunately would have been helpful to have known a few weeks earlier.

No single metric of any person or family (i.e., any neighbor) is solely determinative as to outcome of living nearby to that person, or family. Instead, it’s a mosaic. And even with a completely populated mosaic, there is no sure thing. Stuff can go wrong.

With the above caveat, should you decide to try regardless to improve your odds, you could consider:

*pulling a credit report on prospective neighbors. Freedom from financial pressures does NOT guarantee stability or tranquility . . . but it might help.

*determine to best of your ability the number of people living in homes adjacent. Living next to a retired couple might provide a quieter outcome than living adjacent to a house full of very active,exuberant teenagers.

Finally I agree land ownership, under some circumstances, can help address your concerns. I manage with a small spread of a bit less than 100 acres. But I still have close (several hundred feet away) neighbors to my southeast. They are good folks . . luckily for me. Should I have bought more land? You betcha!! But in life we do not always get everything right. And there is some solace in knowing that in all other directions the situation, regarding unruly neighbors, is under control.

ETA

BTW barking dogs do not have to remain a problem, provided they are sufficiently nearby. You can rig up an ultrasonic emitter, pointed in direction of the offending canine, and triggered by his barking. The dog’s owner will never know you are providing much needed discipline to his mutt.

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Move into a reitement age community. They’ll align with your views.

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