Neighbors: 13 Subtle Ways to Set and Establish Boundaries

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco


Having neighbors that don’t have any concept of boundaries can be hard. It’s nice to be liked and to know that the neighbors and their kids want to spend time with you (and the family), but sometimes you need to set boundaries in place to protect your own space and family time. Creating boundaries with your neighbors is essential if you want to be completely comfortable and happy in your space at home. A happy and comfortable space requires a little bit of effort. You have to create and implement boundaries.

Dealing with neighbors can be tricky, especially if they don’t seem to understand what boundaries are. If you feel that your neighbors are encroaching on your personal space, simply take the time to think about ways to rectify the problem. You really need to put in the effort to create firm boundaries without coming across as being offish or unkind. You want your neighbors to like you while understanding that there’s a “line”.  

Setting boundaries with the neighbors is reasonably simple. In fact, millions of people have managed to get it right and currently enjoy healthy and enjoyable relations with their neighbors. Just remember to be polite while doing so, and you should have great success. While these methods might not work for everyone, many of them will work for you. Below is a look at several ways to subtly set boundaries with the people next door.

Setting boundaries with the neighbors – 13 subtle ways:

1. Learn to say “not today” to neighborhood kids.

When the neighbor’s kids take a liking to you or your kids, it can become somewhat of a nightmare. While it’s probably not as bad as it feels, you might find that you start to feel overwhelmed by always having other people in the house. At first, you might think it is something that will happen every once in a while and that it is absolutely harmless, but if it becomes a regular thing, you need to learn to say “not today”. 

Letting the neighbor’s kids know that they cannot just come over anytime they want uninvited is a good way to set privacy and personal space boundaries. Let the neighbor’s kids know that they can visit when they are invited and that if they want to come over at other times, it is best to ask you first instead of just arriving unannounced. 

2. Turn down some invitations.

If the neighbors invite you to their events and gatherings, you might want to attend to get to know them better, but be careful not to be too available. If you start attending every barbecue and celebration that they have, you might find that they expect to attend all of yours too. Familiarity can breed contempt in the end. If the neighbors regularly invite you over, say no to a few of those invitations. 

3. Don’t invite them over too often.

If you want the neighbors to understand good boundaries, ensure that you don’t send mixed signals. Inviting the neighbors over on a regular basis will give them the idea that you want to be closer than “just neighbors”. They might get the impression that you are trying to be close friends. If you want to deliver the message that healthy boundaries are important to you, don’t get too cushy with them.

4. Use straight talk. 

People of all varieties really appreciate and respect straight talk, if it’s done right. And it can send the right signal if you want to create a boundary. If you don’t appreciate something the neighbor says or does, don’t beat around the bush. When the topic comes up, be straightforward about the way you feel. Of course, be firm but polite about it. 

5. Be polite but not over-friendly.

Being polite and friendly is one thing. Being overly friendly is quite another and can send the wrong message. If you are over-friendly, the neighbors might think it is an invitation to get closer to you and cross those healthy neighbor relationship boundaries. Make sure that you’re friendly to a point.

6. Don’t gossip. 

If you fall into the trap of gossiping with the neighbors about other neighbors, you are officially crossing a line and leaving the interpretation of boundaries open. If you want to keep things above board and secure boundaries with your neighbor, keep the conversation lighthearted and to a minimum. 

7. Be upfront about parties/festivities planned.


If you want your neighbors to be polite and considerate towards you, you need to do the same. Make sure that you let them know if you plan to have a party or festive occasion at your house. Let them know that there will be noise and if you promise to quieten things down by a certain time, stick to your word. If you do this, the neighbors will be obliged to do the same. You will have created a healthy boundary. 

8. Lead by example.

If you want your neighbors to fit in with your healthy boundaries, make sure that you follow your own rules. If you don’t want interfering neighbors, don’t be one yourself. If you don’t appreciate noisy neighbors that party all night, make sure you don’t expose them to that behavior. Keep as much distance from them as you would appreciate in return. Simply leading a good example will let your neighbors know what the boundaries are, and they will be keen to fit in with them. 

9. Create privacy for your space.

You don’t want to be in your neighbor’s face, and you don’t want them to think that you don’t value your privacy, so show them just how important it is to you by creating privacy for your space. If you share a boundary wall, make sure that it’s private and secure. If it’s a fence, consider growing a creeper or installing a privacy trellis. Draw your curtains in the evenings and don’t stand outside talking loudly about your personal problems on your phone. If you keep your life private, the neighbors will know that you value that. 

10. Make an excuse when it comes to borrowing things; if you have to.

One boundary that many neighbors cross without even thinking about it is the habit of borrowing things. If your neighbors keep coming over to ask if they can borrow your tools or equipment, start to make it slightly more difficult for them. If you have to, make an excuse that someone else is using your items or that they are not working at the moment. The more you do this, the less appealing it will be to ask you in the future. 

11. Speak up about things that upset or irritate you.

If your neighbor behaves in a way that upsets or irritates you, avoid being the type of person that grins and bears it. Take the time to chat to your neighbor in a respectful manner about the issue. Don’t go in with guns blazing but make sure that you are honest about the way that you feel. 

12. Reciprocate kindness with kindness.

If your neighbor does something kind for you, make sure that you are prepared to do the same in the future. For instance, if your neighbor drops everything to help you move the recycling bin or signs for a package for you when you are not home, thank them genuinely and do something equally nice for them. A box of chocolates or a thank-you note will suffice. 

Man coming to help a woman-neighbor

13. Say “no thank-you” when they interfere. 

If the neighbors interfere with you and you don’t enjoy it, use a firm “no thank-you” when they offer their advice. Make sure that the message is received loud and clear, leaving no room for a repeat of the same behavior. Again, a respectful yet firm reaction is the best. 

All in all

Dealing with the neighbors doesn’t have to be complicated. You simply have to know what your boundaries are and implement them from early on. If you would like to create healthy boundaries between you and your neighbors, consider the above-pointers and set them into action. Soon your relationship with the neighbors will change for the better.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.