9 Tips for How to be a Good Neighbor in the Country

Here’s a guide to getting along with country folk and enjoying rural community life.


| January 2013



Creating the Low-Budget Homestead

There are hundreds of things to think about before planning and starting your new life, and “Creating the Low-Budget Homestead” will save you valuable time and money by steering you down productive paths and making you carefully consider others.

Cover Courtesy Paladin Press

Living in the country has its own set of blessings and trials. If you've ever thought about pursuing a self-sufficient lifestyle on your own rural homestead or survival retreat but feared you didn't have the money or skills to do it, Steven D. Gregersen offers advice for it all in Creating the Low-Budget Homestead. But there are many things to consider before taking the plunge into the lifestyle, including how you’ll relate to your neighbors. In this excerpt, Gregersen offers tips for “getting along with country folk” and adding harmony to your homestead by becoming a part of the rural community.   

You can buy this book in the GRIT store: Creating the Low-Budget Homestead.

More from Creating the Low-Budget Homestead:

How to Start Your Own Farm or Homestead: Setting Priorities

I heard the ruckus outside and knew what was going on. The neighbor’s dog was on the porch again and fighting with my dog over her food. Grabbing a shotgun as I walked through the door, I stepped off the porch and fired a shot into the air. The neighbor’s dog was already running for home but kicked it into overdrive at the sound of the shot. Two days later, the neighbors, who had been renting, packed up their dogs and belongings and moved away. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. For weeks we’d put up with their dogs roaming our property, chasing deer, stealing our dog’s food, and fighting with our dog. Enough was enough!

Lest you think I’m just short-tempered, my wife and I had both asked politely well over a dozen times that they keep their dogs off our place. Each time they apologized and said they would. The final straw came when they told us to come up with a solution for their three-year-old daughter getting up early and letting the dogs out of the house without their knowledge. Our response was that that wasn’t our problem.

The dog was theirs, and it was their responsibility to keep it from being a nuisance. A week later the incident cited in the paragraph above occurred.

steven gregersen
1/29/2013 7:14:53 AM

"...Country people can be awful stubborn and that's a good trait, but from personal back-home experience when it comes to religion and politics, not being open-minded is a trait that some country folk could work on. It's also common sense and consideration if someone is of a different religion, race, citizenship or political opinion comes to live near you, that we not block them out as foreign, and hate them outright. Open-mindedness­, warmth and and an open hand of friendship goes a long way toward neighbors living together in a wonderful peace and community that living in the country brings. ... " I've pulled these comments out of what you've written because they illustrate some points. First, close mindedness is not a trait limited to "country folk." Second, if a person moves to a new neighborhood and starts right off trying to "reform" the people around him, his acceptance level is going to plummet. Third, those "political issues" often mean the difference between employment and bankruptcy to those "close minded" locals. In this area the logging industry has been heavily impacted by environmental political activity. Much of it done by people living thousands of miles away who are totally ignorant about logging. This "industry" is not a faceless corporation but it is families who've been making their living in the woods for several generations. They are the people who cut the trees that were milled into logs so that you could have a house to live in. They take politics very seriously. Wolves are another example. To the city slicker they're some kind of majestic icon of freedom. To the rancher and hunter they are bloodthirsty killers that were eradicated for some very good reasons. Try some of that "warmth and open friendship" with someone who's seen their family pet ripped apart by a pack of wolves while it was trying to save the calves the wolves were attacking. People need to understand that political actions personally (and often, negativley) impact the lives of those who live in rural areas. Politics is not some benign subject to be lightly discussed over coffee and donuts. My advice is that newcomers are best served by being silent and learning to see things from local perspectives before getting involved in issues that are going to damage relationships. When people live in cities they are insulated from many of the things that they've done to rural communities. To put it in perspective, how warm and friendly would you be to someone who voted to terminate your livelihood or advocated building a maximum security prison or nuclear power plant in your neighborhood? It isn't just country folk who need to open up their minds a bit. A lot of city folk could do with it as well. The thing to remember is that you (meant collectively, not personally) are the "intruder" entering into another culture. Do so carefully and respectfully...Not like a missionary trying to convert the "heathen Indians" to the way of "civilized" man. After opening your mind to the ways and reasons of rural life you may see things a lot differently than before. This chapter in the book was written to help the newcomer successfully integrate into a rural community. Ultimately a person can take this advice or leave it. The choice is yours.


lisa akari
1/27/2013 3:30:45 PM

I really loved this article. Most of the points are just common sense. Sometimes though, you just can't teach folks these simple considerations. If they are considerate and have common sense, the points here will come naturally. I'm from Ohio country, where we had cattle break out of the neighbor's fields only to find them on our patio in the morning. It was fun for us kids to see that! I do have to say that I disagree with blending into the woodwork when it comes to religion or views. Isn't that the stuff that makes us different and life spicy? If we come to live peacefully together, who cares what religion or political cause you would like to work on? Country people can be awful stubborn and that's a good trait, but from personal back-home experience when it comes to religion and politics, not being open-minded is a trait that some country folk could work on. It's also common sense and consideration if someone is of a different religion, race, citizenship or political opinion comes to live near you, that we not block them out as foreign, and hate them outright. Open-mindedness, warmth and and an open hand of friendship goes a long way toward neighbors living together in a wonderful peace and community that living in the country brings. Who knows, that Indian neighbor who runs the local motel may offer you a free room because you've been kind. Or the Muslim that you didn't shun and extended your kindness to will go above with food and money and help if you experience a tragedy in your family. Or if we can look past our differences with the guy who has that strong political view who's always downtown trying to make change that he believes in...maybe he will support a cause you believe in too one day, or will help you when you're stuck at the side of the road in one of those snowplow ditches, because you swerved to miss a deer.






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