Now that you’ll be living off-campus, you’ll be leaving the built-in social network of the Residence Halls and joining a whole new community—your immediate neighborhood, as well as the greater Bellingham community. Living in a new community is exciting, but it can be daunting, especially when nobody tells you the rules of the road. In the residence halls, your neighbors were all other students. But now that you’re off-campus, it’s important to remember that the people next door may have children, full-time jobs, and long-term investments in their property and neighborhood. You’re now a member of two communities – Western Washington University and Bellingham – and you have a responsibility to be a respectful member of both. We hope the following information and suggestions will help you to quickly make connections and feel right at home.
- Have fun, get involved, and be friendly with your neighbors. Many non-students enjoy the great benefits that having Western students in the community provides!
- Ask for help! Did you lock yourself out of your house, need to know where to drop that couch off, or have a question about something happening on your street or in your neighborhood? Ask your neighbors – it’s a great way to connect and learn from each other.
- Offer to help your neighbors with yard work and chores (especially your elderly neighbors).
- Keep it subdued (large parties, outside gatherings, loud music, etc.). Bellingham has a round-the-clock noise ordinance, meaning someone can be cited for violating it any time of day or night. For more information on what to look out for if you are having a party visit our "Ultimate Social Scene" page. For more information on city ordinances and codes click here.
- Keep your home and yard clean and free of debris and maintain the regular pick-up for trash, recycling, and compost collection. The Bellingham Municipal Code also states that garbage containers shall be located off of any public street, alley, sidewalk, or other public place except at or about the time of collection. This means that you can’t leave your garbage cans and recycling out on the street except on the day of collection. Violating this code can result in litter being blown out of the receptacles and contributes to litter accumulation in some neighborhoods. If receptacles are up beside the residence and not out on the street or sidewalk every day, there is less likelihood of litter being blown out or strewn by animals/birds. For more information on city ordinances and codes click here.
- If you have a party, make sure to clean up the property afterward. Check and make sure folks have not left trash, recycling, or other items in your neighbors’ yard, on the sidewalk, or in the street.
- Be aware of your neighbors’ parking needs and do not block sidewalks or driveways. For more information on city ordinances and codes click here.
Get to Know Your Neighbors!
Lots of WWU students have found good friends in their neighbors, even though they may be at different stages of life. The connections you make with your neighbors can provide friendships, safety, security, and even job leads! Here are some tips on how to connect with your neighbors:
- Make a point to meet your neighbors. After moving into your new place, take time to notice the folks in your neighborhood and look for natural ways to introduce yourself and opportunities to help (yard work, carrying groceries, etc.). Offering to help someone with a chore is great way to break the ice and connect.
- Be open, genuine, and curious. If you are honestly interested in getting to know your neighbors, they will sense that and return the courteousness! If you feel comfortable, offer to exchange phone numbers, so that you can contact each other in the event of an emergency or other need.
- You can meet and connect with your neighbors by attending neighborhood association meetings, serving on your neighborhood board, or attending a work party/event put on by your neighborhood. For information on what neighborhood you are in and how to get on their contact list click here.
- Some benefits to knowing your neighbors:
- If there is a safety or crime issue in your neighborhood, knowing your neighbors can help you find out about it faster.
- If you and your neighbors have a friendly relationship you can call each other if you need help. Maybe your party is too loud, they use a leaf blower at 7am, there is a parking issue, or you need to exchange extra sets of keys in case someone ends up locked out.
- Helping neighbors out with yard work or other projects can potentially lead to some extra cash, a home cooked meal, or that priceless warm and fuzzy feeling of helping out a fellow human!