Do you have to put your mailbox out at the street?

Once upon a time, the mailman walked from house to house and put the mail through a slot in the door, or in a box attached to the house. Still does in some places, I guess. In more rural areas, the mailbox is always out at the end of the driveway on a post, so the mailman can deliver with a car.

So, can someone who lives in a rural area just put a box on their house and expect the mailman to deliver to it? I assume not, but what’s the difference?

No. If everybody else in your neighborhood has their mailbox on a post at the end of their driveway, then if you want to get your mail, you have to have a mailbox on a post at the end of your driveway, too. This is because your mail will be delivered from a letter carrier sitting in a car reaching out the car window into the mailboxes, and he/she’s not expected to get out of the car, or even to drive up your driveway, to deliver your mail right to your doorstep.

That’s just the way it works, on a rural route. Same thing for garbage collection–if everybody else in your neighboorhood has to put the trash out in a big green wheelie thing on the curb, so do you, because that’s the way it’s set up for the garbage company that has your neighborhood.

I should have added, because the letter carrier’s route is carefully timed, by Management, and it’s written down in a big book back at the office, how long it ought to take to deliver that route, based on everybody’s having mailboxes on posts at the ends of the driveways. However, if the letter carriers have to go driving up and down everybody’s driveways to deliver mail right to their doorsteps, each route will take forEVER.

In this town, and I think throughout the U.S., houses built since about 1970 have mailboxes near the street. This is in town, not just rural areas.

I usually have to put my mailbox back on the pole. Some jackass broke it off, and now the wind blows it off onto the ground.

[nitpick] My parent’s house has a mailbox attached next to the front door, which is a good distance from the street where all of their neighbors’ mailboxes are. I think it had something to do with the previous owners having a physical disability.[/nitpick]

Could I chose to remove my mailbox from the street because I don’t want to get mail at that address?

When I was growing up in the woods of Maine, we had an “R.F.D.” address, which stood for Rural Free Delivery. We all had our mailboxes at the side of the road and the mailcarrier delivered from a car. While we did have the inconvenience of having to walk out to the mailbox, we had the bonus of having our mail picked up for us. That’s what the red flag on the side of the mailbox is for. You put it up if you have mail, and the postman will know to stop for it even if he doesn’t have anything to deliver that day.

In my current suburban town, mailboxes are generally on the side of the house, next to the front door. And while our mailman (a very nice fellow) will pick up outgoing mail if I leave it, he is not required to do so.

“Subject to state laws and regulations, a curbside mailbox must be placed to allow safe and convenient delivery by carriers without leaving their vehicles. The box must be on the right-hand side of the road in the direction of travel of the carriers on any new rural route or highway contract route, in all cases where traffic conditions are dangerous for the carriers to drive to the left to reach the box, or where their doing so would violate traffic laws and regulations.”

As lucidity has said, it depends on the State you are in, which we don’t know. So you could ask at your PO what
the rules are, SmackFu.

In my city its required that all apts have their mailboxes clustered together.

The age of the house seems to have something to do with it. Where I live in Delaware, there are several housing developments all built together of various ages. In the front are older houses that were bult in the '60’s or earlier. They all have mailboxes by the front door and the mailman walks up and down every street. In my section, all the houses were built in the '80’s and have mailboxes on the street. The very same mailman delivers the mail to our houses from his vehicle.

Another situation where mail is delivered door to door is in a city. I used to live in Philadelphia and all mail was delivered to mailboxes by the front door (and the mailman did not take mail to be delivered, unlike where I live now). In fact, each mailman picked up his mail to deliver from drop boxes placed every couple of blocks. I guess this allowed each mailman to work a local area without having to travel to the large central post office serving Philadelphia. Also, this helped relieve some traffic on city streets.

I recall reading an editorial a few years ago complaining about how the postal service was requiring new developments to place mailboxes conveniently for letter carriers, but not necessarily for residents. I suppose that older houses and apartments are “grandfathered”

Sorry I don’t have a cite.

I think the grandfathering is the key. Here in the Minneapolis suburbs, houses built in the 1950’s have boxes attached to the houses.

Houses from the 70’s have them by the curb.

And newer developments (of houses, not just apartments and townhomes) have the big single mailbox with little locked boxes for each house.

It’s obvious the PO is trying to save cash money by making delivery more efficient. What I wonder is why I get the privilege of getting my mail at the house just because of the age of the neighborhood. Why don’t they just plant a new big mailbox at the end of the block and say, “You’ve been spoiled enough. Here’s yer mail!”?

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this. I used to live in University Park, Iowa, a town with a population of ~450, and we didn’t have mailboxes at all! We had to drive to the post office and get our mail from post office boxes!

Even worse, they made us pay for the boxes (at first, then it became free during the last two of the 3 years I lived there).

Even WORSE was that the PO was only open from 9-4:30 (or something), and unlike most PO’s, they locked the OUTSIDE door, keeping us from the boxes. So, if you had a normal-hour job and lived alone, you couldn’t get mail. I used to drive there for lunch twice a week just so I could get my mail.

BTW, it was open on saturdays, but only until 10 or so – like I was awake yet!

Does anyone live in a town where the mailman doesn’t deliver mail to houses at all? I grew up in a small town in Montana (70’s-80’s) where they didn’t deliver the mail if you lived in town. Most people (including my family) rented post office boxes. If you didn’t do that, you had to have your mail delivered to “General Delivery” and pick it up when the main post office window was open.

The rationale, I think, was that you are only guaranteed Rural Free Delivery by the Post Office, so those in town are out of luck.

See my above post. We had the same thing, but maybe worse.

What’s really lame is that University Park was right next to Oskaloosa, IA. You wouldn’t know you’d left one to enter the other if it weren’t for the sign. Oskaloosa had it’s own post office and delivery system.

Instead of FREAKING using the EXISTING Oskaloosa post system, which delivered mail ON ALL SIDES OF UNIVERSITY PARK, U.P. had its OWN STUPID POST OFFICE THAT DIDN’T DELIVER. What a WASTE. A small island of totally redundant yet severely bad service in an ocean of normal service.

I live in a house built in 1997 that has a mailbox just outside the front door. All the other houses on the street were built around the 60’s and have mailboxes just outside the door. So, even though it’s a newer house, we are lucky enough to have mail delivered right to the door.

All this applies for two more weeks, until we move into a new house we’ve been building in a new subdivision. I just found out today from my wife, that the mandated and uniform mailboxes mailboxes (street-side) will cost me $200.

I’ll miss my $10 mailbox outside the front door.


Here’s an interesting article I found: It seems that the USPS “bribes” developers to install “clustered” mailboxes.

“Some jackass broke it off”

I read some guy who had that happen to him so he put in a cement pole (but it looked like wood from the
outside) & the kids sure were surprised when they tried to hit it the next time.

Perhaps it is not only age of the house, but also the size of the lots. In my neighborhood, most of the houses are older–pre 1930s in most cases. But the lots are also fairly small. It would be rare to find one much over 1/4 acre. They tend to be narrow and deep. The mailman delivers on foot and the mailboxes are all on the houses.

Come to think of it, there are no street-side mailboxes even on the streets that have the gigantic old Victorians on big lots. Combine that with the fact that the garbage man comes up the driveway to collect the garbage (no garbage cans at the curb), and we end up with a very tidy looking neighborhood. :slight_smile: