June 7, 2010

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Do you know your neighbors?

Over the weekend I finished In The Neighborhood by Peter Lovenheim. It was an interesting book. Not particularly brilliantly written, but the concept was compelling and hit home. The premise was this - a murder/suicide takes place in the author's neighborhood which forced the author to confront the fact that he didn't know anyone in the neighborhood. Nor did, he surmised, the majority of other neighbors. The author then decided he'd reach out to as many of his neighbors as he could. And, where possible, sleep over at their houses to learn how they led their daily lives.

Like I said, it struck a chord with me.

Since moving into our home three years ago, we haven't exactly formed any true relationships with our neighbors. We know each other to say hello. If we're out doing yard work or digging ourselves out after a massive blizzard, we'll stop and talk, usually about the weather or something that's happened in the neighborhood. I know the folks next door have a son in Iraq and a daughter ready to graduate from high school. On the other side, are also two kids, one who attends school with Mia, the other just certified to babysit. Across the street lives a couple both on their second marriages with one son living with them. They like football. But aside from those details, that's about all I know.

I'm not sure why that is but I suspect that a majority of folks are like that nowadays. Growing up it wasn't like that. We knew everyone on our street and had spent vast quantities of time in each others' homes. But now, perhaps, we're too insulated. Maybe we spend too much time sitting in front of screens. Hell, I can download or order most of the things I need to consume on a regular basis - books, music, movies, everything except food. We're living in a time in which we barely have to leave our houses. So we shouldn't be surprised that we don't know the people living next to us.

But I'm curious about you and your experience as a neighbor.

- What kind of area do you live in - rural, urban, suburban?
- How well do you think you know your neighbors?
- Do you think technology has in any way changed the way or amount you socialize?

This is something I'm really curious about and interested in. I hope you'll share your thoughts.

Posted by Chris at June 7, 2010 7:18 AM

Across the street are my in-laws, out my door and to the right is my 86 year old grandmother-in-law, a little further past her house is my husband's uncle and his wife. On the other side is another aunt and uncle. We live on several acres that was once the family farm and was years ago partitioned and left to the children, so we are surrounded my family almost as far as the eye can see. Yes, we know out neighbors!!
I have also live in the traditional American suburb and knew all of my neighbors on our end of the block, but probably only because we all had kids around the same age and we were all always outside with them, so it became a really nice close-knit community.

Posted by: Texxla at June 7, 2010 7:29 AM

We live in a suburb- seems like Stepford as we're in a country club neighborhood. We do know our neighbors well. We are blessed with 30 children under the age of 12 in a 3 block radius. They all play pick up baseball, have nerf wars and ride bikes. We frequently stand in the front yard with a beer and shoot the breeze with the parents. In fact, we have a rotating schedule during the week so there is always one sober parent. This is really helpful if your kid needs to go to the ER and you've been drinking!!!! We are so blessed. The house is too big, but I doubt we'll leave any time soon due to the neighborhood and the schools.

Posted by: Christy at June 7, 2010 7:42 AM

I moved to this house in October. On the one side is a Korean extended family where half the adults don't speak English and the other half work all the time. On the other side is a young couple with a 1yr-old. Across the street is a grass lot. We are neighborly with the couple because our entrances are so close (talk about plants, chat in the drive about tools, offer rides through snow to the store). I would like to know all my neighbors better and want to resist the trend of retreating. I moved to the East in hopes that people would be more neighborly and I have been feeling like I might have to force it. Then yesterday, the couple stopped by to bring us cookies, and the Koreans saw us eating on our deck and brought over some slices of their watermelon.

I am contemplating throwing a "block party"... do I have the courage to be so bold and do it alone?

(Texxla - I have a friend who has the same story...)

Posted by: Lisa at June 7, 2010 7:47 AM


I currently live in a loft community and it is very much a community. We (mostly they) are a social bunch. We interact a lot whether it be a throw-in BBQ spontaneously arranged, or walking to the near-by watering hole for beers and grub. There is drama sometimes but I know my neighbors. Hell, three of them came RUNNING from the watering hole to save me from the bat that found its way inside my loft. I am single and w/o kids as are most of the residents.

When I lived in Dallas however, that was quite another story. I knew that the president of the HOA lived next door. I knew the lady upstairs wore heels and came home at 3am a lot. That was the extent of my knowledge of my neighbors. Residents would walk right past each other with not even so much as a head nod.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Posted by: coral at June 7, 2010 7:50 AM

Suburban DC here... We've been in this house 8 years and barely know any of the neighbors, all of whom have also been here at least eight years. I was on the HOA board for three years and it seems be specific to our cul-de-sac. Other streets in the neighborhood seem to be much more involved in each others lives. I think we just have quiet people on our street.

Posted by: COD at June 7, 2010 8:11 AM

We live in a condo on the coast (thankfully the oil spill has not hit us yet). DH knows many of the established residents as he owned this place even before we met. As new people have trickled in, I have gotten to know them. But it's hard to stay in contact as many people rent their units so our neighbors are always changing. We are looking for something more suburban, so hopefully we can build better relationships in our next neighborhood.

Posted by: Tess at June 7, 2010 8:20 AM

Hmmmm....we have had 3 tornados and one major hailstorm that have done damage to our homes but I don't really know too many of them. I used to when my daughter was young and she played outside. But she is grown and gone, as are her friends, and their parents have mostly moved away and we just haven't gotten to know the "new" neighbors. I don't like being out in the heat and since our summers are always blistering I'm inside with the a/c most evenings. It's a shame. But I doubt I change.

Posted by: daisy at June 7, 2010 8:21 AM

We are very lucky in our neighborhood! (Suburban) In our little 9 house area of our plat we know every single neighbor. There are kids all over the place and our neighbors are generally extremely nice people. We all talk a lot, spend time together and invite the others to our parties. It's wonderful to live in this little spot even if I hate the city (Dayton) as a whole.

Posted by: Lisa D at June 7, 2010 8:26 AM

We live just outside a medium-sized city. Our neighborhood is old, and the houses are fairly close together (we have .14 acres) and there are a lot of young families in the neighborhood.. all of these things being the reason we chose the neighborhood (you don't need a large yard if most of the yards in the neighborhood are your kids' yard).

We have good relationships with one of our immediate neighbors (an older couple), and a "just say hi" with the other (younger, no kids, keep to themselves), but we are good friends with a few of the families with kids around our age. It is a great neighborhood.

Posted by: Kaz at June 7, 2010 8:37 AM

oops -- meant to address technology.. I think it can affect your relationships, as some people use technology to keep in touch with their "old friends" and are "forced" to reach out to their neighbors to satisfy that need for friendships. I don't think this is true for everyone, just some people may be more inclined to stick with the "known" that reach out to the unknown.

Posted by: Kaz at June 7, 2010 8:39 AM

I have sort of a strange neighbor situation, because I'm surrounded by vacant houses.

I live on a corner, so there is no house on one side of me. The one house immediately next door to me is vacant (and falling apart). The house directly across the street from me and the house next door to that are also both vacant. (It appears that they were all purchased with the intent of renovating and then re-selling at a higher price, and then the economy went to hell.)

I've only lived in my house for a year, and the houses have been vacant that entire time. The lot immediately behind mine is occupied by a barber shop. So, I don't actually HAVE any immediate neighbors.

The person who lives in an occupied house across the street from me speaks very little English. We have had some friendly interactions about our dogs, but that's it. (And my dog just died, so I don't know what we'll have to talk about now.)

No one in my neighborhood has ever reached out to me to initiate any kind of meaningful conversation, and I haven't reached out either. I'm shy, and I sort of feel like I don't fit in this neighborhood. Having no neighbors makes me feel very isolated.

Interestingly, a very active Facebook group has sprung up for my neighborhood in the past few months. I get more of a sense of community from interacting on that than I do when I walk down my street. It's as if we've all become so dependent on technology, it's the only way we're able to interact with one another anymore.

Posted by: Melody at June 7, 2010 8:47 AM

When I first moved from central MD to So. MD eight years ago, I considered my neighborhood rural---houses in this development are all on at least an acre, some neighbors have horses or chickens, everybody has a riding mower, etc. However, it's pretty much a DC suburban bedroom community. There are a bunch of families with kids about the same age as my young daughter (including five girls in her grade) and both my husband and I have been involved in the HOA over the years, so we know our neighbors fairly well...in some cases, we know a bit too much!

As for technology and socializing, I think a lot of people feel that they're staying in touch with friends when they post the occasional 140-character bit of trivia. There's no substitute for actually getting together and catching up with friends.

Posted by: Amanda at June 7, 2010 8:51 AM

We live in a suburban area, on a small one way street where all the houses are pretty close to each other. We've been here bout 14 years so we know most of our neighbors by name and in more of a passing conversation way. When I was growing up our neighborhood sounds the same as yours was. We knew everyone, went to each others houses..etc. I think things have changed because back then, none of them moms worked-so that was their social group. They had coffee in the morning together, talked as they hung clothes on the line, shared recipes, watched each others kids...they were more than neighbors, they were friends. Now everyone on our street works. Kids go off to daycare. Recipes are found on the internet. Our social circles have expanded to outside our neighborhood.

Posted by: Lisa at June 7, 2010 9:01 AM

I live in an inner suburb of Melbourne and love it. We practically live on top of each other in houses that have small or no back yards. Many people questioned why we would move closer to the city with less personal space when we had a growing family but the neighbourhood is filled with many parks and gardens. Instead of playing in the back yard, we all traipse over the road to run wild.
Not only is it is a great way for the kids to burn off energy, it is a great way for parents to catch up with each other and actually relax away from the domestic duties that need doing at home. As a result of spending so much time in the parks we know all of our neighbours. It is like having the benefits of country hospitality with the convenience of the city. I can't imagine living any other way.

Posted by: del at June 7, 2010 9:21 AM

I live in a pretty urban area, in a nice little neighborhood near the teaching hospital. From the back window of my house, I can see the city's tallest building lit like a giant penis shining through the dusky gloom. It's a very poetic (and phallic) place.

I only know a couple neighbors, even though I walk the dogs past nearly all of them everyday. The neighbors to the right I know pretty well; the neighbor to the left I just merely know. There's an older couple across the road I know by virtue of the female half of the couple being overwhelmingly forthcoming about EVERYTHING. The rest, however, not really any contact at all.

I don't think it's technology as much as it is a general wariness of everyone else that's been inserted into our psyche by the media and law enforcement. The message is that you can't trust anyone, so you probably shouldn't try. If you do, well, whatever happens is your fault. Most people believe what they're told without doing any digging of their own, so the bad stuff spewed by TV and newspapers becomes gospel. Blaming technology is the easy answer when I think the reality of it is much darker and sadder.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 7, 2010 9:34 AM

The city is seriously ripping up the street in front of our house, so everyone for two blocks is parking on our side street. I feel like I'm finally getting to know our next door neighbor, whom I had only ever seen in passing since her driveway is in the front of her house and ours is on the side. Plus, everyone seems to come out at night and assess the progress they are making on the street. It's weird, but it feels good?

Posted by: k8 at June 7, 2010 9:58 AM

Technology has changed things, my neighbor and i text each other when its time to retrieve our boys from the each others house!
We live on 1 acre lots and are apparently too busy to walk next door.

We know the basics of a few neighbors who are to the left, right and across the street. We have found that some people just do not want to be bothered with knowing their neighbors and that is fine too but when you have kids I think you should try to branch out and figure out who lives around you. It takes a village and if my kid is out riding their bike or shooting hoops or whatever they need to feel secure.

Posted by: steff at June 7, 2010 9:59 AM

We live in a suburb of far northwest Houston (nearing Tomball). We moved in 3 years ago, and sort of know a few of our neighbors, but we mostly all keep to ourselves. Since my kids have started to join community groups - girl scouts, swim team, and homeschool groups - we have made friends with other people in our neighborhood, but not our actual neighbors. We are surrounded by older, retired couples on all sides. This week, the house on our right and the house on our left went up for sale. We have our fingers crossed that a family with kids move in.

For us, it has nothing to do with technology, it has to do with have nothing in common with these folks. They are friendly, I am friendly, but the only thing we talk about is yardwork and when we all ought to work on putting up a new fence (and since we are the only ones under the age of 75, guess who will be doing most of the work).

Posted by: Jen at June 7, 2010 10:15 AM

I get so offended, when bloggers post "I can only allow you to follow me from now on if I know you in real life". and I think....dude, I know more about you than your next door neighbor.
Isn't that crazy?
I guess that's the answer to your third question right there.

I live in the semi-country. Private road, I can stand on my porch and pee ...if I so desire (I don't...because I'm a girl and ewwwww)
We know our closest neighbors by name, even their kids and they collect our mail when we're on vacation and we do the same for them.
But we don't get so close as the kids will feel comfortable coming down anytime and hanging out.
pretty simple.
We have Sunday afternoon b.j. time at the old hacienda. Don't want any gradeschoolers interrupting that, now dontcha know.

Posted by: Speckledpup at June 7, 2010 10:42 AM

I live in an older suburban neighborhood, facing a park (yay!). Eventhough the house has been in the family for over 30 years, we still only "know" our next door neighbor kindasorta, who moved back in after 3 unsuccessful rental attempts. I'm glad he's back.

The houses on the other side of ours have been in flux with various owners and renters (good and bad) and one poor house that has been empty for at least three years. It's kind of a sad-looking street. The upside is that we don't get any trick-or-treaters.

I remember my neighborhood as a kid. We knew everyone and spent lots of time at each other's houses. From a kid's perspective it was cool. I sometimes wonder how the parents felt about all of us running around.

I firmly believe technology has changed the way I live. I feel closer to those far away, and I would definitely never need to leave my house for quite a long time, other than my trips to Trader Joe's, if I so decided. However, I also tend to isolate, so ordering everything over the internet isn't something I want to totally rely on.

Posted by: bacioni at June 7, 2010 11:04 AM

OMG HI, it's been like an eternity since I've commented. I've been reading though.

We live in a very small town outside of Boston. I don't know whether I would even call this a suburb, because it's such a unique little town. It's one of those places you don't pass through, so you need to be purposefully coming here if you're coming here.

My friends and I joke that we live in Pleasantville, circa 1960. On our block, we ALL know each other. If not well, at least to say hello and greet each other by name. People check in on one another here- we shovel driveways if neighbors are out of town and bring dinners over when babies are born and people get sick. The block is made up of a mix of (a few) older folks who raised their children here and chose to stay, empty nesters whose kids are off at college or just starting out on their own, and those of us with young kids. Actually, three of my best friends live on this block, we all live right in a row, and we regularly get together for drinks and support. I didn't know them before we moved in, and I can't imagine life without them now. If we're out in our back yard, we chat with our other next door neighbors over the fence, we have impromptu bbqs all the time.

Our kids are still pretty young, but there will be a day when they're running from yard to yard and coming home when the streetlights come on. I know I'll be giving my friends a call to let them know their kids are at my house and they're welcome to stay for dinner.

Our house has 3 beds, and we're expecting baby #4 any day now- so you can do the math on space. But we'll never leave and some day we'll convert our attic to a 3rd floor for more bedrooms. For the time being? We're packing in like sardines in our little slice of happiness.

As for technology- this is telling: my next door neighbor and I can spend all afternoon playing with the kids, and then email back and forth about recipes all night. Also: without email, I don't know how I'd keep up with my friends I DON'T live next door to because my children are like telephone bloodhounds and the minute I even THINK about picking up the phone to call anyone, they NEED ME IMMEDIATELY.

Posted by: chatty cricket at June 7, 2010 11:22 AM

I live in a suburban neighborhood. When we moved in 4 years ago, it was tough to meet people. However, we were fortunate enough to have a neighborhood park around the corner from us (if we could have cut through our back neighbors yard we would have been at the park). We met a lot of our neighbors there and several more once our kids were in preschool together. I have several close friends that I know a lot about and others that I am friendly with. I know that if my son ever gets off the bus and his father or I are not there (for some godforsaken reason) that one of my neighbors will take him home with them (letting us know where he is). It is a nice area and we are very fortunate. Having your kids go to the regular school (like grade school) makes people reach out more too.

Posted by: Jean at June 7, 2010 11:27 AM

Really the only neighbor of mine whose name I know is the one that lives directly upstairs from me, and the only reason we met is because her parked car hit my parked car (it's a long story). I've said hello to some of my other neighbors passing by, but that's about it. Apartment complexes don't seem to lend well to meeting the neighbors.

Posted by: Katie at June 7, 2010 11:30 AM

If I hadn't had my son, there is a good chance I still wouldn't know much about my neighbors. We are in a suburb of Boston, and our houses are pretty tight, we all know when we are yelling at our spouses or kids, but the social aspects of life really do center around the kids in the neighborhood. So I do know most of my immediate neighbors, and socialize with them. It isn't quite to what it was when I was growing up, where I was in my neighbor's house all the time without my parents, and visa versa, but I think it will probably get there, once the kids are older.

Posted by: MidLifeMama at June 7, 2010 11:34 AM

I live in a suburban area, but houses are close together. There were no kids when my daughter was small, so she didn't play outside with others like I did when I was a kid.

We chat with our neighbors like you do with yours - the weather; etc. I know a couple of them well enough that they know my daughter's activities so there is more to discuss. Never been inside anyone's home, beyond the foyer, although with those two, I could have them over for dinner...just never got around to it.

Technology isolates us, but I don't think from our neighbors - it just means we don't have to run as many errands. I think PEOPLE have changed - or perhaps how much we know about them has changed - so we are less inclined to get to know the neighbors. What if they are odd? Creepy? Worse? It's better not to know that, almost, then to KNOW you are living next to someone that creeps you out.

When the renter across the street needed to borrow my phone because she was locked out of her house after being dropped off by a taxi after spending the night in jail, that was too much information. And when that same person has a daughter the same age as my daughter...and wishes they were in school together, that's when I'm glad we homeschool. And wish I lived in a rural area on a few acres.

Posted by: Teresa at June 7, 2010 11:36 AM

We live in suburban NoVA in a community of relatively large townhouses. Though all were owner occupied 11 years ago when the community was built and we purchased, it's now roughly half renters. So, there's a lot of turnover. Next door, we've had a middle-aged single woman who worked nights. We saw her only when she needed to borrow something. Since then, we've had two different 3-generation families move in. In both cases, the grandparents spoke no English, the parents both had full-time work outside the house, and the woman would not speak or even look directly at either my husband or me. The husbands are nice enough but we only see them on rare occasions when we are all shoveling snow, etc.

I will say, that parts of our neighborhood are very social. At least 50% of our neighbors are Indian, and the kids and middle-generation tend to gather in the streets to talk & play when the weather is nice, but that's always after we're settled in for the night. It's not at all uncommon for even very young kids to be out playing with neighbors until past midnight.

Posted by: Kate M at June 7, 2010 12:06 PM

Well, I live out in the country on the same street I've lived on since I was 9. My brother and parents live in the two houses closest to us. There is only one house on the street that I don't know the people at all, and one other house where I'm not too familiar with them. Otherwise, everyone knows everyone here and I wouldn't change it for the world. I love that when we're in the front yard, people beep and wave all the time!

Posted by: Traci at June 7, 2010 12:08 PM

I live in a suburban area, and I know most everyone on my street well enough to say hello, calling them by name, and generally what they do for a living. I know that I could borrow a cup of sugar. My immediate neighbors and I have exchanged phone numbers so that we can call each other in the event of an emergency or to watch each other's homes if one of us is out of town.

My parents live in a suburban neighborhood where everyone talks often and spends time together.

I have chalked my lack of "closeness" with my neighbors up to the fact that I can't relate to them - they're in their 30's with small children while I'm in my late 20's and just have a dog.

Posted by: Emily at June 7, 2010 12:19 PM

I live in the inner-city, I think. I live near downtown in Las Vegas.

I know 3 of my neigbors. Both next door and one across the street. They are all fabulous and we even exchange Christmas gifts. However, there are a lot more on our block that I have no idea who are.

And, if you can believe this, two houses down they turned that into a church. Hello? Really?

Very very odd.

Posted by: debb at June 7, 2010 12:26 PM

I'm glad you asked, because I love our neighborhood. LOVE it.

It took about a year before everyone came out of their shells but then it snowballed and now everyone is not just neighbors, but friends.

- Suburban neighborhood, near a school. Just like I grew up with.
- Very well. Some more than others of course. We've been to baseball games together, we have all hosted a pot-luck, or a poker night or something.
- Technology is only enhancing our socialization because we use email and FB to set up BBQs, poker nights, or golf games.

The hardest part is initiating those situations where people get to know each other. Hosting the backyard BBQ, or the front-yard fire-pit marshmallow-roasting, or the yard-game night of four square, washers, ladder-golf, bocce ball, whatever. Once you've done that, things change, and always for the better.

Posted by: Brad at June 7, 2010 12:31 PM

We live in a suburb of Los Angeles, I guess. Or maybe it's a suburb of Ventura? Across the street is an elementary school, so all our neighbors live to the left and to the right. On our left is a retired couple that we know enough to chat with, like your neighbors. On the right is a retired single woman. Both of our neighbors have grown children. Our right-hand neighbor is afraid of dogs. We have two. Two houses down to the right are my favorite neighbors. We should have them over. They have a 6 year old and a 19 year old. The one started Kindergarten the same year the other graduated high school. They are funny people. They make special Halloween treats for the neighborhood kids. I don't know why we don't get out with them more. I guess I burn a lot of energy maintaining my friendships up north. I have best friends...I don't really need more friends. My daughter's school friends' parents are our friends, and we DO hang out with them, but they're not within walking distance.

Technology enables me to socialize almost daily with my friends who live 400 miles away. It keeps us closer. I don't think it drives me, personally, away from my local neighbors. I'm a shy person and pretty introverted, so I'm not really into hanging out with new people anyway.

Posted by: Brooke at June 7, 2010 12:39 PM

I live in an apartment building in Minneapolis. I know our resident manager's name and his phone number for an emergency. I know the guy across the hall is unemployed and very friendly. And that's it. There are twelve units in our building and I'm embarrassed to say that's all I know about them. We don't have building happy hours or anything and the only shared space is the mailbox lobby and the laundry room. I'm just not sure how exactly we would know anyone else short of creepily knocking on their doors.

Posted by: NGS at June 7, 2010 12:42 PM

I live in a suburban area (though it feels rural a lot of the time). I know the people in the two houses directly across the street. One of the families has a daughter my daughters age, so, instant friendship. We chat frequently, borrow sugar (no shit), run the kids to and from school, etc. The other family has much younger kids, but are closer to my age and the husband is a chatterbox, we attend BBQ's and parties at their house. The only other neighbor I know is next door to me, and the only reason I know him is because he offered to trim my trees while he was drunkenly (majorly) wielding a chainsaw (true story). I know a few things about him: I have never (in 4 years) seen him sober; he has one lung & still smokes; and he likes chainsaws.

Yes, I think technology changes the way and the amount that we socialize. Like you, when I was growing up, my whole neighbor hood knew each other. Every year we had a big bike parade (for the kids) that ended in a day long party at the park. Everyone knew everyone and watched out for each others kids. Not so much these days.

Posted by: js at June 7, 2010 1:19 PM

I live in the suburbs - a master planned community on the edge of Las Vegas.

I don't know a single neighbor.

I really don't think technology has anything to do with it. The last place I lived where I really knew my neighbors was back in 1998. And that happened because ours were new homes, embroiled in construction defect litigation. Otherwise? I don't think we would have.

People in Las Vegas are generally not very neighborly.

Posted by: Mindy at June 7, 2010 1:59 PM

I'm in urban Edinburgh, about 30 minutes walk from the city centre in a traditional tenement building. I know the names of a couple of the neighbours, and some of their kids. I stop and chat to the lady who organises the garden committee, and my immediate neighbours, but I've never been in their homes.

That's generally my experience of neighbours but my dad used to have neighbours who all got on brilliantly and used to nip in and out of each other's houses all the time.

I think I should make more of an effort to get to know the neighbours (although the thin walls between our bedroom and the 3 kids-soon-to-be-4 bedroom next door means I know them a bit too well!), I'm just not a really social person.

Posted by: Katherine at June 7, 2010 2:02 PM

I live in the suburbs...but very close to me is a semi-ghetto-type area. Remember the town in PA that had the spree of fires? Yeah, that's the general vibe. I have a couple of really nice neighbors that I don't spend tons of time with but we chat here and there...and if I needed anything, I could rely on them (and vice versa). The kids on our street are all older than mine but are very, very nice to my kids. Several of my neighbors just suck. Technology does not inhibit me- it's the general vibe of the neighborhood that sort of forces me to keep a little distance. All in all- I can't wait until we can afford to move!!!!

Posted by: Jane in Pa at June 7, 2010 3:54 PM

I am square in the suburbs. We know our immediate neighbors in a slightly more than superficial way. George and Martha (really) are retired military, have kids my age and grandkids my kid's age. We invite them to our annual fiesta and they've had us over to a bbq. I've gone to the pool with their daughter and grnadkids. One the other side is my son's buddy and his family. I think the kids all know each other better than the grown ups. We chat outside while the kids play. We know what they do for a living and some basic background stuff, but we don't go on outings together. They both work full time and the kids are in daycare. I think I'd know them better if one of them were home with the kids all day like me. I think it is less technology for me and more that I move every 2 years. Usually to an area where I know other Navy friends and so I don't feel the need to make as many new friends. I'm hoping that will change a little as my son starts school.

Posted by: Annie at June 7, 2010 4:07 PM

We live in a suburb where the houses are about 10 feet apart. There's a big mix of owner-occupied & rentals. We have been in the neighborhood for 10 year; we rented for 3, and liked the neighborhood so much that when our neighbors 2 doors down moved, we bought their house. We are very friendly with several of the households who were there when we moved there & we all get together frequently for drinks on one front porch or another. For the most part I really like this, and it reminds me of the neighborhood I grew up in, and it's the reason we bought our house, but there are definitely times I'd like to be a little more anonymous.

Posted by: Becky at June 7, 2010 4:24 PM

I've lived in a lot of places. In some places we knew our neighbors, some we didn't, and in a couple of places, the closest neighbors were miles away. At the last house I lived in with my parents, we knew the neighbors enough to say hello and maybe keep an eye out for any strange happenings. Now, I live in an apartment complex and I don't know my neighbors, nor do I care to. This may surprise you, but I generally don't like people. I'm not good in large crowds and it takes me a while to get comfortable with people. I'm also very private and I want to keep my business to myself and I want my neighbors to do the same. Also, I live in Florida in a city that's still strange after almost a year, and for some reason I feel like if I break out of my shell, that will increase my vulnerability. I feel that if I keep to myself, I'll stay safe. It's not that I'm rude to my neighbors if we pass in the parking lot, but I don't go out of my way to get to know them.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 7, 2010 5:55 PM

I live in an urban neighborhood and I don't really know my neighbors. I know Jim down the hall because he's a friend of Wil's from his previous job. But we don't see him much. I know the Safeway guy who recently had the license plates stolen from his truck. He likes to smoke pot in the parking garage and was the first person to discover my car when it was broken into the previous time. He knew enough of about us to come to our door and tell us. But I could not tell you his name or which apartment he is in, I just know he works at Safeway because he sometimes has the uniform shirt on when I see him.

Posted by: Jodi at June 7, 2010 6:22 PM

Hi, living in a VERY rural area in N.S. , same community I grew up in, we know most of our neighbors. When our son was growing up (18 now, and gone) he would leave in the morning, come home for lunch, and be gone again , and back for supper, gone again, and back before it got dark. We never lock our house, and leave the keys in our vehicles.(overnight)... can go in our neighbors house, if they aren't home and get that cup of sugar. You would have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming....oh and we have the best beaches in the country at our doorstep. The "come from away's" that move to our community are welcomed with open arms, and sometimes, they don't know what to do. They can't believe the way we live.Oh, and there is always a cold beer in the fridge for drop-ins....lol

Posted by: Roberta at June 7, 2010 7:53 PM

Neighbor Craig across street = hours of entertainment. My Mailman to my left, older couple to right. Up the hill in the subdivison, lots of families with kids my kids' age who all hang out together and get dirty. Couple of older people who have been in the neighborhood since the beginning, about rounds it out. I do feel lucky that the older people tend to be out walking so they watch the houses, but like you, we are friendly, but not in everybody's business.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2010 11:31 PM

Ok, I'm late to the party and haven't read all the comments, but I think technology has played a part. 1st off, we spend way too much time online and in front of the TV. 2nd, we have air conditioning now. Back in the 50's we'd sit out on the porch and socialize, now we stay inside.
I live in the 'burbs. I know the neighbors on both sides. Well enough that we invite them to our annual Christmas party, and have a chat in the driveway, but we aren't up in each other's business.... Also met a neighbor across the street just a few weeks back while walking the dog on a different route. And some new people that moved into the high rent district in the development behind us and don't feel like they fit in back there. (They worked hard for years for their money and are in the midst of doctors/lawyers/pharma reps who are high rollers) Oh, and then there are the nuns we met - "Are you the ones with the loud motorcycle??" Oops!! LOL!
My brother warned me when I bought my house not to get too chummy with the neighbors, because what if they won't leave ya alone after you meet??

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at June 8, 2010 1:35 AM

We live in the 'burbs. We stop and chat quite frequently with several of our neighbors. I wouldn't call them friends, but they're definitely friendly acquaintances. I give them pumpkin bread at Christmas, one guy always snow blows for us, we mow the lawn of the folks who just moved in and don't have a mower yet, we all loan each other stuff. It's cordial and friendly. It's one of the best parts of living in our neighborhood.

Posted by: Hope at June 8, 2010 8:24 AM

I live about 3 miles from downtown Ottawa... it's very much a community feel around here, we all stand around and having a drink on Friday evenings, we have a few street parties a year. I'd call a few of them friends. But it is very much a community. And we are never ever moving.

Posted by: Nat at June 8, 2010 9:36 AM

I grew up in California, first in a rural area with no neighbors and then in a nice but not at all close together neighborhood, so I never had the "neighbor thing" as a kid. I envied kids who lived on blocks with other kids. Lived in the Bay Area for 5 years and the neighbors didn't talk. Moved to an older neighborhood in LA and hey, guess, what, the neighbors didn't talk. I tried, I really did, but they were totall uninterested. Moved to TN and HELLO, neighbor jackpot. I got really lucky - this neighborhood takes care of eachother. We have cocktail hours all summer, game nights in the winter and everyone looks out for everyone else. LOVE it and am so thrilled to finally get the community thing.

Posted by: Aimee at June 8, 2010 11:38 AM

We know our neighbors fairly well, due in large part to my wife's outgoing and friendly personality. I lived in our house for a number of years before she moved in, and I didn't really know my neighbors during that stretch. The other thing that contributes to our knowing the neighbors is our kids -- the neighbors across the street watch them now and then, and the ones to our left share carpooling chores with my wife (same preschool, so it makes sense).

We're in suburban Seattle (West Seattle) and have had bbqs, picnics, marshmallow roasts, gardening chore days, borrowed pickup trucks, shared trikes and tools..... the list goes on and on.

Too bad I didn't know them before my wife moved in!

Posted by: pvz at June 8, 2010 12:12 PM

Live in the suburbs. Hubby and I don't make good neighbors. Opposite when I was growing up, we knew everyone and hung out with all the neighborhood kids and knew our neighbors well. But, I grew up in a small town.

I haven't been neighborly since my military days. We keep to ourselves and I'm not much for small talk with neighbors.

That being said, I am friendly when they move in and I introduce myself, but that is about it. Having neighbors that I just wave too suits me just fine.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at June 8, 2010 1:48 PM

1) We live right off Main Street in a rural New Jersey town. We walk down the street to the farmer's market every Sunday, and farms supplying it are all around us. Despite that, we live in a 72-unit condo development. There are very few places you can escape the condo development in NJ.

2) We've been here six months, after living in Chicago for 10 years. We're doing all right meeting our neighbors. There are three kids in the development that are our daughter's age, so we've met their parents at the playground. We know our neighbors on both sides and we've been invited to our first party. I feel we'll get to know some people quite well, while others will remain a mystery.

3) I don't think so. I don't really spend much time on the computer when you get down to it. My day is too full of toddler. Maybe it's helped, in that I belong to a local mom's group that connects mostly through the internet.

We did have many close friends in the neighborhood in Chicago -- the kind of friends you could call at 3 a.m. if you had a problem. It really helped living in a liberal enclave with cool people all around. I think it will be a little harder to find "our kind" in this part of the world.

Posted by: Laura Gato at June 8, 2010 1:55 PM

We live in a suburban area, but not a traditional neighborhood - we live on a main thoroughfare through our town.

We have the BEST neighbors in the world! No, really. We are close with both our neighbors on each side of our house.

We had an older couple living next to us until the wife passed away a year ago. Now it's just Mr. George, and he has dinner with us every few weeks. We are friends with his daughters and their families. We share duties keeping up our properties.

On our other side we have a couple with three kids, one in college, in the fall, two in high school. We share duties keeping up our properties and when they go away, we watch their house/dogs and when we go away, they watch our house/dog. Their girls are our baby sitters.

Behind us is a trailer park (luckily, we have enough land that we don't actually SEE the trailer park. We aren't close to anyone back there. There is also two businesses that share our neighbor's drive - the business (a furniture restorer and sign shop) are located behind this neighbor. We are friendly with them as well, although we only see them on a week day basis. But they bring their dogs when on property and our dog is friendly with their dogs and so on.

We are very happy with our situation and, although it would be nice if Leda had some younger friends to play with, couldn't want more. And we know that we are definitely not the norm.

And, during the nice weather months, we see each other MUCH more...we tend to spend more time outside. Funny enough, I don't think that technology has changed this.

Posted by: cyndy at June 8, 2010 4:06 PM

I'm in a rural/suburban area. The neighbor on my right side? I don't know him other than he's an asshole who called teh police on us when the public utilities guy who was doing work on our house accidentally ran over the edge of the guy's lawn with his truck. (Also, I'm kind of sure this neighbor has human heads in his freezer. He's weird).

My neighbor on my right is a sweet woman - does a lot of fundraising for breast cancer research like I do. Runs an office within my kids' school. Has two sons in their twenties (one who is wicked cute, but I totally didn't say that because I am an old married lady who doesn't say those things).

Two doors down is another sweet lady who buys my kids birthday presents and lets them walk her dog because they love dogs and I'm allergic. She has a daughter in Seattle who I've never met, but I'm Facebook friends with because her mom talked about me and my kids so much to her, and her and her kids to me so much -- felt like we knew each other!

The people behind us are teachers. The people around the corner are all on a fantasy football league with my husband. (But I don't like any of the wives. So my husband has friends in the 'hood -- but I don't).

Posted by: sarah at June 9, 2010 10:20 AM

I've lived in the same basement suite for a couple years now, and I just found out yesterday that the man across the street worked with my Dad thirty years ago.
I think, though, that being a renter, I am less invested in the neighbourhood. When I find my forever home, I will invest more in building geographic relationships.

Posted by: Heather at June 10, 2010 2:31 AM

I had a desire to start my own organization, but I did not have enough amount of money to do that. Thank goodness my close friend said to take the mortgage loans. So I took the auto loan and made real my dream.

Posted by: PopeDarlene24 at September 11, 2010 2:41 AM

This is another one of the best story of In the neighborhood by Peter Lovenheim.

Posted by: Online Education at September 28, 2010 6:23 AM