Monday, September 17, 2012

What Makes a Good Neighbor?

When we bought our house a decade ago, we were bowled over by the friendliness of our neighbors. We loved the camaraderie that happened the day after a giant snow storm when everyone was outside trying to deal with the mound in their driveway. We loved trick or treating on Halloween when the older neighbors pretended they didn't recognize our son.

Time marches on. The faces in the neighborhood have changed but the charm of the area has not. Most of our neighbors, whether they've been here longer than us or are relatively new on the block, are good ones. 

Photo courtesy of Click at Morguefile.

We've counted our blessings many times that we happened to land in this particular neighborhood in this particular town. 

So, it was with surprise that my husband and I saw our next door neighbor's "for sale" sign.

ANY "for sale" sign on a house right next door makes me a bit nervous. We're getting ready to trade the known for the unknown. When you're talking neighbors, that's a scary prospect.

The first neighbors we had in that house were a lovely couple that was nearing retirement age. They were the kind of people who voluntarily cleared our driveway with their snow blower when they saw me out there trying to shovel 20" of snow and keep a toddler entertained at the same time. We would chat and trade bulbs while we gardened on lovely spring days. Their grandson played with our son. They loved the house and the neighborhood, but began having trouble navigating the full flight of stairs that went up from their entry way to the living space. They hated to move and we hated to see them go.

The next owners were a couple a bit younger than us that was expecting their first child the same time we were expecting our third. You'd think we'd have a lot in common, but we really didn't. Now, the two little ones are four, live right next door to each other and don't know each other from a stranger at the grocery store. But, the adults have been perfectly nice in every way. They're not loud. They don't have obnoxious pets. They asked our permission before they built a fence that came close to the property line. They keep their yard tidy. They're text book good neighbors and we've appreciated that.    

But, in all honesty, I'm mostly sorry to see them go because of my fear of the unknown.

We've had neighbor drama before and don't care to repeat it. If you've ever had a bad neighbor experience,  you'll know how crappy and stressful it is. Luckily, that wasn't with next door neighbors. Somehow, I have a feeling that when you're sharing a property line things are even more personal and stressful than when there's a street dividing the neighbors in question.

On the other hand, I'm REALLY excited at the prospect of new neighbors. I love having a friendly, chatty neighborhood and I'm hoping to get neighbors that will be just as excited about that prospect as they are about their new home. I'd love to have next door neighbors who would lend a cup of sugar in a pinch. Or who feel comfortable enough to ask to borrow one.  Or that like to stand outside on beautiful spring days and talk about plants and flower bulbs and don't mind when the kids kick balls onto their yard.

For the most part, that's the kind of neighborhood we have. I'd love to see it stay that way.


  1. We've lucked out with our neighbors too. It makes a HUGE difference, doesn't it? Hope you inherit a nice family with kids!


  2. We live in the country, but have great neighbors around here. The first Christmas we were here we had a neighborhood Christmas party at our home and every year since then someone has that party. Perhaps the way to have good neighbors is to be a good neighbor.

    My husband is slow to mow the yard and several men, realizing he has Alzheimer's, have just come over with their riding lawn mowers and helped out. I have had to stop worrying about what the neighbors think about our yard, because they are so wonderful about the weeds and that front yard that again needs mowing.