» Like a Good Neighbor

No, this isn’t a post about a well-known insurance company with a catchy jingle.

As I may have mentioned previously, we are moving soon, and are SUPER ALL CAPS excited about it. We have moved… a lot. This is our seventh shared home in almost 11 years of marriage, and while we understand that is ridiculous, it’s sort of in us now. Although we are very hopeful that after we leave our next home we will find one we like enough that we can live in it for 20-30 years or more.

In all of our moves we have been friends with our neighbors exactly zero times. In the neighborhood where I grew up there were only about 20 houses and my best friends lived in two of them. Neighborhood parties for holidays and for fun were the norm, and everyone tended to live together in harmony (for the most part). My mom and stepdad still live in that house and are friendly with a lot of the neighbors.

In the house where Jim grew up, his neighbors were his aunt and cousins, and other neighbors he knew and grew up around. It wasn’t exactly a party situation, but he was comfortable with his neighbors.

Jim and I have not had these experiences in our homes together.

1. Apartment in Denver, CO: We lived there for about two months and never talked to our neighbors.

2. Apartment in Denver, CO: We lived there about two weeks till Jim went to basic training, then I lived there alone for another two months. I knew no neighbors except a guy I had known from church a couple of years before who I didn’t talk to.

3. Apartment in Biloxi, MS: We lived there for about four months and knew no neighbors.

4. Duplex on an AF Base in Altus, OK: We lived there for three years. We shared lawn care with our wall-sharing neighbors, but were never friendly. When one couple moved out I baked cookies for the new couple, but we never hung out. We had to call the cops on them just a couple of months later when the husband started beating the wife, and we never spoke to them again. Most of our friends lived on base, but none close by, and the people we did know on our block were not really hang all the time friends.

5. Apartment on an AF Base in Japan: We lived there for just shy of three years. One of Jim’s coworkers lived in our building until he got divorced and had to move to the dorms. We were sort of friendly with other neighbors, but our immediate next door neighbors moved out when the husband got caught embezzling money from the Comptroller Squadron and his wife transferred without him while he was in jail. And we called the cops on several other neighbors because of noise. A couple on another floor was in our birth class, but we never spoke to them again after what happened happened.

6. House in Norman, OK: Our across the street neighbors were related to some good friends, but hardly spoke to us. The most I ever talked to them was when I locked myself out of the house with Eriana inside and I asked to borrow the guy’s cell phone and then he helped me break into my house. The house next door to him was a family that was nice enough, but their teenage daughter used to come over to ask if she could hold Eriana. And we thought that was weird.

7. Apartment in Beaverton, OR: Our upstairs neighbors are LOUD and oversharers. They are nice, but I know way more than I probably should about their IRS woes, their children, the grandchildren who live with them, the foster child they had for a while, and how much their bills cost. Also they smoke, so they’ve pretty much ruined our ability to use our porch, eat outside, or leave our windows open. Our immediate next door neighbors are lovely, but they’re two ladies in their mid-20s, I think, and they work odd hours (one waits tables and one teaches ballroom dancing), and also we are older and have a kid. Just in different places in our lives. We regularly exchange pleasantries with other neighbors in the complex, but haven’t made friends with any of them.

So eighth time’s a charm? Maybe we’ll have fantastic neighbors at our next place? How about you? Do you want to come be my neighbor?

I have a cute kid who would also be your neighbor.

Do you hang out with your neighbors?


  1. Swistle
    March 28, 2014 11:38

    1. First apartment: A two-apartment house with another young couple in the other apartment. I had a couple of nice conversations with the girl, and I took care of their cats once for a week, but she and her boyfriend had horrible screaming fights almost every night. After awhile they moved out separately, to be replaced with a guy we never saw (NEVER). We only knew he was a guy because the landlord told us.

    2. Second apartment: Five apartments upstairs from some stores. Didn’t know any neighbors. Would say “Hey” if we saw them on the stairs, but that’s it—no introductions, even. The ones on the other side of our wall had a dog that barked and barked and barked whenever they weren’t home, and stopped barking as soon as it saw them pull into the parking lot; we didn’t know what if anything to do about that (did they even know? should we tell them? how to tell them so it didn’t sound aggressive?), so we did nothing. Fortunately we didn’t live there long.

    3. Third apartment: Large apartment complex. Knew one neighbor well enough to chat a bit and for me to babysit for her once, but she was in her 40s and divorced with three kids, and we were early 20s and childless, so it was the different stage of life thing. Then she moved out and we had to call the police once for the new neighbor because the music was on crazy-loud and his front door was wide open and he was lying on the floor where we could see him from the doorway but we couldn’t wake him up (he was okay, just passed out drunk). Slightly friendly with another neighbor, a family with a couple of young kids, but one day we had a weird conversation: she asked when the baby was due (I was pregnant by then), and then wouldn’t believe me that it was my first child. Like, kept saying “But I was SURE you had another!,” enough times and enough different ways and with enough funny looks that it started sounding like she was accusing me of something. I couldn’t figure out what the deal was. The neighbor on the other side was a couple, and the guy tried to get me in some pyramid scheme and just would NOT take no for an answer, so then it was awkward; fortunately we rarely saw them. The guy upstairs must have had exercise equipment or something: it sounded like a washing machine on the spin cycle and it would go on for an hour or more; we never saw him.

    4. Fourth apartment: A two-apartment house with the landlord in the other apartment. He was nice enough but we didn’t ever chat or anything; we left notes if there were any concerns with the apartment. Hostile next door neighbors on one side, constantly complaining about the shared driveway and glaring at us when they saw us. Didn’t know any other neighbors.

    5. House: On one side, we have the kind of neighbors where we don’t hang out or anything, but I instruct the kids to run there if there’s ever an emergency because it would be a good place for that.

    This was really fun!

  2. DeeAnne
    March 30, 2014 06:43

    Hi, T!! The home I lived in from about age 7 to age 20 when I got married was out in the country at the top of a hill and our nearest neighbors were about a third of a mile down the road in either direction.

    My first home when I married was an apartment. It was the last one on the row, and if I remeber right, there was an older lady above us who may have had some grandkids living with her. We only lived there about 2 years.

    Our home since then (about 18 years) has been a house in a neighborhood I affectionately call the Ghetto because this neighborhood is actually built by the Chickasaw, house payment goes by income, there is a trailer park across the street, and things have a way of walking out of our yard. It is still in the same town I grew up in, but I barely know anyone around us. We are ‘keep to ourselves’ kind of people. I have spoken to our neighbor to the left a few times over the years, (again an older single woman) but we have never really been well-acquainted.

    I am pretty sure more people know who we are than we know who they are though, because The Boy has a couple of friends in walking distance and roams the neighborhood freely. He is about to be a teenager, so I’m sure that will be fun. :/

    Good luck with the move! Hope all goes very well.

  3. april
    March 30, 2014 17:53

    1. Apartment in Tampa, FL didn’t know any neighbors.

    2. Apartment in Temple Terrace, FL didn’t know any neighbors but had a friend who lived in another building. He was how we found the complex. Still friends, he’s a good guy.

    3. House in Safety Harbor: didn’t know any neighbors.

    4. House in Palm Harbor: my neighbor on one side was a nosy Nancy (Ned?) who liked to call my landlord on us for zero reason. We had friends who bought in the same neighborhood and we spent a lot of time with them..

    5. Current house: the man to the right is really nice and the kids love to help him garden. The family to our left are fine but we have little in common with. We used to spend a lot of time with them because I wanted so much to have neighbor friends. Then a family moved in down the street that we really hit it off with, and now those are really our only real friends. But they do fulfill that friend role I always wanted in neighbor friends – the wife and I are in book club together and our kids are friends, and we can invite them to dinner or go over there really at the drop of a hat or drop baked goods off at eachother’s houses. They don’t drink though, and we are so used to downtime with adults including alcohol so that was an adjustment.

  4. Andrea
    April 11, 2014 13:31

    Our neighborhood is a dream come true and the thought of ever finding one like it makes me want to insist that DH never look for a different job! Seriously. Next door neighbors have boys in middle/high school who are very respectful and always say hi to my kids. Then within one block there are 9 families with kids second grade or younger. Always someone to borrow baking ingredients from (or a breast pump, pack n play, bike, Easter outfit…) and on any given nice weather day, at least 5 kids outside somewhere playing. The only thing missing is we can’t walk to a park or the school, but we’re right off a bike trail, so at least there’s that.

    I hope you can find something great for your forever home. They exist, and they’d be lucky to have you!

    Want to move to Wisconsin? You’d totally be welcome on our block!!

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