The Art of Being a Good Neighbor: Insights from a Real Estate Professional
Last week I shared a blog post listing the top 10 contributing factors that make a neighborhood "good."
However, I left you with two questions:
Is a neighborhood as good as the neighbors make it?
And if so, what kind of neighbor are you?
After observing my buyers shop near and far for their next home, I can tell you one common factor that makes a neighborhood most desirable. It's not the fancy amenities or serene walking trails. No, it's friendly neighbors.
Tyson and I purchased our first home in Rexburg, Idaho in 2018. The neighbors were great and the community was overall very welcoming. Our neighbors across the street could have been our grandparents and yet they became our closest friends. We were invited over for Sunday dinners and many sweet, thoughtful gifts were shared our way. Eileen and Doug were the best!
A few weeks after I had delivered our first child in 2019, I got a call from Eileen. She was calling to check on me. Specifically to check on my mental health and any post-partum depression. She wanted me to know that she was there to offer empathetic support. She shared her post-partum experience and explained she was a listening ear if I ever noticed similar struggles. No other individual in my life (besides my mom and doctor) had done this for me. Yet, here was my sweet neighbor calling to support me in my most vulnerable time to make sure I was okay. Although I did not struggle with PPD, my delivery and recovery were terrible and this simple gesture moved me to tears.
Fast forward to 2020. We had recently settled into our new Arizona home and I noticed a neighbor my age out walking her newborn baby almost every day. Every time I saw her I thought, "I should check on her! Hopefully, she isn't struggling with any post-partum depression." Unfortunately, I never did. I assumed because she was out walking that she was doing well! It was also peak COVID so I wanted to give her and her new baby space. I knew these were both excuses to avoid stepping a little outside my comfort zone when the most important thing at the time was to check on a new mama.
Fast forward to 2021 when we finally got around to inviting this family over for dinner. The wife shared with me that she was struggling with post-partum blues and that's WHY she would go on walks with the baby. She expressed that this was a lonely time in her life.
Heart to the dagger.
That was a game-changing moment for me as a homeowner. We, as neighbors, have the opportunity to be friendly angels to those in our immediate community just like Eileen was for me. I vowed to be a better neighbor from that point forward. I also learned a lesson on following the promptings of that little voice.
The Value of Having Good Neighbors:
I have personally been the recipient of having good neighbors while also seeing firsthand in my real estate career the incredible benefits of a community with a strong backbone of "good neighbors."
Having good neighbors can significantly impact both the quality of life and the value of properties in a neighborhood. Several studies and surveys highlight the importance of good neighborly relations. Here are some key findings:
Impact on Property Value: According to a study by the Appraisal Institute, neighborhoods with strong community ties and well-maintained properties can see an increase in property values. Good neighbor relations are often a contributing factor to this.
Community Engagement and Happiness: Research by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that social interactions and community engagement play a significant role in overall happiness. Communities with active and friendly neighbors tend to report higher levels of satisfaction and well-being.
Safety and Security: A report by the U.S. Department of Justice found that neighborhoods with strong community bonds and active neighborhood watches tend to have lower crime rates. Good relationships between neighbors can lead to increased vigilance and a collective sense of responsibility for community safety.
Mental Health Benefits: Studies, including those published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, have shown that individuals with positive neighbor relationships have a lower risk of developing anxiety and depression. Supportive neighbor interactions contribute to a supportive environment, beneficial for mental health.
Longevity: Research published in the journal "Health & Place" found that individuals with strong social ties, including those with neighbors, had a higher likelihood of living longer. This was attributed to the supportive network and the sense of belonging that good neighbor relationships provide.
These statistics and findings underscore the importance of fostering good neighbor relations, not just for the individual benefits but also for the overall health and prosperity of communities. Isn't that incredible?!
How Can We Be Good Neighbors?
Being a good neighbor isn't just about friendliness; it's about fostering a community spirit that naturally makes your neighborhood a desirable place to live. Here are my top tips for being the neighbor everyone wishes they had:
Be Approachable: Step one, greet with a smile. Wave and smile as you drive by, or a warm, "Hey, Neighbor!" as you walk to get the mail. A smile and a friendly hello can brighten someone's day. It’s a simple gesture that goes a long way in making others feel acknowledged while letting them know you're approachable! If you've never met them or you know they are new to the area, introduce yourself! This will kick-start a great foundation for neighborly friendships.
Give Gifts: As a child, I remember delivering Christmas-wrapped Sees Candy boxes to each of our neighbors every holiday season. Dropping off holiday gifts or cookies to new neighbors is a great icebreaker and friendly gesture! This Halloween, my neighbor dropped off a hand-made boo-basket for our girls and it was the most thoughtful gesture! I now feel closer to her and more grateful for our friendship.
Serve: Whether it’s helping someone carry in groceries, take up their trash cans, shovel show, mow their lawn, or offering to watch their house while they’re away, small acts of kindness build strong community bonds. Our Rexburg neighbors were always so generous in shoveling our snow, it was the absolute best!
Share Resources: Lend tools, share garden produce, or exchange books. Sharing not only fosters goodwill but also helps create a sense of community abundance. This principle goes both ways; we will also not hesitate to ask a neighbor for a resource. Asking for help shows that you trust them and feel comfortable enough in your relationship to ask for help. "Can we borrow an egg? I'm one short for this brownie recipe." "Do you have a hammer I can borrow? I can't seem to find mine!"
Share Food: Sharing food is the most effective way to create a bond; it's primal! Babies do it all the time! Our neighbors in Anthem are incredible at this. They will experiment with new a recipe and bring over a serving for us to try. If they have leftover dessert, they will bring over some for our family. This doesn't have to be a full meal or a financial strain, you will be surprised how sharing just a little serving will go a long way!
Organize Social Gatherings: Be the catalyst for community engagement. Host a barbecue, block party, a coffee morning, a playdate, or a neighborhood yard sale. These events are great for getting to know your neighbors better and encouraging neighbors to mingle. As your relationships flourish, you can put together pot lucks, or invite them over for a swim or dinner.
At the root of being a good neighbor is service and giving. It doesn't need to be fancy or costly, it just needs to be genuine.
Remember, a neighborhood is more than just a collection of houses; it’s a community of individuals who share a small piece of the world. As a real estate agent, I’ve seen neighborhoods transform when residents embrace the role of being good neighbors.
By embracing the spirit of friendliness, you're not just creating a pleasant environment; you're investing in the quality and warmth of your community.
Let’s all contribute to making our communities not just places we live, but places we love. Happy neighboring!