How Much Do You Socialize with Your Neighbors?

Updated on August 13, 2013
S.R. asks from Scottsdale, AZ
29 answers

I usually try to keep a little distance with the neighbors, we do favors like picking up mail when on vacation, but other than that we don't socialize much. My dd used to play with the kids across the street, but they sort of grew apart after they realized they don't have much in common.

Anyway, I wonder if we should make more of an effort...we've lived in the same house for 16 years and aside from a few sqabbles with some kids my dd's age, things have been good. Our downhill neighbor's house is for sale, I wonder if we should make more of an effort when the new folks move in?

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answers from San Francisco on

Are you kidding me? In California, you can live next door to someone for 20 years and never meet them. I couldn't pick any of my neighbors out of a lineup.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have a nod and wave relationship with my neighbors. I nick name them all. Loud motorcycle guy, loud pool family, the junk car family, Timmy's house (Timmy is a dog), Lucy's house (Lucy is a cat), and the old lady. I don't know much about any of them (although I've lived here for 20 yrs) because their lifestyle doesn't really match mine all that much.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We have strange neighbors and nice neighbors.
We socialize with the nice ones and nod to the strange ones!
So...level of socialization is directly proportional to the personalities of the neighbors..not the proximity of their homes.
Get to know the new neighbors a bit and go from there.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I also live in California yet know our neighbors in our court very well.

We help each other out when on vacations, kids all play together if outside, older neighbors down the street have a bucket of treats for the kids that swing by and a bucket of dog treats for the dogs that swing by, a neighbor came by early in the morning in his pj's looking for my husband because a water pipe busted and he couldn't find the source or how to turn it off. Then my husband jumped out of the shower..threw on some clothes and helped...and was a few minutes late to work.

When I miscarried at 5 months along, my neighbors brought meals,flowers and cards. Right next door my neighbor snagged up my kiddos as the ambulance and fire engine were on their way to get me. (I went unconscious due to blood loss) My kids didn't know anything was happening because she helped out. Then she made school lunches for them for the next day knowing I wouldn't be home. She was a lifesaver!

Me personally? I would make an effort with the new neighbors. But that is just how we roll in our family..and in our neighborhood. When we moved in, every neighbor came by with a bottle of wine or some kind of treat to make us feel welcomed. It was so nice...even though we don't drink a lick of alcohol ;) The neighbors hold pool parties or going away parties when people move or kids go off to college.

Another positive thing that comes from knowing your neighbors is the support network for crime prevention. We contact a neighbor if something looks fishy at their house or they leave a garage door up when they left in a hurry. Kids know that they can go to a neighbor's home to call for help.

We aren't pushy, obnoxious or nosey...just care. None of these neighbors are my best of buds...but we know each other and would help out in a pickle.

Be the first to reach out when the newbies move in...and go say goodbye to the neighbors that are moving.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

yes, I believe in creating a fair & equal relationship with my neighbors. Just this week, we had a transportation crisis & my 17yo son went door-to-door looking for a ride back to Band Camp. All of our retired neighbors weren't home, but our new neighbors (last summer) were. They're a group of 25+/- y.o. & they were more than happy to help. Turns out the guy who drove my son to school had been in Band & graduated with my older son. & yes, even tho' I hadn't met him....I have been quite delighted with the other housemates.

& for tomorrow, my younger son was scheduled to work. He's off & going to our family reunion. We need a puppy sitter & we called one of our neighbors. He's our neighbor, a friend for the past 23 years, & our son's Godfather. Neighbors can become friends, & friends can become family. This is how I grew up.....& feel blessed my sons have the same upbringing. :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I also live in California. We live on a cul-a-sac with 7 houses. I know all my neighbors by first name a few by first and last. except one. The only reason I don't know their names is because they moved in within the past 6 months and only speak Spanish. We still say hello when we see each other. We have lived in our house for 6 yrs. I like the fact that I know my neighbors. We are able to watch out for each other and offer a hand when needed.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I love my neighborhood!!!! I think it helps that I have 2 girls who are always running all over the place with all the other kids in the hood. I do bunco once a month with the neighborhood ladies. We all belong to the community pool and most of us are on the swim team. So yeah, we socialize a lot. In fact, swim team ended 2 weeks ago and most of my neighbors have gone on vacation. We're home, and I'm lonely!!! Definitely make an effort to get to know your neighbors. You never know what kind of friends you may make :)

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answers from Denver on

I think it just depends on your comfrot level, and the culture of the neighborhood. We used to live in a cul-de-sac and everyone just 'popped' in on everyone else, and had tons of get togethers, a hugely social group. I kind of hated it. I like my space, and I don't like pop ins. I loved all the people, and usually we went to the get togethers, but I don't miss it at all now that we've moved. Where we are now, I like all of our neighbors, and we are friendly- will chat at the mailbox or while out doing the yard, sometimes the kids will play together. But it just seems that everyone is very busy doing their own thing, and that is just fine with me.

I am so glad we don't have bad neighbors or neighbor disputes. And sometimes I think that is because no one gets too familiar. What's that saying- tall fences make good neighbors? I sort of get that.

So for us, yes- we like our space but appreciate that everyone is friendly enough.

You sound like you enjoy a little distance, so I wouldn't force anything. I would definitely bring over a small gift and introduce yourselves to the new neighbors, and even invite them over if it feels right. But it's ok to just appreciate that you have a nice, quiet neighborhood.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I guess it is whatever works for you and your personality. Our view has always been, if you can't get along with your neighbors, then move.

I guess we are vey fortunate.

We were in the 1st house we built from 1992-2000 and we STILL get together with former neighbors who have since moved and some who are still living in the neighborhood routinely. We made genuine friends. We've even flown to AZ to visit with 1 particular family we are still very close to more than once and they have come here.

Move forward... we built our current house in 2000 when this part of the neighborhood was very new. We are very close with neighbors here as well. The friendships are not as solid as the first home but there are more friendships, we each watch out for each other. We have regular parties which have become quite popular with the rest of the neighborhood. Each Thanksgiving, we have a fun run and after the run, families bring brunch/lunch items and we just have a festive day the weekend before Thanksgiving. In the Spring, we have a crawfish boil and this year, we had about 200 people which expanded to more neighbors and friends within our network. We also do things for Christmas, celebrate 4th of July, and have a fall party.

Our neighborhood itself is huge... The part I am talking about has about 12 base families which get together and put these together. Aside from that, our neighborhood also has spring/fall socials, welcoming parties for new neighbors, and children's events.

My daughter was 5 when we moved here and most of the other children were babies when they moved. My daughter has been a great babysitter for many of the families and made many connections personally which could help her in her future.

Today, as the moving truck was taking my daughter's things out and moving her to her condo (while I am observing because I am still on crutches) , some neighbor girls were crying because she was leaving. She explained that she will only be 20 minutes away and they can visit her anytime. She's already planning a "tea" with 6 of the little girls ages 7-11 when she gets settled in her condo.

So, for us, being an active part of the neighborhood is important. We have met great friends, made good connections and overall we just love our neighborhood and neighbors.

When a house in our area goes on the market, it is usually not on the market longer than 3 days and the last few have had bidding wars in order to secure this location which means the seller is getting well above asking price. We ended up in a bidding war with daughter's condo because of the location, safety and the rare opportunity to secure a condo in that location.

For us.... our neighborhood connections and relationships are "priceless".

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I've never had a conversation and don't even know their names. I couldn't even tell you what one or two of the people look like. I don't need to know neighbors. We never really know the people that live next door, so I think people get a false sense of security.

I like my fences and property lines.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It really depends on the neighbors.
In our first house, we lived there for 17 years and barely knew any of our neighbors.
People were not interested in socializing, and many didn't speak English very well (our neighborhood was like a little United Nations).
We had neighbors from all over the world along with one illegal immigrant flop house down the street (sheets for curtains and the whole house was filled with nothing but mattresses - they sometimes slept more than 50 people there (it was a 3 bedroom house) - police/immigration cleared it out regularly until the property was condemned).
Some mornings you'd wake up to find someone peeing in your rose bed and on weekends there would be empty Corona beer bottles all over the neighborhood.
In our current neighborhood (we are way out in the country now and have a corn field behind us and a soy bean field on one side of us), there are 4 or 5 annual pot luck neighborhood parties a year.
We look after our neighbors chickens when they go on vacation (collect eggs and feed/water them), play with our neighbors dog, trade veggies and herbs from our various gardens, take manure donations from our neighbor who has horses, and chat with people frequently.
We don't live on each others door steps, but people here are a lot more friendly.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We have socialized with our neighbors in the past, and the kids and I visit with one older neighbor, but mostly? I don't actually like my neighbors.

We have nothing in common with them.

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answers from Kansas City on

We have always got to know all of our neighbors, no matter where we have lived. In our current neighborhood, there is something called "women's group". But is isn't really just for the women. We do family BBQ's, bunco, book club, Easter egg hunt, July 4th parade, couples dinner, etc. You get what I mean. It has really helped me to meet my neighbors and get to know some of them. I can't imagine living next to someone for 20 years and not knowing them. That is sad.

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answers from Washington DC on

of course you should try to get to know the neighbors! I really don't understand people who live in places forever and never get to know their neighbors. It's really sad. I know about 5 of my neighbors (I'm in a townhome). We talk at least once a week if not more. We help each other out with babysitting, my next door neighbor let me borrow her car when mine wouldn't start and I needed to pick up my daughter from school. It was winter and so I just asked her if she could watch my younger son so I could run to the school to pick her up (We live close enough to be walkers but it was like 30 degrees out). She said of course I'll watch him, but don't walk, take my car instead!
You need to get to know your neighbors. You never know when you will need them or when they will need help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Why not? They may turn out to be people you will enjoy knowing. And they can't find out how nice you are unless somebody makes the first move.

I think that some folks who talk about wanting to keep their own space are really assuming, "If I reach out to THOSE people, they'll be nuisances in return - or unfriendly - or take advantage of me." But our relatives may act that way, too, right? One learns how to manage relatives. One can do the same with people who live nearby.

There's a big difference between good neighbors and good buddies. Good neighbors know each other's names, respect each other's properties, and help each other when help is needed. A neighbor can sometimes turn into a friend, however.

We moved into our house decades ago. I didn't exert myself to meet the neighbors, simply because I'm rather timid (although I've improved a bit since). What impelled me to *want* to know them better was the Neighborhood Watch Program. When you agree to help keep an eye on things, you start wanting to know who lives around you - by sight and by name, if nothing else.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I would make an effort and then see how it goes.. We've lived in the same house for about 20 years and our next door neighbors moved in about the same time. They have seen our son grow up and just adore him. Every few months they bake him a homemade cheesecake and always bring him a cake for his birthday.. We even bring back small gifts from vacations for them, in particular one of the daughters (she has always made the most effort) However, while there are about 9 people who live next door (yes nine) we are only close to half of them.. I think it just comes down to personalities..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yes, make the effort! I'd seriously be depressed if none of my neighbors socialized with me. I think it is very odd when they don't; not that I expect deep relationships with them all, but chit-chat is very neighborly.

I've been blessed to live between 2 wonderfully social neighbors, but behind me there are 2 families whose faces I never saw until our privacy fence blew over. We replaced that fence with a much lower and open fence, but still, only 1 of the 2 families even acknowledges our presence, and we've been living in this house for over 7 years.

When I was a kid EVERYONE knew EVERYONE in the neighborhood. In fact, my old neighborhood has its own Facebook page and I feel more connected to those people (400 miles away and 13 years removed) than I do to the majority of my present neighborhood.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

We are friendly with our neighbors, but we really don't socialize much. Of course, all of my neighbors are senior citizens. Lol.

The only exception is when my next-door neighbor's grand kids come visit... They like to play with my DD, so we will typically chat away as they play.

IF I had neighbors closer to my age, or with similar interests, I would most likely make more of an effort. Or if they had children close to my DD's age. But honestly, the way I figure it, I am not going to try to force friendship just because of proximity. I think that it's important to be cordial with them... And it is nice to show concern if something unusual happens (like when an ambulance showed up across the street... Turned out a neighbor had a pretty severe seizure, and had to live in a nursing home for several months... So we made a point of checking in on her husband once a week or so with dinner.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

We love our neighbours. They are like parents to us and grandparents to our children. Their son and daughter-in-law have become close friends of ours and their grandsons are our boys closest friends. We have keys to each others houses and we share everything. I feel secure when I am away from home that they are looking after things for us. We socialize, go on outings and share many meals together. The neighbour on the other side is awful, but he just bought the house to flip it so he isn't interested in making friends or being a good neighbour. We know most of the people on our street on a first name basis, and socialize with many of them. Of course make friends with your neighbours. I wouldn't want to live in a place that wasn't a friendly neighbourhood!

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answers from Seattle on

I've lived in the same place for almost 10 years & neighbors have come and gone. Currently my kids are friends with, and I care for, a neighbor boy. My husband & I have tried to at least have a friendship of at least being neighbors but that is not to be. I've realized that, at least around where I live, that unless you are originally from here people don't want anything to do with you. Needless to say that hasn't made me less likely to talk to neighbors. I will when/if possible but I don't go into it with a thought of a possible friendship nor even acquaintanceship developing.

I say make an effort to get to know those around you. You never know what could happen.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

It all depends.
It never hurts to bring them a plate of cookies as a "welcome to the neighborhood." But after that, you have to play it by ear. Who knows who will move in or what lifestyle they lead, or if they want to socialize often with their neighbors or are trying to get away from a neighborhood where everyone was in everyone else's business. You just can't know that until they arrive.

Stop by (briefly) and maybe drop a plate of cookies or some chilled water bottles with a small notepad containing a note (Welcome to the neighborhood! , The Sally R's) and some helpful information (local carryout/delivery numbers; closest grocery store/pharmacy hours; info on what day trash pick-up is; that sort of thing. And of course, your telephone number in case they need anything you can help with. Depending upon how obvious it is, you could say which house is yours ("We're in the brick house at the corner if we can help you get settled in...")

You never know what someone's story is.

As for how much WE socialize with our neighbors? Not all that much. We are very friendly and wave and say "Hi" or chat at the mailbox if someone is out, or we happen to bump into each other at the store or something. But we are all pretty busy coming and going, keeping up with our own lives. We had an annual Homeowner's potluck get-together a few times, but several of the families sold/moved, and there were some renters for awhile in a few homes. We are looking at restarting doing that, as 2 of the homes have now been sold and are occupied by permanent homeowners. (We are a small neighborhood of about a dozen homes).
I chat more with fellow moms with school aged kids than anyone else. And we chat with the teens themselves when they come around. (We have a preteen and a teen ourselves, so they do come around). One of the teens dog-sits for us when we vacation.

We call each other on the phone if there is anything going on with neighborhood stuff: change in the bus schedule for the kids, anything with the postal service, Hey who's doing your lawn work?, Has anyone else noticed ____ or checked on getting it repaired?, that sort of thing.
We're pretty low key. But everyone recognizes each other's vehicles and smiles/waves or waves when out walking/running, or doing yard work, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We're friendly, but not friends. In our previous neighborhood, we lived across the street from children who attended my daughter's private school and were members of our church. It was too much.

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answers from Portland on

I think you should do what works for you. We are very connected with some of our neighbors and have reached out to others.... but one can only extend oneself so far, if you know what I mean. If there's mutual interest, it's easy for neighborhood relationships to flourish. One family on our street is close with ours-- our kids play together sometimes, we get together for snacks and drinks, to watch a show or for something involving the kids. We 'borrow' each others kids as our children are singletons.

It's nice to have connection with the other families too. One came over to bake off her daughter's birthday cupcakes b/c they'd had a fire in their oven a few days earlier. Another mom sometimes needs a helping hand (she has three and lots of stairs in between the car and the house) and I'll watch her brood from time to time. And it was good to have connection with another neighbor family when their grandfather (who suffers dementia) began some inappropriate behavior. Talking to someone about that sort of thing is never easy, but having had previous positive contact with the family probably made things better for both myself and the family-- we are all invested in helping keep grandpa safe. And there are a few elder families in the neighborhood who we stay in touch with, help them out with some yardwork if need be and let them dote on Kiddo with lollipops and such.

You get what you put into it. We have a few more families in the neighborhood that we have enjoyed playdates and birthdays with. We help each other out; water plants or feed the cat if someone is gone, that sort of thing. Even when I lived in apartments, I always usually ended up meeting some of my neighbors. I'm just curious about people, I suppose.

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answers from Dallas on

It's kinda sad how close people live to each other, and yet how little they know of each other. That said, we have had both extremes and try for a little something in the middle. I moved away from my "best friend" who lived a few doors down from me 26 years ago, and we are STILL good friends. A few years ago we moved away from a neighbor friend and we still stay in touch by facebook, texting, and when they come to town we ALWAYS get together. We're planning on visiting them and their new place soon. We met about 3 days after we first moved to their neighborhood when husband, wife, and child came over to say welcome, and we had 2nd children around the same time, we had bbqs, parties, walked to the park, visited in the yard, babysat, helped when someone was sick or injured. It was very nice. We just moved again, 8 days ago, and have exchanged greetings with 2 neighbors, and the neighbor 3 houses down came by with her husband to meet us. It's nice. We are super busy trying to maintain normal summer fun, get ready for school, and unpacking the house, so we haven't gotten together with anyone, but it's very nice to at least meet them and say hello. Get a little feel for who they are. But while actual friendships should happen organically--you either click or you don't--it's still important, in my opinion, to at least have a basic rapport with neighbors. You do have something in common: you're homeowners in the same neighborhood, you both represent facets of the same community.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I am going to sound anti social. We have a great neighborhood. We have a Easter egg hunt every year and a barbecue with a DJ and bounce houses every year but we don't go to those events. I like our neighbors and I speak to them at the bus stop or if we are on the walking trails but they are not in our main social circles. I have a couple groups of friends I regularly get together with and my husband and I have couple friends that we socialize with so we are pretty busy. I guess we just never made the effort to become close to many of our neighbors although I think it would be nice.

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answers from Boston on

I live in a neighborhood where the houses are on top of each other (my 1/3 acre lot is "large" for my neighborhood LOL) and yet we don't really know each other. Part of it is that I'm on a somewhat busy street - it's a side street, but the police and fire stations and three schools are on the next block so we get a lot of traffic. It's not like a cul-de-sac neighborhood. My lot borders 5 others and I know the first names of my immediate neighbors but they are all older folks with grown children so we don't hang out. The two houses across the street from us have kids a little younger than ours so we do socialize for birthday parties, etc. but we all work so we're not having coffee on the front porch every morning. There is another house diagonally across the street where I actually know the parents through friends, and they have kids the same ages as mine, and they have literally never even said hello in 7 years. Very odd. Another diagonal neighbor is a couple with no kids but the guy is always outside so we talk to him all the time. I think I've seen his girlfriend once or twice in 4 years. Beyond that, I couldn't pick the rest of the people on my street out of a line up.

I do find that as my kids get older and more kids walk home from school, they befriend more kids in the neighborhood and then things get more friendly. Most of my oldest son's friends not technically neighbors but live within the same 1/2 mile area. My younger sons are starting to hang out more with kids who live in the area too, which is really nice. From those friendships, I develop friendships with the parents. But my actual neighbors? Not so much, unfortunately.

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answers from Washington DC on

We don't.
We see everyone at supper club once a month. We don't have much in common, but once a month it's fun to catch up.


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Sally:

It is a welcoming feeling when neighbors visit, at least for the first time.

I live in an old neighborhood that is transitioning from the old to the new with parents of young children.

My late husband, 30 years older than I, moved into the house in 1956 with his first wife. Since they had their life together in this neighborhood raising their children with the neighbors', I feel like an outcast.

Take a gift basket, include your name along with the name of your husband and children and the children's ages. Tell them what you know about the neighborhood and community: churches, schools, civic league, and city government, police and your contact number.

Let them know when you may be available if they need further information.

Good luck.


answers from Santa Fe on

We are friends with all our neighbors. We occasionally have people over for dinner. We have a "culdesac block party" each summer where we all grill together and hang out one evening. We stop and chat when we see people out and about. We petsit for each other. The teenage kids babysit for us. One neighbor is usually doing woodworking projects in his garage with the door open and often people congregate there and chat, have a beer, the kids play. The kids ride their bikes together and play. There are about 7 houses on our short street and everyone gets along. There is one house where the person really keeps to themselves and I don't really know them. I believe strongly in being friends with's not like you have to be best friends or anything but just show an interest and be friendly.

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