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Thoughts For Thursday: I Am Not a Fan of My Neighborhood

July 29, 2010 · 25 comments

in Home & Garden, Thoughts For Thursday

As I have mentioned in a few posts before, I enjoy watching TV while walking on my treadmill in the morning.  Besides getting some exercise, I get the chance to watch some TV shows that I might not ordinarily watch.

So recently, I have been watching ‘Desperate Housewives’.   Of course, I recognize it is television, but I so envy that neighborhood.  Let me restate that, I don’t envy the crime and infidelity, but I envy the beautiful homes and the rapport amongst the neighbors.  (Most of the time…)

I live in a pleasant town that is very safe and has wonderful parks and schools.   When we bought our current house, which is on a cul-de-sac, I envisioned wonderful block parties and neighborly chats in the front yard while the kids played.  Instead, what I found out after I moved in was that all the kids on the street were already grown up and the neighbors  pretty much keep to themselves.  I guess when you buy a house, you never really know what you are getting into.  Sure you can drive around and see how many kids are at the bus stop and such, but unless you know someone that lives on that street, you are kind of moving in ‘blind’.

However, there is also the flip-side of the coin; I could have ended up with a really friendly neighbor that drove me insane, always showing up at my doorstep to share some useless tidbit.   I have seen plenty of crazy neighbors in my life, so quiet can also have it’s place I suppose.

Since so many women work nowadays, do the idyllic neighborhoods as shown on television really exist in many places anymore?   (I am not implying that working women are ruining neighborhoods, I am just saying that often times, nobody is even home during the day.)   I mean, who wouldn’t want to enjoy coffee on the front porch with best friends along with weekly poker games?  All I know is that where I live, the environment is the polar opposite.  How about you?  Do you live in the perfect neighborhood?  Share your situation and make me envious!

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Dianna July 29, 2010 at 8:30 am

A few years ago, my neighborhood was almost like that – several moms sitting on the grass while the kids ran between the yards or rode their bikes back and forth. (Sometimes, wine coolers were involved…) Then one family got divorced (Dad stayed in the house) and one moved to Korea with GM. Just wasn’t the same. Luckily, the family in Korea is moving back this summer but the kids are a lot older now. It was wonderful and I miss it but there are other times that I appreciate the quiet and the doorbell not ringing when I’m trying to get the kids to do something.

I wouldn’t mind living on Wisteria for a little while either… 🙂

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 9:58 am

We would have a great time living on Wisteria together. I’ll take Susan’s house…

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Maggie@SquarePennies September 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm

We had a neighborhood like that too before the kids got big. A fair number of moms did not work outside of the home. Carpools, morning coffee, impromptu picnics, kids playing together all day long. Partly it happened because it was a neighborhood of new homes that got settled at about the same time. We all were looking for new friends among the neighbors. As people moved away it all changed. Having kids about the same age helps a lot, but doesn’t guarantee it. Nobody has time anymore.

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Kris September 9, 2011 at 8:20 am

You are right, nobody does have time anymore. Mom and Dad both work, or mom and dad get divorced and move away, etc. Even when we did have kids in the neighborhood we used to live in the same age as our kids, the parents were nowhere to be seen. They just shoved the kids out the door and that was it.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff July 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

We live in a blue collar subdivision, so anytime I want to chat, I can just walk outside…most of the time someone is sitting in their garage drinking beer. We don’t have a lot in common though. 🙁 I don’t like beer and I don’t smoke, so I feel rude just sitting there with a wine cooler or orange juice from my house and my asthma inhaler in my pocket…

We do have poker nights though (nickel poker with $5 buy-ins) and board gaming potlucks. Having friends over every few weeks is a lot of fun. I can also enjoy the quiet times in between though. 🙂

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm

BFS, I also grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood and everyone was really friendly. Everyone had a front porch they sat on because nobody had air conditioning, so everyone was outside in the summer. I really miss that.

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Little House July 29, 2010 at 12:02 pm

That’s a very good question. I’m a renter, so I think my view of my neighbors and neighborhood is slightly different since I’m not in it for the long-haul. However, in the beginning, one of our neighbor’s was very friendly, and honestly I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to become too attached to the neighborhood because I knew that someday I’d move. We remain friendly, but we didn’t develop a friendship. I also live on a busy street, which limits neighborly conduct. All in all, I think that many couples both work, their children don’t play outside, and it depends on the neighborhood. I remember the neighborhood where I grew up; lots of kids playing outside, neighbor’s were friends, the moms stayed home. I’m not so sure those neighborhoods exist anymore. 🙁

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Little House, it is hard when you know you are kind of in a ‘transient’ situation.

I agree, those idyllic neighborhoods probably don’t exist nearly like they used to. I would pay money to live in one though.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff July 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

I’d sit outside with you and chat up a storm…just convince hubby and the kids that Texas is the place for them. 🙂

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Maggie@SquarePennies September 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Kids are inside playing video games instead of outside playing hockey, baseball, soccer, etc. Organized sports keep everyone busy. Also it seems less safe to let the kids play outside.

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Kris September 9, 2011 at 8:19 am

Maggie, I don’t know if it really is less safe now than it used to be, or if things are just reported more. Where I grew up, we played outside all the time. However, there was a murder in the park down the street from my house and two kids were kidnapped within a mile of my house growing up. Playing outside is just what you did. However we were generally always in groups playing sports or whatever. But I was never afraid to play outside alone either. I guess it is all perspective and location.

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Lola July 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

We’ve lived in our neighborhood for 20+ years, and it’s been idyllic for raising our kids. We have a nice park, pool, and a library all within a 5-10 minutes walk, and there are other places within walking distance. The neighborhood was mostly built up in about 7 or 8 years from the late 70’s, so it’s nice, fairly upscale, I’d say, with a lot of houses that are 2500-3500 sq. ft, all with attached garages, but not that McMansion style of neighborhood (we’re allowed to park overnight on the street, which the newer neighborhoods around here do not allow; also, we don’t have to have a certain kind of mailbox!). The schools are all really good, too. We have a volunteer neighborhood association which runs pretty well – I was very involved in it for many years and had some interesting experiences in dealing with neighborhood issues (!). I don’t see neighbors as much as I used to, now that I work full time (for instance, I can’t go to or host the monthly brunch anymore). With our kids and other family all out of town, we travel a lot more on weekends to go see them. I do know all my neighbors and a little bit about them, their kids, etc. We chat occasionally when we happen to meet up outside or at the grocery, but there’s no fluid interaction a la TV. Still, I think you would really love it here!

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Lola, you are right, I would love it there. There just isn’t any sense of community where I live now. It is pretty much pull in the garage, shut the garage door, and be in for the night. I think my kids are the only ones outside on a regular basis, and I see that everywhere.

Enjoy what you have Lola, and thanks for visiting!

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Cindy July 29, 2010 at 3:41 pm

My neighborhood is similar to the one you described in your post. Occasionally, our next door neighbors will invite us over for a swim in their pool because our kids sometimes play together outside on hot days. But most of the time it’s quiet and everyone keeps to themselves. Our old neighborhood was lower middle class starter-type homes, but the people were so much more friendly!! If I could move the house I’m in now to that location, I would!!

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Cindy, I agree. The smaller-home neighborhoods do seem friendlier, and I don’t know why. As I responded in a previous comment, we didn’t have central air where we grew up, so everyone was outside all summer long. Plus, our houses were practically on top of each other, so you could easily talk to your neighbor with no effort at all. Maybe I need to be more friendly myself, maybe I am part of the problem.

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finallygettingtoeven.com July 29, 2010 at 10:31 pm

When I was growing up we had the ‘ideal neighborhood’…block parties, kids everywhere, parents friends. But I think you are right, all the moms were home all day and had the time.

Fast forward to adulthood and I have lived about 10 places in different towns and although I have always been friendly will all the immediate neighbors and occasionally one or two would get together for this or that for the most part everyone just keeps to themselves and lives out their busy lives.

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Kris July 30, 2010 at 8:36 am

FTE – Don’t you miss that childhood neighborhood, or is it just me that yearns for that?

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics July 29, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I am one of those people ruining the neighborhood 😛 (I know you didn’t say that). I live in an apartment complex, a fairly upscale complex. As a result, there are lot of temporary corporate housing folks living here. I would talk to someone, try to get friendly, then the next week they move 🙁

Also I am an introvert myself, so I have to really push me. I did too… Until I had 2 bad experiences. The first time, the person was very nice. I saw them walking their dogs when I was in my patio, so I said hi, talked to them, baked cookies, we had dinner together… everything was great… Then she started talking about her church and why I should go to their church.. it wasn’t a suggestion, it became positively annoying. Every single minute I was home she would bring me some sermon CD for me to listen, say that I am a devil worshiper (!) because I wasn’t going to the right place… I started hiding from her 🙁 really… I would walk around a few buildings to avoid their patio. Then we moved… We ended up next to a MLM person 🙁 My husband had to tell her to stop recruiting me…I just kept trying to tell her politely that I am not interested and ended up making myself miserable…I think it is my luck… Now I am really scared to approach someone. I make my husband go talk to them and everything. If he thinks they won’t try to push me into something, then I try. I know it sounds silly, but I don’t know what else to do (Sorry for the rant, just thought I should defend “me” 🙂 )

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Kris July 30, 2010 at 8:40 am

Suba, it is try, sometimes the really ‘friendly’ ones truly have an agenda, and it is hard to tell which is which! I can see where you got scared. I am sure it was extra frustrating since you are an introvert yourself.

Thanks for the MLM clarification! Since I have an MLM degree, I would hate to think of all the people that were afraid to live next door to me! hee hee

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics July 30, 2010 at 12:01 am

After posting the comment, I thought I should clarify something. What I meant by MLM was Multi-Level Marketing – Amway/Quixtar types. Not Materials and Logistics Management 🙂 . Sorry!

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Mike - Saving Money Today July 30, 2010 at 10:12 am

For the most part my neighborhood is pretty quiet. We’re always coming and going so there’s not a lot of interaction other than a quick chat here and there.

A few of the neighbors who have lived here for a long time are closer and hang out together but they’re all older than us and we really don’t have anything in common.

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Divine and Debt Free July 31, 2010 at 7:11 am

I had that kind of neighborhood growing up but not as an adult. I recently was with a friend and I wanted to walk and talk on my cell phone outside this particular neighborhood. The people were sooooooooooo friendly kept waving to me as if I lived around there. I thought it was the coolest thing because you just dont get that anymore.

Then I went driving to a rich neighborhood (i like to dream lol) and no one was outside. But then again it would be odd sitting outside on the porch of a mansion lol.

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Revanche August 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Neighborhoods are sort of evolutionary, I think. My parents’ neighborhood is becoming much more open and friendly now that families with children are moving in a couple rentals. Before it was only my next door neighbor that would have the kids out in the yard, or hang out chatting and you could stop and say hello and chitchat with her.

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Cordelia September 1, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Hi Kris,

I once wrote a response to your post regarding buyers remorse. We moved from a nice upscale subdivision three years ago. It was not that friendly with a lot of people just driving into their garage. I had very small kids at the time and I stayed home. I remember being so lonely. My parents lived out of town.
Once I went back into the work force and became busy I didn’t care about the neighbours. They were all friendly enough but as I was just as tired after coming from work I didn’t feel the need for a lot of chatting.

We now live about 10 minutes away from that subdivision in a small village. The houses are on large lots with long deep driveways. You don’t really see most of the houses so you don’t even see the neighbours as you pull in. I thought I would feel really isolated but I really like it. I could be out there in my pyjamas gardening and nobody sees me. I thank god I have a job though or else I might feel differently.

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Kris September 2, 2011 at 11:48 am

Cordelia, I think working does make a huge difference. When you have no spare time, you tend to want to get outside and just get things done, as opposed to getting caught up in conversation. However, when you are home more, it can get lonely. However, I lived somewhere once where I had the opposite problem, too many kids always around. I love kids, but these parents would just send their kids over to my house so they could do whatever they wanted, and that really got on my nerves. The minute I opened the garage door and pulled in, a ton of kids would suddenly be in my front yard.

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