Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

idyllic backyardMr PoP and I are truly spoiled by the peacefulness and tranquility of our little suburban neighborhood.  Seriously.  I’m sitting here on a Saturday on our back patio looking out over the little lake in our backyard and across into the yards of the half dozen or so other homes that share our lake pond as a backyard.  (The internet tells me it’s a pond, but our realtor called it a lake – that must mean “lakes” sell better than “ponds”.  Pardon me if I use these interchangeably.)

Growing up, this kind of set up was foreign to me.  I couldn’t imagine a backyard without walls, usually cinderblock, that rose any less than six feet out of the ground with thick mesh metal gates locked with padlocks.  You know, to keep people out.  Because other people are all bad and must be kept out at all times… or at least that’s the impression those walls leave me with when I think about them today.

Our current backyard setup would have seriously weirded me out as a kid, but I don’t know how to describe it … sharing space with our neighbors just seems natural now.  After all, “no man is an island entire of itself”.

Had to walk into our neighbor's yard to get a good shot of this roseate spoonbill.  I love these birds!  So pink!

Had to walk into our neighbor’s yard to get a good shot of this roseate spoonbill. I love these birds! So pink!

We don’t have an HOA or any crazy governing board telling us what we can and can’t do (other than the basic laws of our town), but we manage to treat everyone’s home and space with respect.  Sure, there’s a “party house” across the way that seems to throw a shindig on their back patio every weekend during football season, but they never get overly rowdy or stay outside past the game’s end.  And sometimes the guys (young and old) that start fishing from their backyards end up wandering through everyone’s yards along the edge of the lake trying to get a bite at the end of their line.    No harm done.  I’ve wandered into other peoples backyards to get better pictures of some of the cool birds that come to the pond, too.  (Oh yeah, and I’ve gleaned our neighbor’s bananas from their backyard… but I have permission to do so now!)

That’s about as wild as things get here.  Mostly, we all keep to ourselves and it works really well.

But Change Is In The Air

Our beloved 94-year-old neighbor, N, is selling her house.  We knew it would happen eventually, considering she moved into a nursing facility after a stroke a couple of years ago and the house has mostly just been used by her children as a vacation place since then.  But it’s still a bit disappointing to lose such a great neighbor*, and when I’m being honest with myself, a little scary.

So much of our quality of life in this little house rests on the fact that we’re surrounded by good neighbors that I’m a bit apprehensive about who will end up in N’s place.  And my fear isn’t unprecedented.  Apparently the neighbors (as N ‘fessed up to us one night over a glass of wine!) were a little nervous about us (a newlywed 26-year-old couple!) when we moved in 5 years ago .  The previous owners of our place (the ones that lost their house because they bought a pool) had been “less than neighborly” over the years and they were hoping for a better replacement.  (By all accounts we’ve been better than the folks that lived here before us, which is a relief.)

Now with N’s house up for sale, the shoe is on the other foot – and it’s me that’s being a bit of a creeper peeking through the front windows whenever I hear a car door slam to check out all of our prospective neighbors.  (And boy have there been quite a few of them stopping by to look at the house in just the few days it’s been on the market!)

What Kind of Neighbors Do We Want?

Of course we don’t get to control what kind of neighbors we end up with.  Theoretically, we could buy the property and rent it out and control it that way, but it’d be a waste of money since it would never rent at a high enough price to turn a profit given the price N is asking (and judging by the interest they’ve gotten so far I’ll be surprised if they don’t get it).  But after reading about the 1500’s new neighbors, we have a pretty good picture of who we don’t want moving next door.

The thing is… we’re not really sure who we want to move next door.

  • young or old**?
  • an introvert or an extrovert?
  • a dog person or a cat person?
  • someone outdoorsy or more of an indoor-person?
  • retired or still working?
  • someone who DIYs or someone who hires out everything around the house?

I really don’t know what our “perfect neighbors” would be like.  So for now I’m just peeking out our front windows hoping we end up with someone who really is a going to make me want to sing:

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?


What’s your idea of a perfect neighbor?  Who would you be hoping to move in next door if you could choose?  


* N was seriously an amazing neighbor.  I’ll never forget being dog-tired absolutely starving the day we moved in and when this little 89-year-old lady showed up at our door with fresh baked banana bread, napkins, and a plastic knife to cut it and dig in.  Perfect neighbor from day 1!

** Given that the median age of our town is mid-50s, and that ours isn’t the cheapest neighborhood around, it’s pretty likely that we’ll continue to be the youngest homeowners in our neighborhood.  But if we’ve learned nothing living in FL, it’s that the words “old” and “young” are very relative!

53 comments to Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

  • As we set in for another MN ice cold winter, FL sounds better and better every year. :-) Hoping you get some wonderful neighbors who will join you in your frugal-loving, wealth-building journey. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Saturday Morning Ramble: Homesteading In WinterMy Profile

  • Good neighbors are so important! We feel extremely fortunate to have mostly awesome neighbors–very important for us in the city since our houses are about 5 inches away from each other :). Our closest neighbors have become great friends and we swap dog sitting all the time. I hope someone awesome moves in next to you!
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..September 2014 ExpendituresMy Profile

  • I hope someone normal moves in! My worst fear is always someone with lots of outdoor pets or someone who makes no effort to take care of their yard. We were really lucky at this house- our next door neighbors are ideal. The only problem is, the guy to the left of us owns a landscaping company called “Meticulous Landscapes” and his yard really does look meticulous. His grass doesn’t even look real! It makes us feel inadequate.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Why We’re Opting Out of ObamacareMy Profile

    • Normal would definitely be good… though I’m not sure we classify as “normal” so that might be too high of a bar for the neighborhood already. =)

      Love that your neighbor is a professional landscaper – all the more reason not to worry about your yard, since no matter what you do his will be better.

  • “So much of our quality of life in this little house rests on the fact that we’re surrounded by good neighbors that I’m a bit apprehensive about who will end up in N’s place.”

    Yes, this is exactly right. Good neighbors will become good friends and help out in a pinch. Horrific ones will make your life miserable.

    Our worst wasn’t actually our current one. About a decade ago, we lived in a ritzy area. The home prices were all around 400K, so I thought all the people living around us would be decent people. Wrong! The guy next to us was a raging alcoholic. On the weekends, he’d stumble out of his car (so drunk could barely walk) with a bag from Taco Bell and yell loudly and no one in particular. His 3 daughters would run around wild while he drank. One day, the ice cream man came and he went running out the door in his underwear to catch him. This wasn’t the worst part though.

    One day, they got a dog. The family would all go to work or away for the weekend and just stick the dog in the backyard. There, it would bark nonstop for the entire time (dogs never lose their voices apparently). We tried to talk to the neighbors and they were angry and belligerent: “Our dog must go outside to pee!” That left us with no choice but to call the police. That took care of the problem, but I’m sure they hated us after that. No problem, we didn’t like them either. Soon after, we moved and that was the end of that.

    One thing I like to watch for when buying a house is the percentage of rentals nearby. Rentals aren’t bad if the landlord is a good guy. However, a slumlord type who is in it for cash flow only and won’t put more than a dime into the property is a recipe for problems. This is why we now have bad neighbors across the street.

    Anyway, hope your new neighbor is better than mine.
    Mr. 1500 recently posted..Ask the Readers: Do you have a sibling schism?My Profile

    • I feel so bad for the dogs in these scenarios – how boring must it be to live your life chained outside of a house in the heat!?! I’d bark out of boredom and annoyance if that were the case, too!

      Our neighborhood has some rentals, but not too many. I can think of 2 (maybe 3?) on our street with ~30 houses and they tend to be pretty long term renters. With the exception for houses like ours that were bought during the crash (or ones bought a VERY long time ago), it’d be hard to make the rental numbers work here because prices in our neighborhood these days are definitely more than the rent you could get.

  • Our ideal neighbour would be someone with kids around the same age as ours. The house across the street is for sale, but it’s a rare bungalow in our neighbourhood, so I don’t have high hopes. We got a new neighbour next door too. He’s the type the mows our front yard before we can get to it making us feel pretty tiny.
    CheapMom@SimpleCheapMom recently posted..The No-Electric Dryer: Part 1My Profile

    • What’s a bungalow?

      If Mr PoP mowing the lawn once a week isn’t enough and our neighbors ever want to mow our lawns, by all means, they should go for it! I’m pretty sure Mr PoP wouldn’t complain!

  • I hope you get some great neighbors! We are lucky in that all of our current neighbors are great. We used to rent a house before we bought our current one and ALL of our neighbors were horrible. We had a felon who often had the SWAT team surrounding/hiding around our house to prepare to go to his, we had a crazy lazy whose dog would often bite us in the butt (not in a playful way!), an extreme hoarder who LITERALLY had a junk yard in their backyard, and others. AH! Good luck :) Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you haha
    Michelle recently posted..$15,272 in September Online Income – Outsourcing and Passive IncomeMy Profile

  • The bird is so cool!
    Living by a lake, it does feel weird to have your property open like that, but it is a good feeling. Fishermen often come along the shore to gather bait and that’s fine, as long as they don’t disturb my animals.
    I would love to have more neighbors, having no one half a mile around on each side, it can get lonely. Ideally they would have that perfect balance of knowing when to come over for a beer and keeping their distance.
    Pauline recently posted..What do you get for $250k, $500k, $750k or $1m in Guatemala?My Profile

    • The roseate spoonbills are so cute – some of my favorites. And like flamingos, they are pink because of what they eat – in this case a lot of shrimp!

      I can see how no-one for half a mile would be a bit on the quiet side – nice sometimes, but perhaps a little too much at other times. How close will other houses be when you build the next place you’re planning?

  • We’re moving to a new house end of the month, our ideal neighbours would be someone around our age have have kids. Ideally the neighbours would have similar interests as us so we can have easy conversations.

    I hope you will get some great neighbours.
    Tawcan recently posted..September dividend updateMy Profile

    • Thanks, Tawcan. I’m not sure I’d be super crazy about having kids move next door… maybe if they’re nice quiet ones that don’t scream or cry it’d be okay. =)

  • We mostly keep our distance from our neighbors. Occasionally they’ll come by to give us tomatoes (yay) or children’s toys (yay) or clothing (yay) or to ask us to pray for someone or to try to sell us insurance. Most of our neighbors are a lot older than we are and at different points in their lives.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Academic side hustlesMy Profile

    • definite yay for tomatoes, and definite nay to selling insurance. That’s a mixed bag. =/

      Most of our neighbors are a LOT older than we are and definitely at different points in their lives, but it’s pretty nice. They can still mix a mean Halloween-night margarita even if they’re a good decade or two (or 3 like N!) older than our ages added together!

  • Change is scary. Especially when things are going so well. It’s tough also when it is out of your control, all you can do is smile and hope for the best I suppose.
    Even Steven recently posted..The Great Debate: Hourly vs SalaryMy Profile

  • Honestly, both those things sound weird to me – big walls around your yard, as well as sharing land with neighbours.

    I was thinking the other day about the types of environments I’ve lived in and what I expect/hope for for myself and my own family in coming years. In Kuala Lumpur we lived in a terrace house with a small fenced yard. In Auckland I grew up in a standalone house. I’d love to have the same for my own kids but that is slipping so far out of reach.
    NZ Muse recently posted..Why I’m way more worried about buying a house than retiringMy Profile

    • “Honestly, both those things sound weird to me – big walls around your yard, as well as sharing land with neighbours.”

      It definitely is two pretty extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to what a backyard can be like. =)

  • Oh, and that neighbours are a big part of what would put me off denser living (aside from the fact I do not want to buy a terraced house because townhouses here are 99% shoddy/leaky)
    NZ Muse recently posted..Why I’m way more worried about buying a house than retiringMy Profile

    • Real estate in Auckland sounds so nuts – have you ever considered leaving the city because of it? A woman in my office is from Auckland and they moved to the US to raise their kids here in part because they felt like it was more affordable.

  • I hope you guys get great neighbors ! Your backyard looks so peaceful – it looks like a spa at a resort. So lucky to have a lake too!
    Ciel Belle recently posted..Week 18 : $19k and counting downMy Profile

  • Kim

    Good neighbors certainly can make or break liking where you live. Our old neighborhood was OK, but there was a couple with several children who blared teenager music really loud every night. I think that’s why we wanted some land with our current house. We have awesome neighbors now, but our favorite ones are going to move in a couple of years and we’ll be in your situation. Pins and needles to see who takes their place. I hope you get some good ones. I don’t think age or many of those other things matter as long as you respect and communicate.
    Kim recently posted..Things Everyone Should Do Before Turning 30My Profile

    • “I don’t think age or many of those other things matter as long as you respect and communicate.”
      I think you’re probably totally right.

      Fingers crossed for you guys in a few years when your favorite neighbors move away! Though by then your daughter might be getting close to being the teenager blaring music that everyone is watching out for. =)

  • Oh wow, I have so much to say on this subject! At our last place, we lived next door to a burglar, and across the street from a family who liked to yell at each other most nights between 12am-2am. (Funnily enough, they weren’t fighting…that just was what time one of them got home from work, so he’d pull up in his car blasting loud music, and they would proceed to have yelling conversations with one other). It was a terrible neighborhood, and there was only one family on the whole block that we genuinely liked. When we were shopping for houses, we would joke as we looked at the neighborhoods, “Does it look like a burglar lives here?” because after living next to a burglar, anything (other than a murderer) is a step up!

    Now in our current neighborhood, we LOVE our neighbors! We’ve been here less than a year, and there’s been a lot of change, but none of the change has been bad. On our block 2 new families have moved in (there are only 8 houses on our block, so that’s a big percentage), and across the street 2 more new families have moved in (out of 4 homes across the street). Everyone is nice and considerate. The “worst” neighbors just kind of keep to themselves, while the best are friendly. We love it. However, with 4 new families in the neighborhood, we’ve gone through a lot, but it’s all gone well, so rest assured that change isn’t always bad!
    Becky @ RunFunDone recently posted..Free Floors!My Profile

    • A burglar? How did you know?

      So glad that you’re loving your new neighborhood – with a community that small it doesn’t take many bad apples to spoil it. =)

  • PK

    I’ve got nostalgia for the no fences back yard – for some of my childhood we lived in a Town House with a shared backyard, which just seems natural. Back east, the property lines where my parents ended up are demarcated by stones – one neighbor has an informal ‘tree fence’ (lower altitude) and the other neighbor has no fence at all, except around their pool.

    In California? Everything is demarcated with uniform fences and you have to defend your exposed lawns from neighborhood animals.

    Maybe you’ll get a blogger next door?
    PK recently posted..A Collection of Peers: How Work and School Choice Affects Total IncomeMy Profile

  • Oh Gosh, I’ve been through this quite often. We currently rent, and one of the other units has started to rotate a bit. It’s not as permanent as your situation where you own, but we do share walls, and don’t want bad neighbours that close by. We look to have a good neighbour now, but it’s been hit and miss.

    Here’s hoping you get a good one!
    Alicia recently posted..Down to One Creditor Par-TayMy Profile

    • Thanks Alicia! We had some pretty weird neighbors when we were renters… I think my favorite were the downstairs neighbors at Mr PoP’s old apartment. We overheard the mom talking to the elementary school aged daughter as they waited for the school bus one morning, “Now be a good girl today… and for god’s sake keep your shirt on!” =!

      • Wow! that is an interesting one Mrs.PoP. Don’t know whether I should say poor girl or poor mom.

        We are currently renters and just thinking about having bad neighbors makes me think. YUP no way buying a house in California. Houses are right on top of each other. Might as well rent. But being a renter can suck so bad

        Just 2 days ago the manager came over to the kids playing ball. My son included and told us we can’t do that. WTF?… It seems ridiculous especially since they let people smoke!!! Bah HUMBUG!

        Still i’ll be excited to buy a house someday
        The Roamer recently posted..A Wedding or A Marriage? Part 1My Profile

  • Our neighbours have a karaoke machine which they crank up to full volume on hot summer nights. You can imagine our joy when the weekend comes around and we hear them warming up to serenade us into the night and usually into the early hours of the next morning…

    I hope you have better luck than we did. Or at least that your new neighbours can carry a tune.
    Myles Money recently posted..Happy Birthday To Me!My Profile

    • Oh that’s so awesome! Some of the folks down the street from us seem to have friends that bring guitars and microphones over every so often for parties in their backyard and you can hear it from the street… the singing isn’t terrible, but I’m pretty glad we’re far enough down the block we can’t hear it from our backyard.

  • Got a little sad seeing the Mr. Rodgers intro…I loved that guy.

    I bet you guys end up with a good addition. I get the feeling that people assimilate into the area they move to, rather than influence it, so to speak.
    Done by Forty recently posted..When Sunk Costs HelpMy Profile

  • Ohhhh how I hate it when houses go in the market here in the ‘hood. Problem here is this is probably the last middle-class neighborhood in our centrally located district. Because it’s sandwiched between Richistan and an alarming slab of slum, prices are somewhat depressed, which means that if a house is run-down or has been occupied for the past 30 years by someone who never updated it, the…uhm…riff-raff can get in.

    It really does feel so destabilizing when a reliable, good, quiet neighbor puts a house on the market. Good luck in the draw.
    Funny about Money recently posted..A Historic Moment in Gasoline Pricing?My Profile

    • haha, I think that’s probably partially what the neighbors were afraid of when we moved in. The market had tanked and the values had dropped by about 50%, and all the sudden young kids could afford to buy next door. Oh no! But it worked out for the best… and prices have climbed a good amount since then, so it’s definitely not cheap the way it was when we bought.

  • We actually share a house with neighbors. We are on the top and they are on the bottom with separate entrances so I was really worried about them. They are a mostly quiet family who keep to themselves though but their kiddos are pretty loud. Ours our too though so I can’t complain!

  • We used to have a great next door neighbor that we’d become friendly with and would have meals with on occasion. It was a sad day when he moved and nerve wracking too since we didn’t have high hopes for the next set of renters. We’re lucky as it turns out, they’re a but loud but generally pleasant unlike the nearby neighbors. One are afraid of dogs and instead of standing back for a second and giving us our space when we walk by all unsuspecting with our very well trained dogs who have zero interest in them, would screech like banshees and scare the crap out of both of us. Or the other ones who leave their poor dog outdoors or cooped up so that it barks 18 hours a day. I feel bad for the dog but want to kick the owner. Can you imagine being locked on a 2 by 3 foot balcony in all weather day to night? And they think that’s appropriate treatment for their dog. Ugh.
    So I can never decide if I want to hope for the neighbors we never hear or see or push our luck and hope for neighbors we could socialize with on occasion.
    Revanche recently posted..Just a little (link) love: Bedhead editionMy Profile

    • Oh the poor dogs! We had a neighbor that locked 4 small chihuahuas out for hours on end and they would bark and bark, but it was hard to blame the dogs since they were probably just hot and uncomfortable chained up out there!

  • We aren’t too close to our neighbors, but close enough where we’ll have the occasional at-home dinner together or to look after the place if the other is away. That tends to be my ideal, though we’re also in an area with a lot of renters since it’s close to the bay. There’s HOA so the noise tends to at least be limited at night, but some areas end up not being cared for as much. I hope your next neighbor is a great one!
    anna recently posted..Pregnancy Notes Round 2!My Profile

  • The best way to get a good neighbor is to be one. We had a crabby old lady next door To us that would call the cops on people’s dogs and was a big complainer. She was always nice to us though because we did 3 things. We picked flowers out of our yard and gave her home made bouquets. We would shovel snow from her doorway to her garage, and we picked up fallen branches in her yard after storms. She was always nice to us and chose to terrorize the other neighbors instead. My moms neighbors were always nice to her, so this was my way of paying it forward and it had other side benefits as well.
    First Gen American recently posted..Babci’s New Kitchen and Kitchen Design TipsMy Profile

    • I think you’re probably right to a large extent and hopefully we’ve started off on the right foot. We met the current prospective owners (offer accepted, still in inspection period) this weekend when they were poking around the side of the house inspecting the pool heater. They seemed really nice and were glad that we poked our heads out and said hello and introduced ourselves. With no snow to shovel and few flowers in our yards in these parts, hopefully that’s a pretty good start. =)

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