Do you know your neighbors' names?
Here’s a thought for you. Think back to the last time you had to ask your neighbor for a favor. How far back do you have to go? A few weeks? Months? For me, I have to go back seven months, and before that, I honestly have no idea. That’s about 13 years of semi-independence essentially ignoring those who, for all intents and purposes, basically share the same living space.
And it’s not because I’m a bastion of independent living either. I’ve never even successfully run a bleach cycle in my washer.
The truth is that no matter how much we idolize the wholesome, communal spirit of the Leave it to Beaver-era, we simply don’t depend on our neighbors as much as we used to. Out of sugar? Most of us will happily pay the $5 Postmates delivery fee to avoid five minutes of small talk. If there’s a transaction that requires personal interaction, there’s an app for it.
In keeping with this week’s theme, Be a Good Neighbor, we decided to ask you, our users, about how well you know your neighbors.
As it turns out, a surprisingly high number of people don’t know their neighbors at all, with 30% of respondents reporting that they don’t even know their neighbor’s names. For the 70% of folks out there who have the luxury of actually knowing their neighbors, 16.25% say that they interact with their neighbors on a daily basis, with most reporting that they interact on a weekly (43%) or monthly (33%) basis. Unsurprisingly, knowing your neighbors by name is strongly correlated with an interest in knowing them at all, with 88% of respondents claiming that having a good relationship with their neighbors is at least “somewhat important.”
Although actual, physical proximity didn’t seem to factor into the equation, with 79% of those who know their neighbors by name live in single-family homes rather than condos or townhomes (maybe a little breathing room makes it easier to actually get along with your neighbors). 70% of all respondents own their home.
Interestingly, respondents who don’t know their neighbors are more likely to rent and tend to interact with their neighbors only a few times a month. They also, predictably, account for a higher number of respondents living in condo/apartments than in single-family homes.
How much of this is due to the fact that they rent rather than own, however, is unclear. Perhaps due to the relatively transient nature of renters, maybe the time and energy it takes to get to know your neighbors doesn’t seem like a wise investment. But that’s speculation.
There is, however, a very strong correlation between owning your home and knowing your neighbors by name. When the data is isolated to just those who responded that they own their home, over three quarters of them said that they know their neighbors by name.
Surveys and think pieces have long lamented the demise of personal interactions, pretty much from the minute the iPhone was announced in 2007. The decline in personally knowing your neighbors has been studiously tracked over the years by Pew, and has been blamed for everything from a higher rate of heart attacks to the literal demise of democracy.
If you believe all the hype, then do your part and say hi and wave to your neighbors, because Rome is on fire.
But according to our data, the situation isn’t quite so bleak. Nearly 70% of all respondents said that they knew their neighbors by name, versus the 50% or so in other surveys. Another recent poll found that 35% of us never interact with our neighbors, with a paltry 20% having done so at least once.
Neighborhoods.com users, I suppose, are a much more social bunch. While only 13% of respondents interact with their neighbors on a daily basis (which is still impressive), a whopping 70% said that they interact with their neighbors on either a weekly or monthly basis.
So while it might feel cathartic to wax poetic about the fragile state of interpersonal relationships and to mourn the ascendance of online communities (online communities, it should be noted, can also be an overpowering force for good), most people do find inherent value in knowing their neighbors.