I Never Thought I Needed Neighbors

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I never thought I needed neighbors. I thought the idea of neighbors in the traditional sense, you know, the Mr. Rogers kind, was a relic from another age. Back when people baked their own bread and had to physically go to the grocery store if they needed an egg, it made more sense to borrow one from Mrs. Cleaver next door. I get that. But now, we can have our groceries delivered to our counter if we’re in a pinch. And our social circles are available on our phones 24/7. So, what else are neighbors good for these days?

Growing up, we never lived in an addition or subdivision. My family lived in homes far enough apart from others that I never had “neighborhood friends.” I remember hearing about other kids riding bikes around their neighborhoods together or popping over to a neighbors house to play after school until dinner. But it wasn’t something I ever experienced or even thought much about. I definitely didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I had a brother, cousins, school friends, and church friends, after school activities, church events. It was enough. It was a lot, actually. We spent a lot of time in the car, and my mom was basically a full-time chauffeur, now that I think about it.

After college, I got married, and we got an apartment. I never met any of our neighbors. The sum total of my effort to connect was a smile and a nod in the breezeway while I got the mail. Everyone was busy and young and transient.

A few years later, we moved to an established housing addition in the suburbs. When we were searching for a home, the neighbor vibe wasn’t on my radar. I wanted a fenced in backyard and a garage. We had a dog, and no kids, busy social lives, and friendly neighbors just weren’t a priority. Our neighborhood was all older, quiet singles or couples; it had the feeling of a retirement community.

Then came the big move to the country. We bought 10 acres of farmland, and that’s where I ended up staying and raising my daughter as a single mom for almost a decade. Looking back, I should have gotten out of there sooner. It was beautiful and peaceful, but it was lonely. Far away from friends and any social scene, we found ourselves driving to find community… again.

Fast forward to 2 years ago during a lunch date, when my realtor husband saw a home that fit our budget and desires pop up on the market. We scheduled a quick showing and immediately placed an offer. By 9 pm, we were under contract. We loved the yard, the area, the square footage, and the price. We knew next to nothing about the neighborhood itself, the community, or what mix of people lived here. Boy, were we in for a surprise.

I joined the neighborhood Facebook page and immediately discovered we had fallen into the closest knit community of neighbors I have ever even heard of. These neighbors were involved, communicative, supportive, always willing to lend a hand.

Did a tree fall on your mailbox? Never fear, Dean will be right over with his chain saw.

Are you sick or recovering? Don’t worry about dinner. Nicki will drop something off at 5 for your family.

Do you need to borrow jumper cables? An air compressor? Mole traps? Matt is gonna walk ‘em on down tonight and share a beer while it all gets fixed up.

Anybody bored on a Friday night? Bring the kids to play and a dish to share. The Yeadons are watching the big game, and everyone’s invited.

I’ve got a text thread a mile long filled with support and laughs from all the other moms in the neighborhood; women who aren’t just on the other side of the phone screen. They’re on the other side of the screen door.

Around 11 pm one night this past fall, the neighborhood moms got a text from a pregnant mama who needed to go to the hospital with early contractions. I was able to be on her porch in 5 minutes, so her toddler could stay sleeping through it all, and they could be on their way. They had a family member they could call, but she was 45 minutes away. Yes, extended family is good. But neighbors are even better in times like that.
These people. This community. It’s changed my whole view on home buying. More than that, they’ve changed my entire outlook on “HOME.” When we moved here, I thought we were getting a new house. I didn’t know we were getting a whole new way of life, a community of neighbors that are truly friends, and a bunch of built-in best buds for our kids.

If you are looking for a new place to call home, don’t leave it to chance as we did. We lucked out big time. Add “good neighbors” to your list of home search priorities. And even if you aren’t moving anytime soon, why not create the culture you want? If you haven’t built relationships with your neighbors yet, start now. It might be just the thing you didn’t know you were missing.

 

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