(Whoa, three posts from me in one day, what a record!)
When Turtle and I were looking for a house, one of the things we really wanted was a neighborhood with people who were nice, cared about each other, etc. Obviously, you can't tell the Realtor to scope those things our for you, but we definitely wanted a "neighborhood" feel. In our minds that was not living on a yellow-lined street (yes we are THOSE people, haha), or having the houses SO close together that you are embarrassed to look at your neighbor when you leave the house (did Mr Smith hear Turtle and I argue last night? Did old Mrs Jones hear us DO IT two nights ago?), but we didn't want to be so far apart from our neighbors that we didn't interact.
A few reasons for wanting a neighborhood feel:
1. I grew up without any real neighbors--my parents' house is set so far back off the road and is in the woods. The closest neighbors are far away. I didn't have a close relationship with the kids around me.
2. When Turtle was a young lad, he lived in a cool neighborhood, where people were FRIENDS. He missed that a lot when his family outgrew that house and moved to a different neighborhood.
3. We don't have a lot of friends who live in the area, and while you might not LOVE everyone you live near, if they are nice, that certainly opens up your options.
4. We do plan on having kids someday and we'd like them to have people to (hopefully) play with.
5. I've always been searching for some kind of community, for belonging. I even wrote my senior thesis in college about neighborhoods and community involvement/interaction. Yes, I am a HUGE dork.
We think we've got the neighbor thing down pretty well. When we first moved in, people came over to say hello and welcome. A few weeks later (probably right after the real estate transaction hit the paper), two couples brought over some Edible Arrangements. During one of the first snowstorms we had this winter, someone plowed us out. Another time, someone else snowblowed our driveway. (We now have a snowblower, thank you Turtle's Grandma!)
Tonight, something happened that reaffirmed my belief and faith in neighbors and community. We had a bad snowstorm--kind of unexpected--and I got home around my normal time. Turtle works til 8 on Tuesdays, and usually doesn't get home until close to 9. When I got home, we had about 6 inches of snow in our driveway, and I could NOT get into our garage. I actually got stuck at the bottom of our driveway. I tried and tried, but couldn't get in. I called Turtle to see what I should do, and he advised me to shovel out the car, and try again. I changed clothes, bundled up, and went back outside with my trusty yellow shovel.
I started shoveling, half crying, half cursing my luck. I was also a wee bit upset about Turtle's work schedule, but I bit my tongue since we are so blessed that he HAS a job after being unemployed for 16 months. Then my neighbor from across the street pulled out of his driveway in his BIG pickup. He also has a plow. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him that I'd gotten stuck.
He told me to get out of the way and he'd try to get the snow that was behind my car and in the driveway, out of the way. He did. He then told me to back my car into the street and he'd "clear it out." I had NO idea that meant he was going TO PLOW MY ENTIRE DRIVEWAY!!!!
I'm not really a crier, but at that moment, I teared up. Here's this guy, who has two young kids (boy-girl twins who were actually riding shotgun with their dad), who could be in his warm home, with his wife and kids, but he's helping me. It took him less than 5 minutes (we don't have a big driveway) and he was on his way. I didn't get a chance to really thank him, besides a quick "oh! thank you so much!" when he offered to help get me unstuck, but I stood in the doorway of the garage after I FINALLY pulled my car in and gave a big wave.
At our closing, the seller told us that we were moving into a great neighborhood with really nice people. We'd figured he was right, and we were already pretty impressed with the way people welcomed us when we first moved in. But now? This is completely different. How refreshing to see selflessness, especially on a cold, snowy night.