We never really 'need' our neighbors until we do. However, we easily forget - or choose to ignore - the importance of community. On our own, we may be powerless, but collectively and via collaboration we actually possess enormous power.
Personally, I know having good neighbors can make a big difference in my quality of life! I remember my husband and I lived in a neighborhood for 17 years where we did not have a good relationship with our neighbors. We had barking dogs on two sides of us. One tenant across the street would be gone until 2 AM and left his poor dog outside. He would howl continuously until the neighbor came home. Another neighbor smoked in his backyard and the smoke would blow into our backyard due to the westerly winds. When we spoke to him about it, he said no one could tell him what to do in his own backyard. One part of me understood, the other part was terribly annoyed I couldn’t enjoy my own backyard. Our street was narrow making it difficult to park. No one used their garages for their cars…they used it for storage instead. Driving home every night was a sad experience as I pulled into the driveway. I never felt comfortable in my own home. Finally, it took the neighbor’s cleaning lady who accidentally ran into my car parked on the street. I told my husband that we were moving! I no longer could live here. Two months later, we rented our home out and moved to a neighborhood where we liked our neighbors and ones we would say hello to as we walked the streets.
Ronda Kaysen, a real estate reporter for the New York Times, has been writing a real estate advice column for a decade. The one thing she felt was her best advice by far was that neighbors should speak to one another and get to know one another. While living in close proximity to one another is bound to identify areas of disagreement, 'neighbor issues' happen everywhere, even in the most rural parts of the world where neighbors live far apart from one another, separated by vast tracts of open land.
You don't have to become 'best friends' with your neighbors, although that happens too. But it's wise to know who they are and let them know who you are and maybe exchange contact information in the event of an emergency. Collaborating with neighbors related to HOA issues, neighborhood, town or city issues, crime prevention, etc. offers untold opportunity to not only improve one’s quality of life but also the value of your real estate.
So next time you see your neighbor, say hello and ask how they are doing. You never know when the next emergency may happen, and your neighbor is there to help!