I love my neighborhood.
When my wife and I started house hunting about 15 years ago we were moving out of a cramped apartment and were really looking forward to our first home. My wife grew up in a row home in Pennsylvania in a great neighborhood while I lived on a farm in New Jersey with no neighbors to speak of.
Her priorities focused more on the house and mine were more on the neighborhood itself. Of course money was tight as newlyweds so her desire to have a move in ready brand new house started to fall by the wayside.
Our budget had us looking in neighborhoods that she had not initially considered. I strategically visited open houses with her on weekends when families would be outside on walks or playing in parks. I compared these neighborhoods to some of the fancier ones were looked at before. Some of the nicer houses we saw were lived in by people with expensive cars in the driveway but no furniture in many rooms of the house. I knew right then I did not want to live with these types of people. I don’t want to sound like a frugal snob, but i was just more comfortable in the more traditional neighborhood.
We eventually bought a house in the neighborhood I preferred. 15 years later my wife is so appreciative of our decision. The people of our neighborhood are grounded. There are a lot of self employed and business owners who are millionaires, but have Hondas parked in the driveway. These are my kind of people.
Of course the children of the neighborhood play video games, but they also organize pickup basketball games and play outside late into the night. They are able to bike to their friends houses and the safety net of the extended family/neighbors helps keep any eye on them.
In short, my neighborhood feels like a throwback to the types of neighborhoods that existed 30-40-50 years ago.
One of the best parts of living where I do is that we keep old traditions alive. For instance the night before Halloween is also known as Mischief Night. When I was 12 years old I participated in this type of fun and now my kids do the same. The kids and parents will run around the neighborhood with as much stealth as possible to throw toilet paper in the trees of their friends and neighbors. Some neighbors defend their houses with hoses and water balloons. It is all in good fun and the only rule is that no tricks can lead to permanent property damage.
A night like Mischief Night reminds me that a home is more than just a house. A home is inclusive of the other homes and families surrounding you. The sense of community is a strong and valuable asset that cannot be overlooked when house hunting.