Are you a good neighbor? Helping to create a sense of well-being in your community is the key to a happy neighborhood, yet it seems that fewer Americans are taking time to engage with their neighbors.
We ran a survey exploring neighbor relationships in the U.S. and found that a majority of Americans aren’t friends with their neighbors in real life. We also took a look at the growing popularity of online neighborhood groups and how digital conversations were impacting neighbor relations as a whole.
Our survey findings revealed that:
Having good neighbors helps foster a sense of community and trust, and it can also make your home safer. A Nextdoor survey found that over 67% of homeowners feel safer when they know their neighbors.
Below, we’ll take a look at neighbor relations across the U.S., as well as provide some helpful solutions to connect with the stranger next door.
Are you friends with your neighbors? We asked about Americans' relationship with the people who live next door, and our results revealed that 66% of those surveyed consider their neighbors acquaintances (42%) or strangers (24%). Only 10% considered their neighbors close friends.
While most Americans don’t consider their neighbors friends, it’s not for lack of want: An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that it’s important for neighbors to look out for one another. Further, a 2019 survey found that American homeowners would be willing to pay $125 more a month to choose their neighbors.
The rise of digital communities has also transitioned neighborhood communication online. Neighborhood-based site Nextdoor has 236,000 active neighborhoods throughout the world, reaches 90% of U.S. neighborhoods, and is worth an estimated $2.1 billion.
According to our survey results, 27% of Americans are members of online neighborhood groups such as Nextdoor. Women are 10% more likely than men to engage in this online neighborhood communication.
While online neighborhood chats can make our lives easier, like selling furniture online as opposed to hosting a garage sale, it can also make our interactions more transactional and make us feel lonelier. Since the 1980s, loneliness rates have doubled in America, and 47% of Americans report having no meaningful face-to-face social interactions.
Other studies have found that engaging with neighbors online can actually help foster connections that later translate to in-person friendships, so you don’t need to delete your Nextdoor app. Rather, help foster a sense of community in your neighborhood by remembering to stop and say “hi” in person once in a while.
Midwesterners are known for being friendly and charitable with their time, so it may come as no surprise that they are also the most likely to be friends with their neighbors. Thirty-six percent of Americans living in the Midwest consider themselves friends or close friends with their neighbors. Midwesterners are also the most likely to stay in their hometowns, which can help foster a sense of belonging and community pride.
Americans in the West were found to be the least friendly, with only 30% of residents considering their neighbors to be friends or close friends. Neighbors in this region are also the most likely to be house poor.
Fostering friendships and engaging in meaningful conversations with the people around you will help break down barriers and create lasting relationships, and it will also make future interactions feel less forced. After all, you never know when you may need a neighbor favor: Whether you need someone to check on your house while you’re out on vacation or a grocery run during an unprecedented pandemic, your neighbors can help lend a helping hand.
Furthermore, living in neighborhoods with a strong sense of community can actually help lower your homeowners insurance by reducing crime rates in your area. If you prioritize safety, security, and happiness at home, remember to stop and say hi once in a while.
This study was conducted for The Zebra using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no fewer than 1,500 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in March 2020.