Know thy neighbor? Survey shows many don’t know their neighbors by name

A survey done right before COVID-19 hit the United States shows a lot of work needs to be done when it comes to getting to know the people down the street.
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:01 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - “Love thy neighbor” is part of The Golden Rule and is the second commandment in the Christian Bible — but how many Americans know their neighbors by name?

An Ownerly survey done right before COVID-19 hit the United States shows a lot of work needs to be done when it comes to getting to know the people down the street.

“We wanted to know how many people actually know their neighbors,” Consumer Advocate Kerry Sherin from real estate website Ownerly explained.

It turns out, Sherin said, that the answer is not that many.

”The results were kind of shocking that not that many people in total know their neighbors name,” Sherin said. “People don’t really go out of their way these days to really show that friendliness that is stereotypical of being a good neighbor.

Connecting during a year of social unrest, bad weather and a pandemic is more important than ever. People may not be able to sit down for dinner or share a few drinks together, but a quick, “How do you do?” in the front yard can make a big difference these days, Sherin said.

“You have someone that you can call in case of an emergency,” she explained. “You could have somebody watch your dogs for you maybe while you go out of town, water your plants. Things like that.”

More importantly, knowing neighbors helps keep a neighborhood safe. Social connection is also often linked to mental and physical health. Neighbors can even band together to create changes for the entire neighborhood or community they live in.

“People that have these kinds of relationships can really look out for each other on a different level than others who don’t,” Sherin said.

It may feel a little awkward at first but start talking to others while out in the yard or getting the mail.    “Say, ‘Hey, I’m here, I know you’re here too,’” Sherin suggested.

Start by making a batch of cookies or gathering flowers and delivering them to neighbors with any contact information on an attached tag.

”You don’t have to become best friends with these people, but there’s nothing wrong with creating that relationship that a lot of people are really striving for right now,” Sherin said.

A few surprising statistics from the survey:

  • Nearly 1 in 6 people don’t know any of their neighbors’ names. Rising to a quarter (26%) for millennials!
  • People who live in apartments are the least likely to know their neighbor’s name, with 21% answering they don’t know any of their names.
  • One in five respondents aged 60 and older reported knowing the names of 11 or more neighbors, almost double the rate of other age groups. The second highest group? Young Millennials — 12% of respondents in their 20s know 11-plus neighbors by name. Meanwhile, 30-something Millennials were the least likely to know 11 or more neighbors by name.

Here are some of our tips to be a better neighbor:

  • Learn their name — this will make interacting a whole lot easier.
  • Clean up after pets, no matter if a residence is in a community with shared space or is a stand-alone home.
  • Maintain a home’s curb appeal. Don’t leave trash, junk or broken-down vehicles laying around where others must see.
  • Keep the noise down. At the very least, neighbors should respect noise levels throughout the day and notify others if they are having a gathering where loud noises will be anticipated.
  • Talk it out if there’s a conflict, and remember to keep it peaceful. No one wants any potential backlash with those living near them.

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