The Different Personalities of a Neighborhood

Another House (and a Magnificent White Oak Tree) in Atlanta's Druid Hills
UGArdener / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

This morning, I was sitting out on my porch while my car was warming up.  There was frost on the windows, but the birds were out singing like it was spring and the sky was clear.  I was thinking about the neighborhood I live in while I watched my neighbors getting into their cars to go to work or transport their kids to school.

I have moved several times in my life.  Funny, I always lived in the suburbs.  Even so, it amazes me the how different one neighborhood can be from another.

When the kids were little, we lived in a bungalow in a gritty suburb.  Even though it wasn’t my dream home or the city I wished to live in, our neighborhood was actually quite nice.  Back then housing prices were through the roof.  Young couples starting out couldn’t afford many of the more desirable neighborhoods so they ended up in the neighborhood we lived in.

Our neighborhood was filled with kids.  All young and always outside playing, like when I was a kid.  The parents would sit on their porches and watch their children play.  Many times we would go house hopping and hang out with a lot of our neighbors.  There had to be at least twenty kids on our block alone.  All of the parents knew each other and got together for bbq’s and New Years Eve parties.  Considering the neighborhood we lived in, it really was a great place for our young kids to start out.

By the time the kids were half-way through elementary school, we moved to our dream home.  The house was huge, the neighborhood was gorgeous and the city was one we had always wished we lived in.  We lived in a neighborhood that had one way in or out, so the traffic was pretty much non-existent.  Kids would ride their bikes in the street or play hockey with no fears of speeding cars racing by.

We used to joke that we lived in fairytale land because we had the best animals in our neighborhood.  We saw deer often.  There were rabbits everywhere and we saw the prettiest birds.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to see birds with velvet ribbons in their mouths while singing beautiful songs.  Honestly, the neighborhood was magical.

The neighborhood we had moved from had crows.  Lots of them, and boy did they make a racket.  We would see possums, skunks and raccoons.  None of these animals seemed to be allowed in our new neighborhood.  The difference in the types of animals we saw was rather startling.

The down-side of our new neighborhood was that it was often what we refered to as a ghost town.  The neighborhood felt empty once you lived there for a while and oddly vacant.  These families were busy.  Both parents were working and the kids were all in a million activities.  The busiest time of day was after dinner when you might see some kids outside.  The little kids who hadn’t started school yet were the ones you would see lost often  Besides that, there was a strange disconnect between neighbors.  We knew our neighbors, but even living a few doors away, finding time to get together was rough because of the hectic schedules.

The economy tanked and my husband and and I lost our jobs.  We then lost our home.  We were lucky in that we found a new home in a nice neighborhood literally across the street in the next subdivision over.  Houses were at this point inexpensive to buy, so we were able to stay in the same school district and close enough to our old neighborhood that the move was less jarring for the kids.

We now live in a neighborhood of curvy streets with trees everywhere.  Our last home was in a neighborhood that had few trees and felt rather stark in comparison  Most of the homes in our new neighborhood are traditional colonials, which is what we bought.  For all that we loved in our old neighborhood, this new neighborhood gave us something our old neighborhood lacked.  This neighborhood had life.

We were amazed at the amount of people who were always home.  Many people had lived in the same home all of these years and were now retired.  Other families only had one parent working.  People were home.  They were out puttering around in their yards and running after their children.  The people in this neighborhood were friendly and had lots of time to stand around and shoot the breeze.

We were delighted when we found out that the neighborhood held a block party each year.  This was no ordinary block party.  There were tons of games, food and entertainment.  The kids were thrilled.  The neighborhood is loaded with kids, and once again we are in a neighborhood where kids will come by and ring the bell looking for one of our children.  At any given time you will see kids on bikes, kids playing basketball and kids running around shouting, being kids like they should be.

Neighborhoods are a funny thing.  Each one has a remarkably different personality.  It’s amazing how the neighborhood you live in really shapes the way your kids see their lives.  We love where we live and are happy and relieved that a bad experience turned out to be not so bad after all.

What about you?  What kind of neighborhood do you live in?  Are you happy with the place you live or do you wish to live in a different type of area?

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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16 thoughts on “The Different Personalities of a Neighborhood

  1. Hubby and I have lived in this home for the last 25yrs and it is a great neighbourhood and I love it here even though in the complex of town houses we live in we have a prostitue and drug deals (her sons) it is a good area and we are happy here and have no plans to ever move……I love to watch the neighbours some of them are interesting……..

  2. I’m so glad you were able to find what you were missing after losing your home. It would be nice if a problem always ended up so well for everyone.

    When I moved into my current apartment I wasn’t sure what the personality would be like, but it took the only teen in the building to notice I was outside to get people coming out. Now we know everyone in the building. The tenants are a very eclectic mix of people from a young professional couple, to several university students to senior citizens, yet it feels like family.

    I had to laugh at your description of the wildlife in your different neighborhoods. Because I live only a block from down town and at the same time on beach front property with a rural undeveloped land behind the building we have every variety of wildlife from crows to seagalls, deer to racoons, even turtles and groundhogs frequent the property. Yes, the crows are very talkative, but this morning twice I heard the Canada Geese which tells me spring is finally about to return.

      • Oh we have toads too:-) There isn’t much we don’t have if it’s native to this area. We had one turtle that ended up here on one of the hottest days of the year last summer. I got a bucket filled with water to cool him off and went up the back road to the creek to ensure he would be okay, i couldn’t get close enough, but a tree trimmer, I never met before, saw me stopped work and carried him down. That’s the kind of town I live in, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  3. Wendy: My Hubby and I have lived in our house for 38+ years. When we married, he had bought a mobile home. Our son went through school kindergarten through 12 th grade. We know the area has changed but it’s so convenient- a hospital is down the street. When we moved here the elementary school was 3 blocks east of us. The middle school/ junior high was three blocks north and west of our house.(Both schools are closed now.) A grocery store is 1/2 mile north and east of us. Across the street from the grocery sits CVS. We like the area.

  4. Hi Wendy, A very welcome post. Growing up in a pastor’s home, we move around quite a bit. In fact, I attended 17 different schools in my lifetime. Can you imagine a teenager moving from Brooklyn, NY, to a small town in California, with a population of just, 120! Talk about a ghost town. From 1972, to 2006, my wife and I resided in a vey lively,but somewhat crowded neighborhood. Much commotion throughout the day. Upon retirement, we moved to a very upscale area, in another state, however, It has a ghost town feeling, as we hardly see anyone. It is a very beautiful area, and well landscaped throughout. We enjoy our privacy, but it sure is eerie, living in such a place. Blessings.

  5. I live in an apartment and its a ghost town. My last apartment community was full of kids (this one also has a lot of kids) and they were always outside. I’m blaming it on the cold weather. We’ll see what spring brings.

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