You’ve likely seen this article on the cover of Maclean's magazine this week while waiting in the long line at the one open till at Safeway.
Here's a link if you want to read it: The End of Neighbours
These are some Coles Notes quotes:
‘The evolving modern definition of a good neighbour is no longer someone who is part of your life, someone you chat with over the fence, a reliable shoulder in good times and bad, but someone who doesn’t bother you, either in your enjoyment of your home or by threatening its property value.’
‘It’s a new neighbourhood, all right: less physical, less tied to place, smaller and more congenial to those on the inside, more suspicious and unyielding to those outside.’
I read this article sitting in the small yard of my townhouse on the first overcast day in August. My house is in the middle of a row of eight 'stuck together houses' as I called them when I was kid. Each has a small 'private use area' and there's a strip of exceptionally green grass between our row and the row of houses we face.
As I worked from a lawn chair, the young nurse two doors down played with her dog on the grass and we chatted about how hot our homes get on blistering summer days. The two adorable little jerk boys from across the grass came over to try to feed my dog a steamed bun. A guy my age that I didn't know walked past my fence and we exchanged 'how's it goin'-s?' It was two parts friendly and one part - if you’re up to something, now I know your face.
I knew that later that evening, while we are all barbecuing, I'd talk with the neighbours on one side about how hard it is to pull up the rose bushes that have grown thick and prickly in all of our yards. The neighbour on the other side would update me on the gruelling progress she's made training her puppy. As it turns to night, the beagle across the grass named Cooper (whose owner's names I've never been able to pronounce) would howl after his nighttime bathroom jaunt on the lawn was over. The French Canadians directly across from us will let their kids stay up way later then ours. And eventually, the smell of weed would come through our open windows from the young kids in the end unit. They're never obnoxious like I was at that age so it's never bothered me.
I really like my neighbours. We're not close friends. But if one knocked on the door and needed to borrow an Ikea allen key, I would happily oblige. When they ask my wife to water their plants when they're on vacation, they're also saying 'I'm trusting you with delicate information: my house will be empty and vulnerable, please keep an eye on it.' I like that our kids all play together, even if the boys across the grass are jerks. We talk of having a block party. But that entails someone to organize it.
The point I'm trying to illustrate is: neighbourhoods in Canada are still important, still vibrant, and still make life better. They just need a little work.
When we sit at your kitchen table to discuss selling your house I always say - the person that buys your home will be remarkably similar to you. The same is true for the person that bought the house next to you. So get to know them. It will make a cloudy afternoon seem a lot sunnier.
As always, I'd love to hear your comments. Tell me about your neighbourhood. How well do you know your neighbours? Do you wish your were closer or would you rather only say hi in passing?
If you've got nothing to talk about with your neighbours, try real estate. Because Real Estate is the New Weather.