Hey, neighbor, this survey's about you

One of my favorite TV shows over the last 30 or so years was a British program called The Good Life over there but Good Neighbors in the United States.

Tom Good, the focus of the series, was a designer of toys packaged in cereal boxes, who, at 40, decided to chuck it all and turn his suburban property into an oasis of self-sufficiency.

As the episodes unfolded, Good proved less of a good neighbor than the U.S. title implied, owing in large part to his obsession with trying to create the good life as he often blindly envisioned it.

The show inspired me to turn our small patch of north-facing rowhouse backyard in Queen Village into a garden, and I later farmed our eighth of an acre in Mount Airy - both with little success.

South Jersey has been a different story - we gorge ourselves on lettuce daily for eight weeks in the spring and six in the fall.

I have always tried to be a good neighbor, which has been very easy in all three neighborhoods in which we've lived.

I think, however, that my neighbors in Mount Airy were overjoyed when I moved 15 years ago because they were tired of my writing about them, although they never came right out and said anything to me.

When we moved to Haddonfield, the conversations changed from politics to real estate and children - two topics I find more relaxing.

Especially real estate.

Neighbor relations were the subject of a recent Trulia study - they sure do a lot of them, don't they? - and what the real estate search engine's numbers-crunchers found sure was enlightening.

Trulia found that a majority of respondents to its online survey said they were friendly with their neighbors and knew them on a first-name basis. Yet most acknowledged having pet peeves with neighbors, it said.

"Younger Americans, particularly millennials and Gen Xers, are the most sensitive and confrontational neighbors," Trulia found, "suggesting that the 'Get off my lawn!' attitude associated with older baby boomers may be largely a myth."

(Shouldn't that be "Stop tweeting on my lawn!" or "Go Instagram yourself!"? You decide.)

Sixty-three percent characterized their relationship as "friendly," the survey results showed, and 10 percent considered their neighbors to be "very close" or even "best friends."

The survey was conducted by Harris Poll from Sept. 14 to 16 among 2,069 adults age 18 and over, so you know it's fresh.

Millennials who responded said they were either very close or complete strangers with their neighbors. Sixteen percent considered themselves very close or best friends with neighbors, compared with 10 percent of Gen Xers (age 35-54), and 6 percent of baby boomers (age 55-plus).

Most respondents still complained about their neighbors, and nearly half said they'd had a problem with a neighbor in the last 12 months.

More than half of those who'd had issues with neighbors cited noise problems: loud music, pets, parties.

("Shut up!" he shouted, banging on the wall. "I can hear you texting!")

Visual or aesthetic issues, such as poor yard conditions, were a distant second in terms of neighbor-related problems, the survey showed.

I can't find fault with any of my neighbors.

The little girls across the street, who call me Mr. Al, continue to be my practice grandchildren. Their parents pick up my newspapers when I'm not home.

Another neighbor leaves his tall ladder out for me when I need it to paint the house. I bring in their trash cans when they are away.

Isn't that what neighbors are for?

aheavens@phillynews.com
215-854-2472
@alheavens

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