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The people next door

Posted by Binyamin Appelbaum May 13, 2008 12:37 PM

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An April article in the Globe Magazine surveyed some of the miseries that neighbors can inflict: Noiseness, nosiness, boundary encroachments, failures of upkeep and sanitation... The common theme is that the quality of your neighbors matters greatly. Particularly for people living in tight quarters, which is the way many of us live here in Boston.

A recent poll in Parade Magazine found 17 percent of respondents consider neighbors the most important feature of a neighborhood, the same share that listed "good schools" and only slightly less than the share most concerned about their commute.

Students make the worst neighbors, according to a recent Australian poll; my own unscientific polling suggests many Boston residents would agree. The same survey, released by, found that childless couples make the best neighbors.

How can a home-shopper get some information about the folks who would be living next door? One interesting idea is RottenNeighbor, a Web site that lets people post warnings about rotten neighbors. Wrote one resident of Southerland Road in Brighton:

Lady on 3rd floor who yells at her dog almost immediatley every morning. I don't need an alarm clock. Confusing behavior. Why would someone own a dog they didn't want?

But the site hasn't really caught on yet in the Boston area. There are only a handful of local posts.

What's your best advice on taking the measure of your future neighbors?

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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