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Are we really that unfriendly here?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis November 29, 2011 05:36 AM

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Landing a decent home can be a challenge in Greater Boston. Despite the downturn, prices remain high and decent inventory remains hard to find.

But for the lucky ones who manage to snag a house, there remains the challenge of getting to know the neighbors and making new friends. While that might be a cinch in oh-so-polite Atlanta or sunny San Diego, we live in a part of the country where outward displays of friendliness to anyone outside of a select circle of family and friends are seen as an oddity or worse, a dangerous aberration. (You know, it's the old subway rule: Avert gaze, stare straight ahead and make absolutely no attempt at eye contact or conversation.)

New Englanders are a chilly bunch, but Bostonians are even worse.

I've had the advantage of living here for most of my life - I know the rules. But for those who parachute in after getting a job and then buying a house in the Boston area, it can be a rude awakening.

The good news is there are ways of breaking the ice - I was lucky enough to marry an outgoing Midwesterner who decided to befriend our Natick neighbors, whether they liked it or not. And to their credit, most of them have welcomed her efforts -  and have probably seen it as a breath of fresh air.

But be forewarned, it's not easy come, easy go around here.

As daveycnd recently wrote: I've been here 10 years, and I'll be gone by the end of next year... either San Diego or Chicago. Even after all this time, and after a breakup, Boston is just NOT a friendly city. If you're from here, and have your circle, you are all set, but MOST people are not willing to open those circles. I love the city... just not the attitude.

And here's what Bynxers had to say.

Yeah sorry- I've been here almost a decade and never truly felt accepted or a member of the community. In fact, I swear that I was turned down on several jobs BECAUSE I wasn't from here- even though I went to the "right" Boston area university for my field.

I've been outgoing and social as much as possible and if it weren't for my inlaws and wife's friends I would literally have NO social local "Boston" social connections beyond colleagues and work pleasantries. Literally, all my true friends around here are from somewhere else and NOT Boston.

People aren't welcoming when you come here and they always say if you don't like it- then leave when you address the serious issues of the area.

And housing is one of them. All my friends and family think the prices for the subpar housing stock here are laughable.

If there's one thing I have learned in my travels- its that the un-trendy and "depressing" places are much more livable, affordable and welcoming than any of our better, more cool areas.

I know people who live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, Upstate New York and Wisconsin who are all infinitely happy and better off financially than those of us who live in the "better places" like Boston, NYC, DC or California. I want to cry when I go visit friends in Pittsburgh who earn much less than what we bring in but have a quality of life probably double that of ares because there housing is affordable, daycare is affordable, taxes are affordable, etc.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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

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