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How to find a friendly neighborhood

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis October 23, 2013 09:47 AM

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When you are house hunting, you are not just looking for four walls, a roof and a yard.

You are also buying into a neighborhood.

And if you are looking for an old fashioned, small-town feel, where everyone is (nicely) looking out for everyone else, well you don't have to go door to door interviewing the neighbors.

Rather, just look at the layout of the street. If it's a cul-de-sac, with houses facing each other around a circle, you've hit the friendly neighborhood jackpot.

That, anyway, is my down-and-dirty summary of this interesting piece in Atlantic Cities on the research of Thomas Hochschild

A sociologist, Hochschild recently made a case for the cul-de-sac in the Journal of Urban Planning and Development, having tramped across suburban Connecticut interviewing homeowners.

Through streets, like mine in Natick which leads into the town center, have the least amount of "social cohesion," while dead end streets are somewhere in the middle.

Only 5.4 percent of homeowners on through streets cited strong attachments to their neighbors, compared to more than 31 percent of those living along cul-de-sacs, Hochschild's research has found.

Here's a graph from the Atlantic Cities piece.

Hochschild theorizes that there's something more than self-selection going on here. Hardly any of the people he talked to said they moved to a cul-de-sac in search of (or even anticipating) its neighborliness. Rather, the design of the street itself seemed to facilitate it. If you want to throw a block party on a through-street, you need a permit. If you want to do the same on a cul-de-sac, the street is already effectively blocked off.

So what's your take? Are you in search of that idyllic cul-de-sac? Do you want to be close to your neighbors, or would you rather have some distance?

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

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

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