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By Jayme Muller

May 4, 2021

Image showing people looking out windows with text reading “Neighborhood Friendliness: A Survey on America’s Friendliest Neighbors”

As we’ve all learned over the past year, having friendly neighbors is such a blessing, allowing for socially-distanced backyard dinner parties and patio cocktail hours. As a result, many of us have had an avenue to continue lasting friendships with neighbors and get much-needed face time throughout the pandemic. At RTA, we are all about these neighborhood friendships. After all, a block party is the perfect excuse to make full use of an outdoor dining and entertainment space!

Given so many people have enjoyed more time outdoors with friends in the past few months, we were curious to see how Americans feel about the people who live next door. But the United States is culturally diverse, and not everyone feels the same way about their neighbors. So we started to wonder which states have the friendliest neighbors, if and how neighbors will gather this summer, and what acts of kindness people receive from neighbors? 

To satiate our curiosity, we conducted a nationwide survey about neighborhood friendliness. We polled at least 30 Americans in every U.S. state and asked them to rate their neighbors’ friendliness on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least friendly and 5 being the most friendly. We also asked respondents to weigh in on general neighborly friendliness—whether they wave hello, offer help, and perform other niceties.

We compiled our results to find the states with the friendliest neighbors and to analyze relationships between neighbors. Check out our results below, and feel free to send over your favorite insights to the neighborhood group chat!

Two bar graphs showing the 10 states with the friendliest neighbors and the 10 states with the least friendly neighbors

First, we compared ratings from individual states’ residents to find the states with the most and least friendly neighbors. The friendliest state was Hawaii, where average rating of neighborhood friendliness ranked 20% above the national average. Clearly, the Aloha spirit is strong among neighbors that are willing to extend friendship and support among one another!

Other top states included Wyoming, Kansas and South Dakota. In these outdoor spaces, where most individuals have some beautiful land to buffer themselves, it’s no wonder that less cramped neighbors generate friendly relationships.

On the other hand, some of the states with the least friendly neighbors include Washington, D.C., Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Especially in D.C.’s busy urban environment and Rhode Island’s tightly squeezed cape-codder neighborhoods, it’s no wonder that neighbors might feel a little less free in their individual space.  Perhaps, this leads to squabbles over property management or other less-than-friendly exchanges.

We noted that there wasn’t one geographic region with especially friendly or unfriendly neighbors, so, perhaps those stereotypes about Southern hospitality and Northeast coldness can finally be put to rest!

Donut graphs showing showing how often neighbors would help with friendly tasks

After reviewing the most and least friendly neighbors by state, we wanted to better understand what exactly characterizes a “friendly” neighbor, and what norms of neighborhood friendliness exist. After all, what one person may consider friendly involvement, another may consider snooping.

We started with move-in day! More than 70% of respondents said that their neighbors welcomed them upon arrival. Interestingly, more men were welcomed than women.

Then, we asked about daily, friendly gestures. One in three people say their neighbors always acknowledge them, with females expressing higher rates of acknowledgement. Interestingly, Gen Z was at least three times more likely than any other generation to be rarely acknowledged.

As far as neighborhood relationships go, most neighbors do breach the small-talk level of a neighborhood relationship. Three in five respondents know the names and major life events of their next-door neighbors and nearly half of the respondents share personal information and family matters with neighbors. These relationships are strongest outside of the suburbs. Almost twice as many ruralites and urbanites were very likely to spend free time with neighbors than suburbanites.

These relationships can deliver helpful favors! Nearly a third of respondents say that a friendly neighbor would likely collect the mail while they are gone, but almost a quarter reported that neighbors would watch their homes, pets or children or water plants. 

With friendships like these, it’s no wonder so many Americans leaned into neighborhood relationships for fun over the past year. We wanted to learn more about those gatherings, so we asked Americans about their neighborhood’s social scene.

Pie graph showing how many Americans are doing summer activities with their neighbors

We found that generally, 60% of respondents invite or are invited by their neighbors for some form of gathering, usually around once every three months. About half of respondents said that their neighborhood used to host block parties before social gathering restrictions were introduced for the pandemic.

Disappointingly, only 40% said that plans are forming for neighborhood gatherings this summer. However, when we are all back on the block party scene, we know that everyone will be trying to get an invite—especially in neighborhoods where residents used increased time at home to complete an outdoor patio renovation with a new entertaining space. Therefore, it’s necessary to avoid any neighborhood drama that will cost you your seat at the table!

Pie graphs showing how often neighborhood drama happens

Attitudes about neighborhood drama were pretty split. Over half of respondents said they rarely or never experience neighborhood drama at a get-together. Although a significant portion, about 7% of respondents said that there is always neighborhood drama at gatherings.

Interestingly, nearly 1 in 3 respondents reported that they’ve called the police on a neighbor. Hopefully, new friendships and strong relationships will prevent the need for police calls in the future.

Having dove into neighborhood drama, we wanted to end our analysis by highlighting the nicest things neighbors have done for one another. Check out some of the top responses below!

Text showing the nicest things neighbors have done

To wrap things up, we had a lot of fun reviewing the states with the most friendly neighbors and neighborly relationships across the country. Some of our key insights included:

  • There was no one geographic region where neighbors were especially friendly.
  • Generally, most respondents reported having friendly neighbors, with rural and urban residents in the Millennial and Gen X generations having the closest relationships.
  • Occasionally, drama unfolds at social gatherings, but about half of respondents had regular block parties before the pandemic.

With these positive relationships and neighborhood meetups, it’s no wonder that so many people are enthusiastic about returning to social connection with neighbors. If your outdoor space needs a refresh to impress your neighbors post-pandemic, check out RTA Outdoor’s outdoor entertaining solutions.

Catch you at the block party!

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