A Third of Americans Have Never Interacted with their Next Door Neighbor

Only about 20 percent of Americans spent time regularly with the people living next to them. A third said they’ve never interacted with their neighbors. That’s a significant decline from four decades ago, when a third of Americans hung out with their neighbors at least twice a week, and only a quarter reported no interaction at all.
Many have moved to suburbs, where living spaces have become more private. There’s been a boom in gated communities, which were designed to keep people of differing backgrounds out. And many spaces that brought communities together, like pools and gyms, have gone private. Plus, living in suburbs means we’re commuting more—alone.

All this means that Americans are growing farther apart and talking less with people who have different opinions.
One of the very things that led to this decline in neighborliness may be key to reversing the trend: technology.

Dunkelman points me to a social networking site called Nextdoor. It’s like Facebook, but instead of connecting with existing friends, it connects you with people in the neighborhood. You can discuss community issues, ask for local recommendations, or even organize events with the people you see every day—something that the site’s founders felt was lacking back when they created the company in 2011.

“People were relying on social networks more and more, but there was this huge gap,” says Nextdoor co-founder Nirav Tolia. “There wasn’t a social network targeting an absolutely essential community: the one in which we live.”

The website has gained popularity over past few years, attracting people in more than 70,000 neighborhoods across the country. “People do want to connect with their neighbors,” Tolia adds. “We don’t have to force you [to have] something in common with your neighbors; you already do by definition.

In Mountlake Terrace alone there are over 400 people on Nextdoor scattered across 8 different neighborhood sites.

In my neighborhood, Town Center, there are 86 members. In the past month people have posted about an aggressive dog on the loose, starting a block watch program, a couple of dogs gone missing, and someone giving away a free lawn mower and another an old BBQ.

If you're already signed up you can invite neighbors by clicking the "Invite" button on the top right when you login. You can invite neighbors by email, print out a poster, share a link on other social networks, or Nextdoor will even mail postcards to neighbors of you choice.

If you're not on Nextdoor yet you can sign up at Nextdoor.com.