When looking for a new abode, people often prize the same things — affordability, a convenient location, enough space for living and working and a plethora of entertainment options and amenities. Although all of these things are important, LendingTree’s latest survey reveals there’s one oft underestimated factor that may contribute to your happiness in a new place — your neighbors.
In its March survey of 1,537 consumers, LendingTree found that 73 percent of Americans dislike at least one of their neighbors, with the top reasons for discord being: weird vibes (28 percent), loudness (27 percent), rude behavior (27 percent), rambunctious pets (17 percent), noisiness (16 percent) and messy exteriors or landscaping (16 percent).
What makes a bad neighbor varies widely by generation, with Gen-Zers (ages 18 to 25) aiming to banish “bad vibes” (33 percent). Millennials (ages 26 to 41) loathe loud neighbors and problem pets (16 percent), and baby boomers (ages 57 to 76) say general rudeness is the most unacceptable neighbor trait (27 percent).
The kind of housing you live in also impacts your neighborly relationships, with apartment and condo dwellers being less likely (68 percent) than homeowners (81 percent) to have at least one friend in their neighborhood. Although they have the benefit of having someone to crack open a brew or bottle of wine with at the end of a long week, homeowners have to deal with something that renters don’t — homeowners associations.
Homeowners told LendingTree they feel pressure from their homeowners associations (36 percent) to keep up with the Joneses. Gen-Zers and millennials are most likely to take measures such as buying a new car (11 percent and 9 percent, respectively), or sprucing up their home’s curb appeal (8 percent and 7 percent) to impress neighbors.
“While some may feel pressure to keep up with the proverbial Joneses, it’s important to remember that it’s typically a smart move to put your financial security above your neighborhood reputation,” LendingTree Senior Economic Analyst Jacob Channel said.
“In other words, while you should aim to keep your home in good shape, you shouldn’t feel obligated to go into debt or spend excessive amounts of money on things like a car or expensive new shrubbery just because that’s what your neighbors appear to be doing.”
Beyond added pressure to maintain neighborhood aesthetics, respondents said HOAs are also a breeding ground for more personal conflicts, especially when it comes to politics and religion.
More than a third of respondents said they prefer to have neighbors whose political beliefs match their own, with 53 percent of HOA members befriending neighbors based on shared political affiliations. However, the importance of shared politics and religion varies based on income, age and race, with low-income households the least likely to care about their neighbors’ views (27 percent).
Gen-Xers (67 percent), baby boomers (66 percent) and millennials (61 percent) are the most open to having neighbors with differing political beliefs, and respondents across all generations were open to living next to someone who practices a different religion (94 percent).
When it comes to race, Black and Latino Americans were less likely to say they don’t live in a diverse neighborhood (35 percent and 41 percent, respectively) compared to their white counterparts (44 percent).
So, what do Americans do when they don’t like their neighbors? They often stay in place.
Only 11 percent of Americans have moved solely because of bad neighbors, with mid-income ($35,000 to $49,999 and $50,000 to $74,999) renters and homeowners spending the most time plotting how to ditch their digs for greener pastures and friendlier neighbors (31 percent). Or, instead of moving themselves, 23 percent of respondents admitted to calling law enforcement to have particularly rowdy neighbors removed.
“While there’s not much variation among age groups, millennials (25 percent) are most likely to get law enforcement involved with a neighborhood problem, with Gen Zers and Gen Xers (24 percent) a close second and baby boomers (18 percent) at the bottom,” the report states.
For homeowners, the entrance of short-term rentals is a stronger motivating factor to move, with 26 percent of HOA members saying they’ve considered moving due to their neighbor transforming their home into an Airbnb. Another 32 percent said while they’d be OK with a short-term rental next door, a series of bad short-term renters could push them to make a move.
“In today’s hot housing market where prices are high and inventory is limited, the unfortunate reality is that some people might not have any other choice but to live near someone they don’t like,” Channel said. “And while getting ‘bad vibes’ from a neighbor can certainly be annoying, dealing with them might be worth it if it means you have an affordable place to live.
“Ultimately, part of being a good neighbor is openly communicating with others who live nearby,” he added. “You should always remember that the nuclear option — i.e., moving away — is often not your only choice when a neighbor does something you don’t like.”