A new study reveals ingredients for America’s dream neighborhood. One’s experience of a home is deeply connected to the neighborhood it resides in. Just as we want spacious kitchens and lots of natural lights inside our homes, we want parks, libraries and restaurants near our homes. Consciously or not, we have all sorts of preferences related to the makeup of our neighborhoods, ranging from their liveliness to closeness of our relationship with neighbors.
Seventy percent of homeowners say they’re not currently living in their dream neighborhood, according to a new survey of more than 2,000 respondents from Improvenet, a website focused on home improvement. The other 30% says that their dream neighborhood is located in a different town; 20% of that group say it’s three to 10 miles away, and 27% say it’s in a different part of the state or a neighboring state. So what qualifies as a “dream neighborhood?” Survey respondents ranked the following as their top criteria.
Not surprisingly, commute time is an essential consideration for working adults dreaming of the perfect neighborhood. On average, our respondents said 14 minutes is the ideal commute time, and 28 minutes is the longest a commute can be for a neighborhood to retain a dreamy status.
We also asked about different settings for neighborhoods, from leafy suburbs to bustling city centers.
People living in distant exurbs are the least satisfied group. Of our respondents, 72 percent hailing from suburbs want to be in the suburbs, and 63 percent hailing from cities want to be in a city. Unfortunately, of those living in exurbs, only 37 percent want to be there.
What about relationships with neighbors? Last year we conducted a study of annoying neighbors, so we know what it looks like when things go sour. But what’s the ideal? For most, privacy trumps intimacy.
On the subject of wealth, a vast majority of Americans just want to fit in—ninety percent of respondents said they’d prefer to be equally affluent to neighbors, while just six percent prefer to be more affluent and four percent prefer to be less affluent.
Naturally, as people climb income brackets, it’s more likely they’ll be living in their dream neighborhood already. Just 27 percent of people making less than $50K per year are living in their ideal neighborhood, compared with 44 percent of those making more than $100K. However, that means a full 56 percent in the higher income bracket have yet to arrive at their dream destination. Make no mistake, Americans love striving.
At the end of our survey, we asked one crucially important question, applicable to all ages and incomes, people from cities and suburbs alike, and to both those living in their dream neighborhood and those still seeking it: do you make an effort to improve your current neighborhood?
Forty-one percent of respondents said no, they don’t make any effort; 59 percent said yes. Of those who make an effort, the different ways are summarized below.
Methodology: On May 23, 2019, we surveyed 2,210 Americans between the ages of 18 and 76. Fifty-seven percent of our respondents were female, 43 percent male. Fifty-four percent live in suburbs, 33 percent live in cities and 13 percent live in exurbs.