Do your neighbors like you?


A homeowner from Dallas confessed to me that one of her big challenges as a homeowner is feeling like she isn’t taking care of her yard as well as her neighbors do.

I immediately sympathized and my mind went to the spooky Halloween arrangement still sitting outside the front of my house.

December 10th.

I felt self conscious. It seems that practically everyone else on my block is putting up fabulous Christmas lights and tasteful and creative pine arrangements, and I had yet to take down my attempts at an October fright scene.

But, embarrassment is a great motivator. I went right out the door and packed away my spiders, skeletons and skulls and rehabilitated my weather beaten life-like wreath with some new bows and flowers.

Still, I think it’s not quite enough.

Do you ever feel self conscious and inadequate compared to your neighbors?

Growing up in suburban Maryland, my parents kept the grass fertilized and cut neatly. They took pride in their gardening. Our house was always painted neat and shiny.

Our neighbor next door let their grass grow a bit too long, and allowed the paint on their house to crack a bit too much before fixing. It was a subject of irritation at the dinner table, for sure. Because, of course, a house that isn’t kept up next to yours can bring your own property value down. Stressful.

When I talked to my mother this weekend I was surprised that she has the same fears as I do – that her yard isn’t quite as nice as it could be and that maybe other neighbors are doing a better job.

In fact, another homeowner I know who moved into a gorgeous Victorian house, and spent a few months renovating, recently shared with me her anxiety with putting in grass where the previous owner had fancy plantings. She just didn’t feel equipped to keep up with that level of gardening. But, she worried – would her neighbors sigh and think “gosh, we sure miss the old owners”?

I’m beginning to think that this feeling of inadequacy compared with your neighbors is a common condition. Shall we give it a name? How about Homeowner Inferiority Complex?

For me, I decided I’m not going to worry about it anymore and suggest this simple ethical rule that seems like a good benchmark:

Am I bringing my neighbors home value down?

If the answer is yes, then I think we all have an obligation to get things fixed up, as I don’t think any of us want to impact our neighbors in a negative way.

If the answer is no, then there’s really no reason to sweat it! Don’t you think?  I think we should do more of what makes us happy with our home and not worry about how we measure up to others.

What are your thoughts?

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