A home may be a person’s castle, but even a moat can’t protect you from the annoyances of your neighborhood.
HSH.com conducted a survey of 1,001 Americans about their biggest annoyances regarding their neighborhoods. We gave respondents a list of possible issues and asked them to choose the top five and rank them from 1 to 5.
Here’s what we found about neighborhood frustrations.
Nothing miffs people about their neighborhood more than busy streets and speeders. The survey found that 76 percent of respondents put “busy streets/speeders” in their top-five neighborhood annoyances. Houses being “too close” came in a close second at 71 percent, and “not enough local retail/food shopping” a distant third at 56 percent.
When broken down by owners and renters, busy streets/speeders remained the number one annoyance for owners, but the top choice for renters is houses being too close.
Frederick Ryan, police chief in Arlington, Massachusetts, says that fear about speeders and busy roads “can compromise some of our most vibrant neighborhoods.”
“A parent in fear of a family’s safety due to speeding cars is no different than a parent’s fear in an inner city urban environment due to violent crime; fear is fear. Yet citizens and officials alike sometimes minimize the impacts of traffic volume and traffic violations,” he says.
The annoyance about busy streets and speeders seems to grow the longer a person lives at a residence. Houses too close was the number one annoyance for those who lived in their homes seven or fewer years, but busy streets/speeders picked up the top spot for people who are in their homes for eight or more years.
Why the change? Respondents likely became more comfortable with the closeness of homes and began looking outward to the dangers on their streets. Plus, speeding cars might not concern you as much until you have children.
Kimberly O’Neil Mara, CPA, Realtor at Century 21 Spindler & O’Neil Associates in North Reading, Massachusetts, says some first-time homebuyers will purchase a starter home and are not concerned about a main road because they don’t see it as their forever home. They, instead, expect to live with the “nuisance in the short term,” she says.
Prospective homebuyers often don’t have the budget to satisfy every desire on their list so they sometimes need to choose a busy street to stay in their price range. John Mijac, sales manager at Long Realty Company in Tucson, Arizona, says it’s important in the process to figure out what are the most important needs. You’re going to live there so make sure it fits – and avoid as many neighborhood annoyances as possible.
What can you do about speeders?
Ryan says neighborhoods with speeding problems should work together with police to educate motorists about the harm of speeding.
“We recommend the triple ‘E’ approach to traffic management: Education, Engineering and Enforcement,” says Ryan. “If neighborhoods and officials seek out environmental and/or engineering solutions they can realize immediate results.”
One common problem is wide-open roads with little visual obstruction, which invite motorists to accelerate. Working together, police and residents can find simple ways to slow down traffic.
“By placing a few strategically located parked cars and ‘necking down’ the roadway, it will likely result in driving down the average speed of cars. In terms of traffic volume, traffic is like water; it will seek its own level. This is where sound engineering and marco-level community planning are essential,” says Ryan.
Check out what our respondents said about their biggest home and neighbor annoyances: