The neighborhoods with the nicest homes in Palo Alto and Menlo Park are very quiet. Very, very quiet. I’m talking almost-never-talk-to-your-neighbor quiet. So, they’re not Playborhoods (i.e. neighborhoods where kids go outside and play), regardless of whether kids live there or not.
That’s the conclusion my wife and I have come to, by and large, after two plus years of house hunting here.
Of course, we want a house in a Playborhood, and as for the house. we would like lots of interior space – at least 3000 square feet. We’ve discovered that finding both of these things is nearly impossible. We’re square pegs trying to fit into a round hole.
The fact is that, overall, the owners of these 2+ million dollar homes are not very “neighborly,” at least when they’re compared to owners in other neighborhoods with much less expensive homes.This is a very intriguing, and, frankly, disturbing, phenomenon. Does this really mean that upper-middle- and upper-class people don’t want to have relationships with their neighbors? Furthermore, since lower-middle- and middle-class neighborhoods in general are more neighborly, does this mean that neighborliness is lowbrow, beneath the 2+ million dollar home crowd?
More to the point for those of us interested in Playborhoods, is it considered lowbrow in Palo Alto or Menlo Park for kids to play outside in neighborhoods? The few neighborhoods where I’ve detected small amount of outdoor play in Palo Alto and Menlo Park have home prices in the middle range or below here, but of course, these prices are still among the highest in the US.
Geez, this is depressing to even think about. It’s depressing because I’d hate to think that neighborliness is to the 21st century what something like infant mortality was to the 19th and 20th centuries – i.e. a scourge of the lower- and middle-class that we’d like to eradicate completely from American society.
Please, someone, tell me I’m wrong, and tell me we’re going to turn this around and make neighborliness and outdoor play desirable, even among upper-middle- and upper-class folks. I’d hate to have to buy a house we don’t want just to have a vibrant neighborhood with outdoor play for our kids.