When you’re hunting for the perfect home, it’s easy to get caught up in the details; square footage, crown moldings, updated kitchen, is the backyard fully fenced? They’re worthwhile features to check into, obviously, but we think there are a few other things that should also be perched at the top of your list in the search for your space. For our part, we think your neighborhood is pretty damn important, and today, we’re gonna take that concept and run a mile with it (eh…a few blocks). Most people think that a neighborhood is just a row of houses with a common surname, but the idea of “neighborhood” is so much more expansive than that. The fact is, the thing that makes any one ‘hood great is specific to you, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Not everyone’s definition of “neighborhood” is the same. You want to live in a place that supports your life and helps you to prosper, so what does that place look like? Everyone has the right to live in an area that allows them the opportunity to create, to connect with others, and to express their authenticity. So where is yours? Is it a place where you can walk your dog? A safe place for your kids? Is it close to public transportation? It doesn’t matter what your prerogative is, just make sure you have one. At my home in the Maryland, my neighbors are the people I say “hi” to in the halls, or the people I walk past on South Temple on my way to work, but when I lived in a mid-century modern in Olympus Cove, it was other mid-mod enthusiasts throughout the valley. If you want to live in nature, that’s fantastic, but how are you going to connect to others? Surround yourself with people that are passionate about the same things that you are. How can you create “neighborhood” where one doesn’t otherwise exist? Neighborhoods don’t have to be limited to your street–and yes, you can have more than one.
2) You’re a character. Look for a neighborhood with some. One of my favorite neighborhood aspects is also one of the most rare: tree-lined streets and sidewalks–you’d be surprised at how unique that combination is. Add lampposts to that and you have a full-blown anomaly. Front yards without fences are another beautifully-communal characteristic to me, and one street that’s doing a phenomenal job of this right now is Arlington Drive in Federal Heights (we talked about that here), but that’s just the thing–these traits are specific to me. What does your neighborhood offer you outside of your house? Where are the gathering places, the coffee shops, the parks? Is there room for you to grow, improve, and express yourself? (Side note: I think this is why people love Salt Lake City–because there’s so much room to create and expand.) Just like picking a unique home is incredibly valuable to me (both monetarily and otherwise), uniqueness is crucial in a neighborhood as well. The more “one-off” the better, in my book. Diversity of both housing and architecture tends to lend itself to a diverse group of people, and I think that’s priceless. One of downtown’s best examples of this: South Temple (and it’s not just because that’s where our office is located–with the Masonic Temple and the Governor’s Mansion as neighbors, we happen to be in unbelievably good company).
3) "Walkability" doesn’t mean what you think. To me, whether or not a neighborhood is “walkable” is defined by this: can you get where you want to go without a car? If you want to hike and meditate in the mountains everyday, downtown’s most walkable neighborhood is suddenly not very walkable anymore. When I lived in Olympus Cove, my neighborhood was extremely walkable, because it was close to the mountains and far away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Every morning I ran up Millcreek Canyon with my pup, Pearl (come by the office and meether sometime) from my front door, and that made it perfectly walkable. I never walked to restaurants or bars, but every morning I ran somewhere that I wanted to go. And that, to me, is walkability at its finest.
Look for a neighborhood that’s authentic–not just another “one of many”. Let’s create amazing things that are an expression of ourselves in our neighborhoods, and let’s support local places that are doing the same. Let’s find our ‘hoods, whatever they may be. There’s no right or wrong, but I encourage people to move beyond the notion of what’s “cool” or “trendy.” Let’s focus on what works for you. Let’s challenge the concept of what makes a neighborhood a neighborhood.