Wish We Were Neighbors…

It seems like just about every day, I send a text that starts with those four words.

To Annette: “Wish we were neighbors so you could tell me if I should keep these shoes.”

Earlier this week to Laura: “Wish we were neighbors so you could come over for coffee to discuss last night’s episode of Girls.”

This morning to my dear college friends Kirsten & Monica: “Wish we were neighbors so you could talk me down from my mounting book-release-related crazy.”

Last week to Emily in Kalamazoo: “Wish we were neighbors so we could take a dance class together. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Sometimes I find myself thinking about the people I love, all spread out all over the country, and I think: why are we so far apart? Would it be insane to move houses or cities or states because of friendship? Doesn’t it sort of make sense?

People move for jobs, for love, to be near their parents or in a city they like. People move to be in good school systems for their kids or according to God’s call to a church or ministry. People move for houses they fall in love with and shorter commutes. Do people move for friendship? Have you? Would you?

This is what I want, in my secret crazy heart: I want to pick a neighborhood and put out the call: let’s do this! Let’s stop texting and seeing each other twice a year, if that. Let’s pick a neighborhood, and let’s move there and raise our kids together and have dinner together twice a week and go running together and put our kids on the same bus in the morning.

What do you think about this? Is it a silly dream?

You know how I feel about friendship, that I believe, really and truly, that friendship is God’s best evidence of himself here on earth. You know I believe that friendships shape us, heal us, transform us. You know I think they’re hard, and worth putting in the time and awkwardness and vulnerability that real friendships require.

This is my question these days: when you have friendships that are so dear to you, when you feel so seen and loved and connected and thankful for what these amazing people bring you, why wouldn’t we change our lives, or  at the very least, our location for them?

What do you think?

51 thoughts on “Wish We Were Neighbors…

  1. YES! I think this ALL the time Shauna! My photography business has helped me foster friendships across the U.S. and often I think, “Why don’t I live in SoCal again?” or why don’t I move the 45 minutes south of where i live in either direction to be closer to family and friends? It’s such a good question. Not that I have an answer on why I don’t, outside of a good job here where I live. But thanks for putting into words something I’ve thought VERY often!

  2. I often think that, and if it weren’t for my husband being unwilling to move- I think I would be in a different place right now! Some of my closest friends are in different states, and it is hard!!

  3. totally resonate with this; we have moved in the past year; some dear friends have had their first babies & I wish we could walk downtown together for coffee, something I took for granted when we did that regularly. I also have this conversation ALL Of the time with people we are building friendships with who are potentially moving on for residency, for jobs, for change. thanks for articulating this. This is my friend life too.

  4. Yes. Everyday I think about my next place to move because while I’m living near some friends now, others are 3 hours away and I cherish those times we spend together. Facebook and text messages don’t bring the same healing and connected-ness that I sometimes need with them. I’m thankful and beyond blessed by the friendships I have; and think I would absolutely move for them. My focus in life has moved from my job title and status to the types of relationships I maintain and build. That’s what makes me happy and complete.

  5. I love this. It’s been something I’ve thought a lot about since hearing Bart Campolo speak on it a few years back.

  6. I was seriously considering a move to the East Coast in part to be closer to two of my best friends one who lives in Boston and the other in DC. Well lucky me my best friend in Boston is moving back to Austin this summer!!

    Now if I could just get my sister to move back to Texas from Tennessee.

  7. I think this is the best. I had a professor in college who had taken a job at my university over a more prestigious one, largely so he could move his family across the country to raise their kids on the same street as their best friends. My husband and I have sort of done this on a teeny tiny scale in Chicago. We wanted to live down the street from some of our best friends, which eventually resulted in us buying a three flat that now we all live in. I’d say one of the best decisions of our married life!

  8. Totally agree. And the reverse is true for me too. I have deep friendships with my neighbors. We raised our kids together, have a standing date every Christmas morning after presents for coffee in our PJs, and spent many summer nights on someone’s patio or around someone’s fire pit sharing life. We’ve made a covenant not to move! In the reality of jobs, schools, house size, etc, still it feels great to express at least our ernest desire to stick to that agreement!

  9. Well we recently did the opposite of this. We had an offer on our house, the chance to upgrade to something bigger, nicer, etc. However we were so torn. We LOVE our neighbors, and we have some dear friends across the street. Our kids play together all the time. In the summer we can just look out our front window to see who has started filling up the kiddie pool first. The kids run back & forth between houses. We were just not willing to give all that up for some extra square footage. Because really when my kids are grown, they are going to remember their neighborhood friends and all the fun they had–not that we had a house with only 3 bedrooms.

  10. Yes! We moved back to MI from FL about 4 years ago, and my heart still aches for our friends down there. If I could get all the people I love in one neighborhood it would be like Heaven. I think that might be part of Heaven, no more temporary goodbyes!

  11. Absolutely! My husband always says if he wins the lottery (which he doesn’t play!) he would buy all the houses on a cul-de-sac and we’d move in all our friends and family. My girlfriends and I used to envision houses next to one another, connected by secret tunnel systems, not requiring us to even leave our homes to go back and forth. Friends are everything!

    1. My girlfriends and I used to daydream about the exact same thing back in high school and college— down to the tunnel system and everything!

  12. I think this so often. I am a missionary and I have indescribable friendships on every continent. Every day my heart aches to be with one of my distant families, but then I think about what truly and deeply connects my heart and soul with another person…a rooted joy in seeing that person dive into God’s direction and desire for them. I fear that perhaps if we moved together we may move out of God’s will to a place where He is not glorified and we therefore are not satisfied. In that place no amount of dinners or walks can restore out bond that was fleshed out of a a unified desire to serve the King and make Him known whatever the cost…even the cost of distance. Christ whispers to me love them fiercely, but hold them loosely because they belong to me. If He gives me the treasure of unifying my heart and location with a dear friend I rejoice and if He sends me to a distant land alone I rejoice for He is sovereign!

    1. Couldn’t agree more. I was trying to think of the right words to describe what I ws feeling about this, then I read them in your post. Thank you!

  13. This struck a nerve, and that compels me to question the friendships I have that are near. We see each other seldom as if we are miles apart a cross the US of A when really we’re 10 minute drive from each other. Without all the other things interrupt our sacred bond and thankfully we can catch up where we left off. This note reinforces change in me to connect more often with those I love as they are near and not far

  14. not crazy at all! (although in honesty I hesitate to tell you that only because I love that you called it your ‘secret crazy heart’) if friends are the family you choose, as the saying goes, than what is crazy about moving to be closer to family? I have a similar dream, but mine includes huge gardens so that we can all have houses overflowing with fresh fruit, veggies and flowers that we share.

  15. YES! Here’s what I’ve thought about and come to realize: Our choices reflect what we value most. When our choice of where we live is based on financial, convenience, or other physical comfort––aren’t we saying those are what we value? As a soon-to-be-graduated-from-college-and-living-on-my-own-wherever-I-want person, I’m doing my best to resolve to make friendships a higher priority than finances and convenience in my living decisions…. but its hard! Our culture will much more readily accept, “I’m moving to xyz because of this great job” over “I’m moving to xyz because I have great, life-giving friendships there.” But that’s just something I’ll have to get used to. I think part of it is knowing that jobs are not irreplaceable, but friends are. My best friend and I dream about living next door to each other, our husbands being friends, raising our babies together, actually doing life together. Frankly, it’s a lost art to be committed to a relationship. We readily recognize our inability to be committed in marriages (higher divorce rates, infidelity, etc.), but what’s never talked about is reluctancy to be committed in friendships.

  16. So many of my texts also include something along the lines of “I wish we were closer.” My family and all of my childhood and college friends live on the other side of the country. I miss them so much and it makes me sad that think that (when we have them) our kids won’t get have the experience that I did of having grandparents and other family just a few minutes away.

    I am SO thankful for technology that keeps me connected and in communication with them even though we are so far apart physically.

  17. I moved for love about 14 years ago and while marrying him is one of the best decisions I ever made, I still deeply miss the friendships I left in TN, I have never even come close to replacing them and fear I never will.

    We did move next to 3 friends, even built houses to be near each other, it did not end well, we all moved away, seems there is a huge difference between being friends and neighbors, maybe too much time together shifts a lot in a friendship, I do mourn for what it could have been.

  18. I do not think that moving for friendship is silly in even the slightest sense. I am incredibly lucky and blessed to have a best friend who is doing exactly that for me. We were best friends growing up and have lived apart for 6 years now. I feel very compelled to stay in my current state for various reasons, and this beautiful friend of mine is going to pack up all her belongings and move cross-country with no job lined up or any solid plans at all. She is moving here simply because she loves me and because we both know that we need one another and that we live life better when we are together.

  19. My husband and I have recently been discussing this – but from a different stage in life now. Our kids are in their 20’a – most of our friends kids too, and we hear people talking about buying a place to retire, away from where we all are now.

    It makes me sad.

    Life gets hard in different ways once retired – family problems, health problems, and yes, even marriage problems still. To be away from the network of friends that so much of life was experienced with – to choose to be away from people that know you so well, that know your secrets and still love you, that have sat in hospital waiting rooms for days, that have prayed through the really tough times in a marriage or for your kids. Who love your kids like their own….to intentionally leave that seems wasteful.

    We’ve decided to stay close to our church, and the community that has filled our hearts for the last couple decades – it’s too valuable a gift to walk away from.

    When we get the bug to leave….we go on vacation, but plan to always come back home.

  20. We recently moved from the Chicago area, (Willow Creek church), to Atlanta area, (North Point church), to be near friends. We were up for a move anywhere we wanted to go in the country, and it is the friendship that brought us here, along with the weather! No snow this winter for the first time in our 30 years of marriage!

    These friends have been a blessing to us, and it is wonderful to be able to share our lives with them. I believe as you do Shauna, that friendship is Gods evidence here on earth.

  21. My neighborhood has become what you are dreaming of….over the years as I have intentionally loved, cared for, prayed for, opened my door to my neighbors. In 1989 a small seed of a Neighborhood Bible Study was begun with these women that has produced bushes of fruit and forever friendships!

    nbs2go.com shares the stories and provides simple tips and tools to begin what you have always dreamed of….right out your front door!
    We just launched the site…..invite you to take a look!

  22. Oh, this is my life story. We live in a completely different state than our closest, dearest friends. And I wish SO badly to be doing life physically with them instead if through texts & phone calls and once or twice a year visits. Just last week I sent out a “wish we were neighbors …” text to at least 3 dear friends. Hard thing is that we don’t live near our families either and our families don’t live near our friends so moving to be closer to either one means not being close to the other. I struggle with “how would our families feel if we moved near friends instead of them”? But I want both! I want it all. And I want everything you said in this post. Dinners and bringing up our children together. My only consolation when’s get down about it all is heaven, how perfect that will be. But yes, still really want to move to be near friends.

  23. Absolutely! We have one life to live and it seems so meaningless to live it without the people who know you and love you. It is rare to find people that you want to do life with.

  24. Yes!! Not at all crazy! We are currently looking for a house to rent and have gone so far as to try to find a huge mansion to rent with some friends of ours because we think it would be so much fun! 4 adults and 3 kids under one roof! As my friends start to settle down and buy houses this is something we are thinking about. How fun would it be for our kids to go to school together, to dances and football games, and share lots of family dinners?? I totally get it!

  25. Far from crazy…..just reading your post filled my eyes with tears. I miss my friends so badly and would move in a heart beat to be close, to be able to have our kids grow up together. I would tell anyone contemplating a move, be careful when leaving your family and friends and all you ever knew…….you’ll miss it like you never thought possible!

  26. Being married to someone in the military means that we have to move every three years or so… and consequently, I am always saying goodbye to close friends….and now I one or two close friends all over the place. I miss them all. I often forget that they do not know each OTHER. I love that God shows us Himself and His love for us through friendship.

  27. If I had my way, heaven would be a big dorm mansion…. so whenever I walk out my door I just walk next door with my coffee cup and life would be complete :) And btw, there are plenty of houses for sale in my neighborhood…. I’d even welcome you with soup, or cookies, or a helping hand depending on the day… even if i didn’t know it was you :)

  28. we live this life! in a small urban neighborhood called kenmore in northeast ohio… there is a non-prof who seeks to connect our community to christ and the church. there are 40 of us who have moved into the neighborhood to love our neighbors and each other… we work together. eat together. share clothes. cars. and groceries. we love each other’s children. and walk together through hard seasons. we enjoy impromptu girls nights. and basketball games. and sweet corn cookouts. it really is abundance!

  29. My dear dear friends moved today… we live on a mtn and had a trail back and forth from our homes… I always knew I was so blessed to have had them so close for 8 years… but cried like a baby when they drove away today, and when I read this blog. I feel like you are an angel for me and everytime I read something of yours … its very timely in my life. Thank you for your words Shauna…. You have no idea the power you have!

  30. I probably think about this daily! My closest friends all live far away, but my best friend of 26 years lives 40 minutes away and I always tell her life would be so much better if she moved closer. I guess I can handle that distance compared to one who is in Illinois. Mine and my husband’s families all live here in the Austin area so we just can’t move. And that’s the case with my closest friends too!

  31. 8 months ago, we moved 1 block south, just 424 feet, to live across the street from several of our dearest friends. Though we live in Southern California, we know and are regularly in each other’s homes. At least once weekly we come together for a potluck dinner. My 5 year old walks two doors down (without me) to play with her same age friend. My neighbor across the street takes all of our kids to the same public school most days of the week, and brings them all home every day as well. There is tremendous diversity amongst us, but we value living together in this little community, and I can’t imagine that any one of us would move. It’s a little bit of heaven on earth.

  32. I’ve worked through the same kinda questions, although for me it is a question of whether to stay. Living where I am now i have quite a few good friends and a good church within a suburb or two radius. I could likely gain access to a better range of job opportunities and a higher salary if I moved several states away. I’ve been strongly encouraged by relatives to move. I’ve decided that friendships are worth investing in, even if it makes my work life more challenging.

  33. We did this very thing in August. We moved back to be near our friends that are like family. For 5 years my husband had been asking to be able to work remotely and it wasn’t until he gave his notice that they finally agreed. We bought the closest house for sale by our closest friends. We barely looked at it before making an offer. My husband and I love good architecture & design but we bought an ugly house due to it’s proximity to our friends. We only know how to “live life together” if we are really close. We haven’t regretted the decision once. We will make the house look good over time, but that walking to each others homes all day everyday. That you can’t alter. It is. And for us it was worth it.

    (Now if I could just our little gang into Santa Barbara.)

  34. we did this! we moved across town when our kids were in jr. high. to a neighborhood with a few of our best friends. we got a little golf cart and carried pot luck food back and forth 3-5 nights a week….doing dinner & life & growing our kids up together. sooooo worth the MOVE. added richness & FUN & story to our family….we’re still there. our kids are all off to college & NoW were enjoying empty nests together!!!! a blast!!! do it, shauna!!!! won’t regret it….I promise;)

  35. My mom’s best friend of 20 years moved from FL to NY to live near here when her husband retired. I’ve always wanted a friend like that. Meanwhile, I live an hour from my best friend and I often long for next-door-neighbor experiences in our relationship.

    One antidote I have found to this conundrum: befriending the gal who DOES live next door. I think if we are asking the question “why don’t friends live closer together?” we could also ask “why can’t those who live near become friends?” My next door neighber may not be my soul mate, but we do have a great relationship because we live near each other. Don’t overlook the friend next door! ;)

  36. We did this actually- bought houses within walking distance with two other families and settled in to life together. It is sweet and SO worth it.

  37. Having just moved from my dearest and coming up on one year from seeing another soul sister, this speaks deeply to me. God moves and arranges lives, and being pulled physically away from deep friendships is part of the Lord placing eternity in my heart. Oh, heaven is going to be a par-tay!!!

  38. Not crazy at all! I am slowly “collecting” my girlfriends and their husbands to our suburb of choice so that we can raise our babies together and be lifemates. True, deep friendships are one of God’s biggest blessings, and when you have those in your life, I think it makes perfect sense to structure your life around them.

  39. I just wanted to say that you all are SO so very blessed to have these friendships!! Just to have friends that you would love to build communities with is amazing to me :) I long for this & continue to pray for these kinds of friends ~ we have moved lots, & it has been difficult to build those deep rooted, laugh your guts out, talk about anything friends, but God has taught me to do life with Him & my family & just love on people, & in time (it always takes TIME :)), to keep hope that it can happen.

  40. AMEN! My dearest friend, Jane, & I talk about how we are going to make this very concept a reality practically every time we speak! We are trying really hard to be in the same area in 5 years or less so we are setting goals to help get us there :)

  41. Oh how i love this…let me count the ways.
    I just found your blog yesterday.

    I’m visiting India right now and staying with new friends I recently met here. We have been joking about my moving to India so we can stay close!

    Thank you for writing this so perfectly. It brought a few tears of joy from this reader.

  42. Been thinking about this as some dear friends of mine are moving to answer Gods call to plant a church. I’ve been crying for weeks over it and will probably still as I adjust to life after they go this week. It’s hard to picture life without them, which makes me wonder what it would be like to do life with them and other friends all in the same place? However when I moved here 4 years ago I thought the same about the friends I left out of state, and God brought me a boatload of new friends I call family. Would we miss his opportunities to bring new ppl if we stay in our bubble?

  43. I ALWAYS tell my good friend “we need to live closer because a really good cup of coffee with you sounds so nice right now!!”, who lives clear across the US :( but I guess Facebook does its job connecting two worlds, Arizona and S Carolina.

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