Archived,  Seattle

Hey Neighbor, Can I Borrow a Cup o’ Sugar?

One of the biggest things that have been missing from my life since we moved to the U.S. is the sense of community that comes from greeting neighbors. It’s something that’s lacking in a lot of the places I’ve lived, especially as a single 20-something. I know that it exists when it comes to mothers or just life in the suburbs. Otherwise, everyone just goes on about their day without even a glance at another person’s direction. We’re all just in a hurry to get to wherever we’re going that even on an elevator ride, we can’t be bothered to say ‘Hello’.

I’ve always missed it.

When I first started coming down to Ballard, even when I lived 40 minutes away in Mill Creek, I couldn’t really quite figure out what I loved about it. Maybe it was just that my friends were here and they gave me a sense of belonging. Then I moved to Crown Hill – close enough to Ballard but still not quite there.

Then I moved into my new apartment on the main street, where I am literally within walking distance of everywhere I could want to go in Ballard.

In the last week alone, I’ve felt a sense of community, starting in my own lobby. Even though it was the first thing in the morning (which is the anti-social hour for many of us), my neighbor riding in the elevator with me said “Good morning” and when the elevator stopped at the 4th floor, they also greeted the person getting on the elevator. This isn’t a rare occurrence.

It’s something about this building. This neighborhood. This little corner of Seattle.

I notice it when walking around. I notice it when the neighborhood is bustling on a Friday night or when it’s just waking up early on a Tuesday morning. I notice it when I enter a coffee shop – or one of my favorite bars. I notice it in the little vintage shops or the consignment store.

It’s a different kind of feeling – one that has been missing in my life for a long time.

Am I going to get to a point of knowing all of my neighbors and feeling comfortable enough to knock on their door to borrow a cup of sugar? Probably not.

But I bet I’ll start to learn their names and their dogs’ names as time goes on – and sometimes, even that little bit of recognition goes a long way.

Do you know your neighbors? Is there a sense of community where you live?

Did you miss my 2014 recap blog? You can read it here.


  • Vanessa

    I don’t know my neighbors particularly well, but we say hello and chat a bit when we see each other in common areas of our building. Those interactions are always nice and I really enjoy them!

  • Mandi Holmes

    I really only know one of my neighbors… She is the SWEETEST lady, and we chat every time we run into each other. One day I hope to live in more of a community. I want to make it a point to get to know my neighbors.
    PS you are SO LUCKY to live in Seattle. We love it there!

    • Berrak

      Seattle is amazing and I love it! It’s awesome that you even have that one neighbor – until this apartment, I didn’t know any of my neighbors in the places I lived.

  • kylaroma

    It’s great that you’re getting back that piece that you’ve been missing! I know my neighbours pretty well because they’re really outgoing and involved in eachothers lives, and have made a big effort to have community parties all through the summer. Most people have been on the block for 20+ years, and they welcomed us in like we had been too! It took a little adjusting (introvert alert!) but I really love the community feeling.

    • Berrak

      I definitely have moments of where my introvert takes over and I only walk into the building when I have my headphones in – but I’m trying to do better and at least make eye contact with people! It’s awesome that you have such a great community 🙂

  • Shaina Longstreet

    I don’t live in a place where there is a sense of community. I have found it at my local theater though. I was in the Pajama Game production this fall, and became so close to my cast-mates. I really enjoyed reading your post. Glad you’ve found a place that feels this way for you. 🙂

    • Berrak

      Hey Shaina, thanks for the comment! I’ve actually thought about doing community theater or taking some improv classes. Maybe I’ll look into that this year 🙂

  • Julia Garza

    We live out in the ‘burbs, and our neighborhood has a high ratio of rental homes… it’s definitely harder to feel a sense of community when your neighbors only stick around for a year or two. We are friendly with our neighbors on one side of us and I love that. It’s nice to have you can call on in a pinch.

    • Berrak

      Julia, living in a place with a high ratio of rental homes can definitely make it more difficult to form a community. Glad you’re close with your neighbors though!

  • Hannelene

    We used to joke that we lived in Melrose place, because we were all together all the time. In fact, once I started having babies, both their godparents were neighbors. As an expat, making friends immediately is vital to my success in a new location. SOmetimes, you just have to be there change you want to see. So great that you found the place where you feel at home!

  • John Thuku

    I can’t say that I know my neighbours very well. We just say “Hi” to each other but that’s about it.

  • Mai Tran

    I like my neighborhood since they mind their own business and I do mine. Small talks are rare but saying hello is often.