Our neighbors moved away this week. Not just out of our neighborhood, but out of state and halfway across the country. They’ve been our neighbors for well over half the time we’ve been in our home, which will be eight years on the first of next month. Our son has known them to be our neighbors and friends his entire life, as they’ve been a fixture in the neighborhood as well as regulars on our weekend adventures.

While I fully understand their reasons for moving away, that doesn’t make their departure any less sad. I meant to begin writing this post earlier in the week, but I find myself here only on Thursday evening as it just felt too raw and official to write about it before now. Really, it feels too soon even now, but I wanted this post to stand as some small tribute to what it was like to be so lucky to be their neighbors for so long.

Leavenworth trip three years ago

Saturday night was their bigger going away party, which started at one of the breweries down the hill and ended with a bonfire and barbecue up at our home later in the day with a mix of neighbors and other local friends of theirs.

Another neighbor family wasn’t able to attend on Saturday though, so we continued the going away celebration with an impromptu shared meal together on Monday night. We ended staying up much later than a typical weeknight, but none of us could seem to bear to end the bittersweet celebration earlier than we did.

Monday night send off

And then on Tuesday, the final day before they left, other neighbors of ours came down to help finish cleaning the house out (a great way to help neighborhood teenagers earn a few extra dollars), and then they sent us a message to come on down to take home some of the last pantry goods that they wouldn’t be taking with them.

We all ended up staying and chatting for a while until they headed (late) to dinner with some other friends, and with lots of tight hugs and tears in our eyes, we bade them “until next time” and walked up the hill home. I know we will adventure with them in the future, both in the Pacific Northwest and in their new home as well as elsewhere, but will never be the same as having them a few hundred yards away. We are so very lucky to know them and to have had the time so close to them that we did.

Friday’s Frugal Five

Since today’s post is going to be centered around those neighbors in particular, instead of focusing on simply what happened this past week, these Frugal Five are going to be more generally about our life with them as friends and neighbors. If you don’t know your neighbors well, I would encourage you to make an attempt to get to know them better, because there are few things better than people who feel like family and live on your street.

1. Our neighbors have been some of our most constant travel companions over the last handful of years. When we did travel together, we often went camping, which makes for a wonderful time out in nature but is also pretty much the cheapest way to take a vacation. Our camping trips varied from the KOA within walking distance of downtown Leavenworth for Oktoberfest, to off road camping along a riverside during hazy fire season to last minute trips to state campgrounds on the Peninsula.

Camping summer 2018 

When we weren’t camping, we would share the cost of a house via Airbnb, where we would cook and share meals together. Especially in the winter in the Pacific Northwest, having a cozy home to stay in together was a great way to spend a weekend (though we’d camp in the winter as well). And while it didn’t always work out, we would carpool when possible, saving on gas and ferry costs.

2. And then of course, it wouldn’t take a planned vacation and an out of town location for us to enjoy a meal together. Random meals, often on weeknights, are a regular occurrence in our neighborhood. Sometimes we plan them out farther in advance and actually have a dinner idea in mind before they happen, but often as not it’s just a mash up of different meals and sides that we all bring together and simply eat together.

During Snowpocolypse alone, we ate seven meals together over the course of five days. While that was an unusual situation and not one that’s likely to be replicated in quite that same way, the repeat of sharing meals together at each other’s home is something that has happened time and time again.

Snowpocolypse hang out 

Not only does this save money over going on to a restaurant meal, it saves us time, as the family who hosts and cooks rotates – and isn’t even the same family on the same night – and that makes it much more possible to spend evenings together on week nights. We don’t have to prepare ahead of time, and we all know what each other’s messy homes look like, so there’s no feeling of needing to have our homes perfect to open them up to each other. They are less of dinner parties and more just doing life together.

3. When one of us is out of town, another will step up to help, be that pet sitting or hauling garbage, recycling, and compost out to the street. We have checked in on their home enough times while they’ve been gone that we almost forgot to return their extra house key, as it wasn’t something we returned in between trips. Whatever the need, there is always a neighbor available to step up and help.

4. The sharing extends beyond taking care of each other’s homes and animals while out of town and includes sharing tools and expertise as exist. My husband has worked with him a number of times on their vehicles, and the work gets done while spending time with each other, which makes it a much more fun endeavor and one that gets accomplished much more quickly.

That sharing included even the sharing of power and heat during the power outage last winter, as we have a generator which had space to power up additional devices and simply made our home a more comfortable spot to hang out it when it was bitterly cold outside.

Snowshoeing up on Snoqualmie Pass

5. Asking for and sharing a cup of sugar is a common concept, but one I doubt most people have actually seen in practice. In our neighborhood, you really can ask down the street for an ingredient needed in a meal, though often enough that can again end in a shared meal once the recipe is complete.

This trading goes beyond pantry items though and includes garden produce, clothes, and other hand me down goods (like the knee pads my husband got just this past week as they were parsing down their last items for the move). They are also expecting their first child this fall, so we were able to hand down a bunch of cloth diapers, baby clothes and other baby items. While it’s not the same is getting to be there for them when the baby arrives, at least we were send them off with a few things that will hopefully make those first few months with a newborn a bit easier.

Exercise Update

While this was a neighbor centered post, I still wanted to keep up my routine of recapping my exercise for the week. Friday was another minimal five minutes on the elliptical, but the total of all the five minute workouts are now in the hours range over the course of this year so far. They definitely still count.

Saturday and Sunday were both spent walking around outside and spending time in the garden. Monday was a total of an hour long run along with a short lifting workout. Tuesday was another run and lift day, and Wednesday was a run and some stretching. Thursday I went on a work related walking tour around Capitol Hill in Seattle, so I got more activity during the workday than is typical on a normal day, so I hit my 12,000 step goal for the day without needed to do anything extra, which is extremely rare for a week day.

Thanks to spending a total of ten hours outside on Saturday between walks, gardening, and the going away party, my hours outdoors for the month of May had accumulated to a total of 47 by the end of day Thursday. Respectable, but just shy of half the 100 hour goal for the month with just under half the days left. When I agreed to this challenge, I didn’t quite realize just how many hours this would be in a typical month and one without a camping trip scheduled.

Do you have any neighbors that you would consider friends? What happens to your relationship when a friend moves out of state?

22 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (Neighbor Edition)

  1. at the height of my laziness i usually dated my neighbors back in the 90’s. that worked out well. we had similar ones to yours when i was a kid and being so remote out in the country it was good to have some kids around. the same 3 families owned those 3 houses (basically the only ones on the road) for about 50 years. they counted on one another in the exact same ways. my neighbor shirley even taught me how to cook when i was an early teen.

    1. Hah. That’s a new one I haven’t seen happen in our neighborhood yet. Love that you experienced the long term neighbors like that though.

  2. I’m sorry for your loss – the grief of others moving away is not something that is often discussed, but it’s real. Our neighbors separated a few months ago, and even though the wife only moved half a mile away, the change is heartbreaking. We have had to get used to seeing the kids only half the time, and when I see my friend out on the town, I monopolize her attention, thirsty for connection. It’s so hard when a relationship that is so easy and convenient becomes something that is anything but.

    1. It’s definitely hard to say goodbye to great neighbors. Most of our goodbyes have been fraught with the feeling of regret for not having spent enough time together. So at least you guys have been spending a lot of time with these neighbors! We have struggled to get to the point of just “doing life together” without need to clean up the house or make big plans. I really hope that when we settle down for awhile, we’ll build more relaxed relationships with our neighbors.

      1. It’s definitely a process that doesn’t happen overnight. The “doing life together” is born out of a slow progression of getting to know each other better I think.

    2. Oh, that is extra hard. I get really emotionally involved when other relationships end :/

      1. Oh, I’m sure. Hard to beat having a good friend within walking distance.

  3. This is so sweet. I’m on the other end of this, in that I moved to a new neighborhood a couple of years ago and even though I was in the same city I was in a totally new place with no immediate connections. We noticed signs up in the neighborhood announcing block meetings and group gardening events when we were still just looking at houses, and started going to community events before we even moved into the neighborhood. It’s amazing how a simple thing like gardening together can create fast friends and also just build trust. We realized that in 6 months of living in our new neighborhood we were on a first name basis with more people than we were after 6 years of our old neighborhood where people didn’t really do these kinds of things together. I don’t like to think of these relationships as purely transactional, but there is so much bartering of time and skills that really is valuable: trading off snow shoveling, computer help, receiving packages, holding on to spare keys, storing gardening equipment, sharing plant cuttings, borrowing lawn chairs for parties…Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    1. Awww I love it! Maybe we need to start putting up signs beyond the one big summer bbq as signals to people looking to move into the neighborhood 🙂

      1. I’m sorry they’ve moved! I hoped they’d change their minds.

        I’ve been working on this with our neighbors but it seems like we’re all in too different of life stages for them to want to gel with us in the same way you’ve been able to do with yours.

      2. They had the family pull for them, and with a baby on the way, it made sense for them. Even so, it still sucks.

  4. Thanks for sharing this Angela. It’s awesome to have neighbors that are so cool and can depend on, it almost like family. It’s tough to say goodbye to people like that and I know it’s easy to connect with him with today’s technology but it won’t be same with them not in your neighborhood anymore.
    This is almost similar but I had a co-worker who just quit about a month ago and we would always hangout during lunch and just shoot the breeze. It was almost like a habit to meet up for lunch on a daily basis. We still communicate by texting and email after he quit but it wasn’t the same to have his presence at work.

    1. Darn! Sorry to hear about your coworker. There is something irreplaceable about people you see every day or close to it.

  5. So sad you’re losing such wonderful neighbors! We thought ours were amazing (and they are!) But you’ve taken it to the next level by becoming close friends. That’s really cool. We’ve lost good friends across the country too and it’s been almost three years, and still no replacement. Can’t and shouldn’t take good Couples friends for granted – they’re precious. Hope you guys keep in touch!

    1. We will absolutely stay in touch with them 🙂 the upside is they’re big travelers and so are we, so we will definitely hang out on trips in the future at the very least.

  6. As Dr. Seuss said, “don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened”. The close-knittedness of your neighborhood is a beautiful thing.

    1. Thank you for those words. Now that it isn’t so fresh I can start to see it that way. Still miss them, though.

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