By Mary Boone
SEATTLE (Zillow) — Neighborhood matters. In fact, for many buyers the neighborhood can be more important than house size when it comes to deciding where to live.
It seems most folks want to live in neighborhoods that are walkable, with easy access to public transportation, restaurants and shopping. They also want to live in places where they get along with those around them.
Creating that comfortable, know-your-neighbors kind of atmosphere isn’t difficult. In fact, it can happen one random act of kindness at a time. Perform a selfless act to help or cheer up a neighbor and you’ll actually be helping yourself — studies prove it.
According to researcher and author David R. Hamilton, performing a kind act releases oxytocin — the same hormone that surges when you hold your baby or cuddle a kitten — and temporarily lowers blood pressure. “Kindness is literally good for your heart,” he explains.
In an effort to improve both your health and the place you live, here’s a list of 35 kind acts you could perform for neighbors. Don’t be limited by the list; rather, consider it a kindness starting point:
Decorate a neighbor’s door or fence with a wreath.
Rake someone’s leaves.
Pick up trash that’s blown along the street or gutters.
Shovel a stranger’s sidewalk or driveway.
Ask someone you see on the street “How are you?” — and mean it.
Bake some cookies for your neighbor.
Call a neighbor you haven’t talked to in a while.
Give someone a flower — or a dozen.
Leave a kind note on a neighbor’s car windshield.
Hold the elevator.
Invite someone who lives alone over for dinner.
Introduce yourself to someone you always see around.
Hold the door open for someone.
Clean up graffiti.
Send a thank-you note to the staff at your local police or fire station.
Help someone unload their groceries.
Greet your mail carrier with hot chocolate on a snowy day or a cold water bottle on a warm day.
Share fresh produce with your neighbors.
Someone new moving into the neighborhood? Help them carry in a few boxes.
Give directions to someone who’s lost.
Mow a neighbor’s lawn.
Pick up groceries for someone who has difficulties getting out.
Bring in your neighbor’s trashcans.
Help change a tire.
Buy coffee for the person waiting behind you at the local coffee shop.
Improve a struggling family’s summer by buying them a season pass to the local swimming pool.
Leave your neighbors a note that tells them how much you admire their flowers.
Deliver a bouquet of flowers to a nearby nursing home.
Leave a copy of a book you love, with a note for the next reader, at your neighborhood cafe.
Write kind but anonymous notes; discreetly distribute them in public places for strangers to find.
Go to your local library and ask if you can pay someone’s fines.
Buy a dozen bottles of bubbles and attach a fun note to each one. Leave the bottles at homes along your street.
Buy inexpensive shovels and buckets and leave them in the sandbox in a local park.
Help a neighbor water or weed his garden.
Launch a neighborhood campaign to collect food for a nearby shelter.
More from Zillow:
Good Neighbors Talk Before Building Fences
Hate Thy Neighbor: Shocking Neighborhood Stories