All over the world people are seeking out neighbourhoods that offer them the possibility of a quieter life, a safer environment in which to bring up their children and a chance to be more "connected" with their community.
"And the effect this has on home values," says Harcourts Africa CEO Richard Gray, "is very evident from the premiums that homebuyers are prepared to pay to live in golf estates and other gated developments, not just in SA but in many other countries.
"But this doesn’t mean that traditional suburbs and towns cannot be just as attractive - if their residents are prepared to co-operate in the same way as people do in sectional title complexes and estates."
Many benefits can flow from something as simple as a friendly greeting when out walking the dog or when new neighbours move in, he says, including things like shared school trips or babysitting, and neighbours who will keep an eye on your property when you’re away, take in your mail, water the garden, hold your key to allow deliveries and contact you in case of an emergency.
"However, being a good neighbour is a two-way street. Mowing the lawn or running a power saw at the crack of dawn, particularly on a Sunday or public holiday, is not likely to endear you to your neighbours. Holding rowdy parties every other night and a TV constantly at full volume is also likely to cause friction, while pets can also be a problem.
"The exuberant barking of a young dog, for example, may enchant its new family, but it won’t sound the same to neighbours who have to get up early to go to work. Your pets need to be kept under control before you can reasonably expect - and request - the same of your neighbours."
Parking can be another sensitive issue, says Gray, especially in areas where there is not a lot of off-street parking for visitors.
"If you’re having lots of guests over you should let your neighbours know and then make sure that no-one blocks off their driveways. In the same way you can expect your neighbours not to turn their front gardens into used car lots or junkyards."
Indeed, co-operative efforts to keep the whole area clean, maintained and crime-free can pay big dividends in terms of home resale values, he says, so residents should be keen to become involved in their local ratepayers’ associations, community police forums and neighbourhood watch services.
"Living in a desirable area benefits everyone who owns a home there so everyone should be prepared to pitch in to keep it that way."