There is “common knowledge” about what the personalities are like in different parts of the country.
This body of knowledge told me that the people in the northeast—where I’m originally from—are rude and standoffish and always in a hurry—and that life is slower and people are friendlier in AZ.
I’m here to tell you that this “common knowledge” is wrong. (I can’t speak to its accuracy about other parts of the country, but feel free to fill me in!)
First, life is not slower here. People are in just as big a hurry—there just aren’t as many ways to get from here to there, and there aren’t as many people.
And, I think because most people here are from somewhere else, driving here is insane. I think everyone brings their region’s unwritten rules about driving with them, but everyone else doesn’t know them, and it’s just a mess. There are a ridiculous number of accidents, and most of the time, no weather to blame them on…
We’ve lived in this house for a year now and have met three of the neighbors: next door on one side came over, greeted us, brought cookies. On the other side, they have a bunch of kids and The Kid has played with them. We met their dad (presumably) when he came over to talk to us about tree roots disrupting the property line. And one other neighbor we met once.
I have to tell you—I don’t think that’s friendly.
We all have 6-foot concrete walls around our back yards. They call them fences here. Where I grew up, if there were fences, they were chain link or three-rail wood fences. Fences where you’d still have a conversation over or through the fence. You could see if the kids were playing. We knew all of our neighbors. (Maybe that has changed since I’ve been gone.)
I don’t notice a difference in friendliness in retail locations.
People here are more likely to require you to be like them in order to be friendly or accepting; there’s an undercurrent of hostility.
And there are snowbirds. They do not enhance the region.
Back east, there is a straightforwardness** and a lack of patience that I can see coming across as rudeness to people who aren’t used to it. Honestly, I think the only difference truly is volume of people. You don’t have 50 people trying to cram on a train car here. Because public transportation is for poor people. (This was a common opinion while debating whether or not to build the light rail.)
And sure, there are plenty of people in the northeast who are certifiably rude. But there’s no shortage of them here, either.
I don’t find Arizona—at least the Phoenix area—to be any friendlier or more laid back than Jersey was.
But the house next door and the house across the street are both going up for sale in the coming months. (Well, one for sure, and the other we’re assuming; might just be for rent.) I’m hopeful for excellent neighbors. And plan to go and greet them after they move in.
**What’s funny about the “straightforwardness” is that it’s pretty common—maybe to the point where it’s the norm, but I can’t say for sure—for people’s families to be champions at passive aggression. There is nothing straightforward about how families interact, except when they’re aggressive-aggressive.