Home Buying Nightmares: 12 Worst Neighbors in Television History

Americans love old TV shows. Between cable, satellite, and online streaming, you can create a virtual world populated with your favorite characters from television's past. But what if you had to look for a home in that world?

What you might find is that some of the characters who made for entertaining viewing would not make such good neighbors. Below is a list of the 12 worst neighbors (or groups of neighbors) in television history, followed by some tips for avoiding such annoying neighbors when it comes to choosing a real-world house or an apartment.

The 12 Worst Neighbors in Television History

You've just settled into your new place, and there's a knock at the door -- someone from the neighborhood has stopped by to welcome you. The following are the faces from television neighborhoods that you would least want to see, listed from twelfth-worst to worst:

12. Gladys Kravitz, from Bewitched. Gladys may well have been television's prototypical nosy neighbor, always peeping through a curtain just in time to see something she shouldn't. This is especially bothersome if members of your family are practicing witchcraft.

11. Fred Sanford, from Sanford and Son. Though verbally abusive, Fred was a pretty funny guy, but who wants to live next to a junkyard? Plus, every time you drove behind that old truck, you'd have to be ready to swerve when an old lamp or box spring tumbled off.

10. Oscar Madison, from the Odd Couple. Oscar was a loveable slob, but he was also a health hazard. Infestations have their way of spreading, so you face the awkward choice of constantly spraying a perimeter of Lysol and Raid around your place, or calling the Haz-Mat team on your neighbor.

9. Larry, Darryl, and Darryl, from Newhart. Unless you're George Foreman, who gives two brothers the same name? Beyond that, the real problem with having Larry, Darryl, and Darryl as neighbors comes down to simple math: take noisy and eccentric redneck ways and add questionable personal hygiene. Then multiply by three, and you have these guys.

8. Lenny and Squiggy, from Laverne & Shirley. These guys embodied a classic trait of annoying TV neighbors -- they felt free to walk right in your place at any time. If you see these guys living next door, invest in a good lock, and possibly an alarm system.

7. Kramer and Newman, from Seinfeld. Kramer carried on the no-respect-for-privacy tradition of Lenny and Squiggy, while Newman represented another TV archetype -- the constant schemer who can't be trusted. So, see the above advice about locks and alarms, and try to avoid using the mail.

6. Fred and Wilma, from the Flintstones. Imagine dealing with Dino doo-doo on your lawn, and some guy next door constantly bellowing "WILMA!" at the top of his lungs. Plus, they never wore shoes - how sanitary can that be?

5. The Kramdens, from the Honeymooners. The characters from the Flintstones are often said to have been based loosely on the Honeymooners, and at least the Kramdens didn't have any pets. However, while some guy constantly threatening his wife may have passed for humor in the 1950s, most 21st century Americans would feel uncomfortable with that coming from next door.

4. The Addams Family, from The Addams Family. Now we're getting down to the hardcore of bad neighbors, where it goes from merely bothersome to property-value-lowering. Morticia and Gomez actually had their charms, but beyond that the family was, as the theme song said, "all together ooky."

3. The Munsters, from The Munsters. This show ran during the exact same years as the Addams Family, and some people confuse the two, so why rate the Munsters as worse neighbors? Well, first, while the Addams family may have acted on the creepy side of kinky, the Munsters were actual monsters. Plus, their house was a total eyesore, the kind of place that would make house hunters drive on to their next appointment if it was next door.

2. Nucky Thompson, from Boardwalk Empire. Sure, he was personable and a respected public official (at least at first), but once the body count from his side business started to mount, he zoomed far up the list of bad neighbors.

1. Walter White, from Breaking Bad. See the above issue of body count, plus dealing meth is  more harmful than bootlegging booze. Also, you'd have to figure that at least Nucky would throw better parties than Walt. So, if that mild-mannered teacher next door suddenly shaves his head, get a "For Sale" sign on your lawn, pronto.

How Do You Avoid Bad Neighbors?

There may not be much you can do if people like that move in next to you, but you should be able to avoid the mistake of buying a house or apartment next to an overly obnoxious or even dangerous neighbor. Here are some tips:

  1. Google the street name. Look for local news stories of crimes or other incidents.
  2. Consider the distance. The physical distance between your house and the next can make the difference between "waving neighbors" and having some loudmouth in your ear.
  3. Do the eye test. Look at the neighboring properties. Are the houses and lawns well maintained? Remember, any house that looks bad effectively makes the neighborhood look bad.
  4. Revisit. Sure, you aren't Lenny or Squiggy, so you can't just drop in on people unannounced. However, you can drive or walk by on a weekend evening, to see if the neighborhood is settling down peacefully or beginning to get rowdy.
  5. Check the portion of renters vs. owners. Typically, the more residents who have an ownership stake in the neighborhood, the more pride they will have in its appearance and decorum.
  6. Take a stroll. Don't just visit the property you are interested in - take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood on a nice afternoon. That should give you a chance to see, and possibly meet, some of the neighbors. You can decide whether these are your type of folks, or if they look like they sleep upside down.

Happy hunting - and when you find a place, don't forget to be a good neighbor yourself. You never know -- the guy next door might be a TV writer.

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