It often feels to me as if this is true. I lived in Basingstoke in the UK for over three years and I didn’t know my neighbours, the shop assistants in my local Coop showed no sign of recognition despite the number of times I shopped there and I rarely saw anyone I knew on the street. I moved to Copenhagen and within a few months I was on friendly but not over friendly terms with my new neighbours, I regularly saw people I knew on the street and people in shops recognised me.
It is also seems that most people know someone you know. It is a great way to make friends and contacts, but not so much if you want to be anonymous.
I moved to Berlin and despite living in a small neighbourhood I was back to the UK situation again. With some hard work on my part I made acquaintance with my neighbours but I think they just thought I was a bit crazy and they humoured me.
And then back to Copenhagen I reentered the village atmosphere. I have lived in our current address for just over a year and the people in the bakeries nearby know my favourites, the cafe owners speak to me in the street, when they don’t have to, I see the same faces around on a daily basis and I find it warm and comforting. I know a number of local business owners and artists and I would count some as friends now. I know that if I needed help in an emergency there are people, who frankly are really strangers, I could call on. When my son was sick earlier this year, the artist couple who’s house faces our kitchen and with whom we are on hello and waving terms, offered to drive us to the hospital when they saw what was happening.
I realise that this is my immediate neighbourhood, I am home a lot during the day and I am chatty but I love the feeling that I am part of a wider community that smiles and cares.