Snooper Scooper

Most of us have some Gladys Kravitz in our makeup — whether we're a full-on nosy neighbor (like the character in Bewitched) or just a touch curious about the inside of the Stephens house down the street.

While our annual Rating the Suburbs feature has primarily focused on the best places to live in Northeast Ohio with rankings for safety, education, taxes and other factors, it's also indulged our inner snoop. This year we've gone even further, asking Clevelanders about life in suburbia, prying into semi-important status questions like the size of your largest TV (42 percent of those who took our survey own at least a 47-inch model) and whether lawn ornaments of any kind are appropriate under any circumstances (27 percent indicate that they're not).

And don't act like you don't care. According to our survey, we also know that 68 percent of you have looked up the value of your neighbor's house online and more than a third have gone to a real estate open house just to scope the place out.

Even if you're nosy about the house or town next door, just as many residents adore where they live, whether it's Cleveland Heights for its architecture, walkability and proximity to University Circle; Bay Village for the family atmosphere, lake access and lack of commercialization or Solon (this year's No. 1 suburb in our rankings) for the great schools, city services and its ethnic, religious and economic diversity. We also recognize that some of our readers don't want any part of the suburbs at all: 11.5 percent of respondents would choose to live in the city if money were no object.

But being a good neighbor is important no matter where you live. So our Suburban Field Guide has tips for hiring a baby sitter (expect to pay between $10 and $12 an hour with another $1 per hour for each additional child), the appropriate time to open your garage sale (8 a.m. is fine according to half our respondents) and two tasty dishes for your next block party potluck. "Really great neighbors can be like an extension of family, and families pitch in to support one another," says Sari Feldman, a Shaker Heights resident and Cuyahoga County Public Library executive director. And that's something even Gladys Kravitz would approve.

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