The pros and cons of dating in your neighbourhood

Article by Jemimah Clegg /
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February 12, 2018 /
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Joanne Veres, 37, found dating difficult in the past. Not necessarily because of the people she was seeing, but because of where they lived.

“You’ve got to put in such an effort and you have to plan it,” Ms Veres says. “For me it was ‘oh I can’t be bothered’, I guess I was looking for an out or an excuse.

Five months ago, she decided to try to meet someone who lived close to her Melbourne CBD home, so she went to a speed-dating night specifically for singles who live in the city.

She met Joseph, and the pair hit it off.

“We really connected,” she says. “I think both of us being able to go out and explore and see things in our area and not have to travel too far, it’s been great.”

For Ms Veres, living a quick tram ride from her date has been a great experience. But what happens when relationships turn sour? Is it smart to search for singles close to home – or should you factor in a buffer zone?

University of Melbourne social sciences lecturer Lauren Rosewarne says the closer you live to your date, the more likely it is that you run in the same social circles, making it a little awkward if things don’t work out.

“Most dates won’t end up with you walking down the aisle, so having to see that person from that bad one night stand at Woolworths or at the post office will not only be embarrassing, but exists as something that can happen repeatedly,” Dr Rosewarne says.

The CBD has a higher proportion of singles than any other suburb – with more than half its population not married or in a de facto relationship, according to 2016 census data.

We Click Dating host Benny Statovski helps match up singles in the city, and also had his own experience dating a woman who lived nearby – just one floor above his apartment.

Mr Statovski met the woman upstairs at a house-warming party he held after moving into the building. They got along well, and started catching up regularly to use the building’s gym together. Before long they were in a relationship.

“Friends were giving me the famous idiom of not ‘doing something’ where you eat,” he says.

He paid them no mind, and loved having someone nearby to catch up with for a last-minute movie or a weeknight dinner – but it soon became a bit too intense.

“It was like we put the relationship in the microwave and nuked it,” he says.

After three months, they broke up. Mr Statovski bumped into her a couple of times in the building’s gym, which he says was more than a bit uncomfortable.

“I had to pay to join another gym even though there’s a free one in my building,” he says.

Relationships expert Samantha Jayne says when dating someone in your neighbourhood, it’s important to take it slow – just as you would with any other new flame.

“Especially if they’re super-close like neighbours or in the same building,” Ms Jayne says. “Be sure they’re the person you want to date, because there are consequences if it breaks down.”

She said despite this, dating someone who lives in the same area can mean you have more in common.

“They might have a mutual lifestyle interest – if two people are living in the city, they love that inner-city living as opposed to someone who lives in the country or the suburbs.”

Dr Rosewarne says though you both might love going out for a drink or a great meal, it’s a good idea to avoid your favourite places when you date someone who lives nearby.

“You still want to be able to return there without bad memories attached after your romance fizzles out,” she says.

For Ms Veres, it wasn’t so much about an awkward encounter if the relationship ended, but about bumping into her new beau on the street at the beginning.

“I’m a smoker, and I’m trying to quit, so it’s something I don’t talk about in the first instance,” she says.

The worry that he might see her in the street with a cigarette in hand made her come clean earlier than she normally would.

“I decided just to be honest – it took him aback a bit because he’s not a smoker, but it hasn’t impacted us.”

Dr Rosewarne cautions people not to give away too much information – such as exactly where they live – too soon.

“While it’s almost entirely likely your date isn’t a serial killer, best err on the side of caution,” she says.

Mr Statovski’s ex eventually moved out of his building. He says he wouldn’t date someone that close again, but he’d still consider seeing someone from the same neighbourhood.

Ms Vares says the convenience and simplicity of dating someone nearby far outweighs any possible consequences.

“We’re having a lot of good fun – it’s just easy,” she says.