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What Is The Nextdoor App And Should I Download It?

Lauren Nowacki5-minute read
August 13, 2021

Social media has helped connect people across the country and around the world. But what if you want to meet people a little closer to you? One site, Nextdoor, helps you do just that. Sign up and you’ll be introduced to the people specifically in your neighborhood.

So what is Nextdoor and how can it help you? Read on to find out.

What Is Nextdoor?

Nextdoor is a hyperlocal social media app that connects people by neighborhood and enables them to ask their neighbors questions, get recommendations and share news, replacing the old word-of-mouth grapevine.

The neighborhood information that’s typically shared on Nextdoor includes:

  • Local business recommendations
  • Items for sale by owner
  • Announcements from public agencies
  • Local events
  • Lost and found
  • Homes for sale
  • Safety issues and crime reporting
  • Requests for advice and information on home issues

How Does Nextdoor Work?

You can use Nextdoor on your computer or through the mobile app. Simply visit the website, www.nextdoor.com, or download the app on your mobile device for free from Google Play (Android users) or the App Store (iOS users). Once you’re on the site or have the app, you’ll need to register for free.

While you can browse or follow any neighborhood page, you cannot post, comment or read private posts within that page unless you’re a member of that neighborhood and your address has been verified.

There are two ways to verify your address:

  • You can input your address and have an invitation letter mailed to your home. Upon receiving the letter, you’ll log into Nextdoor and enter the verification code printed on the letter.
  • You can enter your phone number to receive a text message containing a code. Once you receive the code, you’ll enter it in Nextdoor. To verify your address this way, the address you provided must match your phone plan’s billing address.

Once your address is verified, you can join your specific neighborhood and start engaging with neighbors in the same area. The feed is similar to other social media platforms like Facebook, where you can read posts, comment, react and create your own posts – but only on your specific neighborhood page. You can also join local groups of interest, shop local items and even direct message other users.

What Is Nextdoor Used For?

The most common uses of Nextdoor include lost and found objects or pets, noise complaints, local issues, home repair questions and “suspicious sightings.” Nextdoor is also commonly used by people new to an area and those who are seeking recommendations for local services. You’ll also find advertising by local businesses.

What Is Nextdoor Best For?

The app facilitates getting to know neighbors and sharing hyperlocal information. Here are a few ways Nextdoor can be most useful for you:

Disasters And Local Hazards

The site can be useful when it comes to notifying neighbors about a local hazard, like a downed power line, water main breaks or nearby car accidents affecting traffic. It’s even partnered with FEMA to provide emergency information.

Local Businesses And Side Hustles

When you want to learn more about local businesses, Nextdoor can be a great way to do so. On top of reviewing the business’s page, you can also get updates from the business, see who’s open for takeout and delivery, review deals and ask your neighbors about their experiences there.

If you have a business, side hustle, or items to sell, you can use Nextdoor to make some extra money. List items for sale or post about your side hustle, like dog walking or freelancing, to pick up a few extra clients.

COVID-19 Resources

Nextdoor was and continues to be a valuable resource linking neighbors to COVID-19 resources. During the height of the pandemic, many used the site to connect with and check in on neighbors and learn more about state and local mask mandates and lockdowns. Now, the social network site offers a vaccine map, where users can find nearby pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccines.

Resource For Prospective Buyers

While you cannot join a neighborhood page until your address is verified, you can still follow a neighborhood page to get insight on what it’s like to live in the area and who their neighbors will be. If you’re thinking of buying a home in a specific neighborhood, consider checking it out on Nextdoor. You’ll be able to see nearby businesses and read posts from your future neighbors – as long as the post is set for “Anyone” to read.

Recommendations, Advice and Help

One of the best, most encouraging features of Nextdoor is when neighbors use it to help one another. Here are a few examples:

  • Asking for and offering recommendations for local businesses and places of interest, including restaurants, salons, home improvement and repairs, shops, schools and more.
  • Offering delivery to homebound seniors.
  • Donating food and supplies directly to residents who are in need.
  • Providing support through visits, phone calls and FaceTime.
  • Giving advice for those struggling with issues in their home.
  • Sharing local resources for neighbors in need.

Are There Any Downsides To Using Nextdoor?

While Nextdoor shows you the good in people, like any other social network, it can also show you the worst. Unfortunately, many use the site as a platform for their complaints, problems, political beliefs and trolling. Here’s some of the bad stuff you can expect to see on the social media site.

Gossip, Drama And Ridiculous Complaints

While you can get useful information from Nextdoor, you may have to weed through a bunch of useless information that includes gossip, drama and futile complaints about things like people cooking meat with their windows open or a neighbor’s bees stealing honey from another neighbor’s flowers. Yes, those were real complaints.

Remember, Nextdoor is a social network that allows people to post whatever they wish. It gives a voice to all of your neighbors and puts it in one place. Imagine all of the neighborhood busybodies having one place to share the local gossip or eternally unhappy folks having a platform to air their grievances.

Scams

Because the social media platform is used by neighbors with verified addresses, users often let their guard down. However, Nextdoor has been used by many person-for-hire scammers who provide reasonably priced quotes, ask for payment upfront and never return for the job.  

Racial Profiling

“Suspicious sightings” have been a common feature of each neighborhood’s news feed, which has raised concern that Nextdoor may inadvertently enable racial profiling by neighborhood users.

Nextdoor, whose stated vision is to “cultivate a kinder world,” has been trying to combat racial profiling for years, updating its guidelines to prohibit racial profiling, introducing anti-racism education and discontinuing a feature that let users forward certain posts to police. The app also allows users to report messages and members and also block members, if necessary. While it may have helped, the problem remains for many neighborhood pages.

Politics And Misinformation

As you may see on other apps, politics and misinformation flood social media sites daily. This is true on Nextdoor as well and has become a bigger issue with the recent elections and COVID-19. To help combat this issue, Nextdoor is collaborating with nonpartisan organizations and government agencies to share accurate information. The site also allows users to report content that goes against its guidelines, makes false claims, displays false information or incites violence.

The Bottom Line: Get To Know Your Neighborhood

While it has its good and bad moments, Nextdoor is a resource that many homeowners have come to rely on for neighborhood information and local resources. If you’re already moved in, check it out and get to know your neighbors a little better. If you’re choosing your next neighborhood, follow your potential picks and see if you can narrow down your options based on what you see.

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    Lauren Nowacki

    Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.