The beginning of Neighbors On Purpose in our new home began before we signed the lease in December of 2008: we interviewed (visited) the tenant next door!
She was happy to welcome us into her home, and into the small building as neighbors. She eagerly told us about the landlord, the building, what she likes about living there and why, and so forth. She relayed who had been in our apartment before us (which explained why she was so happy to welcome us!).
We told her some of the things that we appreciated about the place as our potential new home, why we were moving, and what we missed in this place when we compared it to our ideal... Then she showed us how we DID have a garden, we DID have neighbors who all knew and celebrated one another (she just likes to keep to herself more than that group, "but you'll just Love them!"). We were ecstatic. Almost all of our desires were confirmed! Well, except the "jacuzzi on a balcony just outside our bedroom" one, which was a bit outrageous anyway (some neighbors got a jacuzzi a few months later).
We found our ideal home, and (for me) realizing that it was already perfect was very important BEFORE signing the lease. We met our new neighbors on purpose!