I always encourage my clients to meet the neighbors so that they can make sure it will be a good fit.
It's a great idea and it's cheap insurance ...
I've always made it a point to check out the neighbors and the neighborhood before I make an offer (or scratch it off the list) ....
There's still the Saturday morning "hearing" ritual I'll go through before signing anything (I've done it for 25 years) ... I'll go to the street around 8:30am and just listen for the next 30/45 minutes .. you'd be surprised on how many corner basketball, skateboards, 3 dogs barking, I'm running my 400hp lawn tractors come alive on a Saturday morning ....
Did the neighbors tell me a story..? ..heck no, they're used to it -- it's just like that first dent on your car, 10 days have gone by and now you're over it ... same with neighbors and noise.
That was probably the exception and not the norm. By all means, talk w/ neighbors and ask questions. It's a great idea.
It is not only a good idea to collect information about your future neighborhood, it's responsible. Caution is recommended for the door-to-door approach as well as an understanding that there are people,who by nature are NEGATIVE, and will relish opportunity of bashing anything.
Information should be collected, processed, and validated. Believe only what you can varify.....
The "Eckler Team"
Century 21 Almar & Associates
A young couple with a growing family was looking at homes for sale. Next door to one of the homes they saw, an old man was raking leaves. They stopped and asked him what the neighborhood was like. He asked them "what is it like where you live now?" The couple smiled and said "it's GREAT! the neighbors are wonderful, we all watch out for each other and socialize with many of the families. We love it." The old man told them "Well, this neighborhood is just that! You'll be happy here, too."
A few days later another couple came to see the house next door. They too saw the old man raking leaves and asked him what the neighborhood was like. He asked them "What is it like were you live now?" They answered "We hate it. We have a bunch of gossipy neighbors, they're all jealous and like to talk about people behind their backs. We can't wait to get out of there." The old man told them "well I think you'll find the same thing in this neighborhood.".
So in answer to your question, yes, I would definitely question the neighbors, but take much of what they say with a grain of salt.
Interviewing the neighbors may also return much more than you bargain for. Rent the video "MOVING" with Richard Pryor (relatively clean movie) for some examples of what could happen. A must see for potential home buyers.
Also, talk to a policeman, if you see one. And definitely, definitely talk to the letter carrier.
That, by far, is the best way to get to know a community.