500 light years is relatively close, yet it is very far. There are likely many planets in our neighborhood which are habitable. However, finding stars with habitable planets in our neighborhood which support life at the same time as our planet is much less likely. There are likely many habitable planets which had life with some intelligence or will have have life at some later date. The number of planets with life at the same level of development or greater than Earth is likely to be very small. To find that, it is likely the search would take us very far from our neighborhood.
Consider that our home, Earth, is five billion years old. Primates have only been around for about 60 million years. Homo sapiens sapiens, the only species on Earth likely to be able to communicate beyond our planet, has been around for perhaps 200,000 years. The window of time for communications between planets is quite small. In the last fifty years or so, we have been trying to detect signals and send signals beyond Earth. How long will our species last? At the rate we are going, we may last only a few more generations. Unless we change how we manage our environment, we have less than a few hundred years window of communication, maybe much less. I suspect that if intelligent life has developed on other planets, it may have similar problems.
If we have living neighbors who can do what we do or better, they are likely far beyond any travel possibility. I'm still interested in finding out more about what there is in the cosmos. It is just that I have concluded that our odds of finding beings to communicate with are very low indeed.