they seem to appear as distant wifi routers but where i live the nearest neighbor is too far away for it to reach my home network.
They appear as clients on your network? Or appear as SSIDs visible to clients on your network?
Don't forget that many phones can act as wifi hotspots nowadays, so can appear on the fly. Here, we can occasionally see the APs on the local buses as they go by...
If its what I think it is and that the OP is using Windows 10 they will probably see that it has no IP and if so they can ignore it or just stop and disable the "Windows Connect Now - Config Registrar" Service, you should then stop seeing the unknown devices.
That service says the following:
WCNCSVC hosts the Windows Connect Now Configuration, which is Microsoft's Implementation of the Wireless Protected Setup (WPS) protocol. This is used to configure Wireless LAN settings for an Access Point (AP) or a Wireless Device. The service is started programmatically as needed.
We have all our Windows 10 devices here have that service disabled due to we don't need that service.
- Infinity 4 - 310Mbps (down), 31Mbps (up)