How often do you speak to your neighbours? Hardly ever? Less than that? You’re not alone. According to new research, the average British homeowner spends just an hour talking to neighbours each year. A new poll of more than 1,500 UK homeowners conducted by Portafina, has revealed just how little we communicate with our neighbours, and the reasons why.
Across the UK, fewer than a third (29%) believe they ‘live in a friendly neighbourhood and all talk’, and one in six (15%) feel that they have nothing in common with their neighbours. Only 23% class their neighbours as friends, and 10% have had cause to complain to those residing next door in the last year.
The top five reasons we don’t speak to our neighbours are:
- Not wanting to invade their privacy (22%)
- Liking our own privacy (20%)
- Concern that we would have nothing in common (15%)
- Being new to an area, and not having met neighbours yet (13%)
- Believing that our neighbour doesn’t like us (12%)
The study revealed that those aged under 34 were more than twice as likely to not speak to their neighbours at all compared with over 55s, and four times as likely to feel very uneasy about potential interaction with neighbours. If a neighbour is aged over 65, they are most likely to offer acknowledgement, be it a courteous ‘hello’ or a friendly nod every day (38%), and over half (57%) will keep an eye on the next-door property if the owners are on holiday.
Derek Peterson, 67, from Swindon said: “My wife and I have lived in the same detached suburban property for over 20 years. We’ve known a lot of our neighbours for many of these years, and we’ve become friends over time. It wasn’t a quick process, but we tried to always be cordial and helpful and they returned the favour. Having neighbours that will keep an eye on your home when you’re away, or drop by if you’re ill is lovely.”
Being new to an area, or living in a location where there is likely to be high owner turnover also played a part, with those living in a new build housing estate or town/centre yet to establish relationships with people living next door. Across the whole of the UK, the five locations with the friendliest neighbours (based on time spent chatting with next door on average per month) were:
- Norwich (50 minutes)
- Glasgow (43 minutes)
- Dublin (40 minutes)
- Nottingham (40 minutes)
- Newcastle (37 minutes)
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