Summer 2022 saw the last ever episode of the very popular Australian soap opera Neighbours. Every loose end was tied up and the last episode featured almost every surviving neighbours star ever. Fans mourned the end of 37 years of Neighbours, declaring that life would never be the same without it.
Luckily for them, in September 2023, Neighbours was back again! Rescued by Amazon, a new series is now airing, with a few time and character changes to create some sense of continuity with the old one.
One element of continuity is the theme song. The song remains the same, albeit a different version by Chris Sebastian, the winner of ninth season of The Voice. But it still contains the well-known lyrics:
“Neighbours should be there for one another,
That’s when good neighbours become good friends”
But is that true for you? How do you get on with your neighbours? Are you there for one another, and have some of your neighbours also become good friends?
According to a recent survey by retirement home business McCarthy Stone 73% of respondents do regard their neighbours as friends, with 30% viewing them as their closest companions. In the UK, we chat to our neighbours on average ten times a week, often about the weather but also local news, family life, safety and security, and work.
And in the UK, 97% of us think we’re good neighbours. But what does this actually mean?
Let’s take a look.
We might think we are a good neighbour, but what are the kinds of things that really do make you a good neighbour? Here are five ways that we think you can be a good neighbour in 2024.
A smile and a friendly hello is not difficult. But it really can brighten someone’s day. And if you don’t do it, it can lead to misunderstandings very quickly. So always make an effort to acknowledge and smile at a neighbour no matter how much of a rush you are in.
This is particularly important for new neighbours. On the one hand you don’t want to overwhelm them and make them wary of leaving their home! But a greeting is always welcome. And if the new neighbour is right next door to you, you may also want to drop a welcome card through their door and perhaps some flowers or a bottle of wine.
A neighbourhood is a small community and it’s important to look out for each other. For example, if the weather is bad, it’s good to check on elderly neighbours to make sure they are ok and see if they need anything. And if neighbours are away, just keep an eye on things to ensure all is well.
If you hear of any security issues in your area such as a spate of car thefts or door-to-door con men, why not let your neighbours know too so that you can all be vigilant. And if anything doesn’t look or feel right, you can work together to decide what to do about it.
A slight caveat to the above is that you need to find the right balance of looking out for each other whilst not turning into the proverbial nosy neighbour! Whilst it’s good to be a little bit suspicious of an unexpected car or person at your neighbour’s house, there may be a perfectly rational explanation. So keep an eye on things but don’t pry or interfere unless there seems to be a problem. And don’t interrogate your neighbour about every detail of their lives.
A good way to find this balance is to try and socialise occasionally with your closest neighbours, so that you are aware of their circumstances and also to give them the opportunity to confide in you if anything is wrong. But as a general rule, if they don’t tell, don’t ask.
Many people are wary of offering help to a neighbour in case they get landed with extra commitments and responsibilities that they don’t want. But it’s best to take the initiative and be generous to others where possible.
Some practical help is quite effortless anyway, such as taking in parcels or post, or returning empty bins. But there may be other things you decide you want to help with either on a regular or occasional basis such as clearing snow, gardening, shopping, or DIY.
Some neighbours go as far as sharing Netflix passwords, or perhaps offering other technical support such as helping a neighbour set up a video call or new printer.
The choice is yours to do as much or little as you feel you want to, and hopefully the favour(s) will be returned in different ways.
A very important aspect of being a good neighbour is to be considerate towards others at all times. If you are going to have work done on your home or garden, are having a potentially noisy party, or need to park a skip or an extra car for a few days, just let them know in advance.
Tolerance is really important when living close to others, and there needs to be give and take on all sides. There will be times when other people will intrude on your peace or space, and the way you respond to this will help when it’s your turn to intrude on them.
All the above tips sound very positive and helpful. But unfortunately not all neighbours are quite as neighbourly. Let’s take a look at what kind of problems can arise with neighbours, and what do you do if things start to go wrong.
Some of the most common problems to do with neighbours revolve around car parking, dogs barking and general noise. Here are a few things you can do about each of these situations:
Most parking issues are caused simply by thoughtlessness. Sometimes people just don’t think before parking a car, and don’t realise they are blocking someone in or parking across a driveway. So the key thing is to be sensitive about where you park and expect others to do the same.
Legally, as long as a car is taxed and is not contravening any traffic laws, it is allowed to park anywhere on a public highway where it is legal to do so. So if a car repeatedly parks outside your home this is not illegal, though can become very annoying if you are not then able to park there yourself.
The best thing to do is to try to have a friendly word with your neighbour to explain why it’s inconveniencing you and see if you can work out between you another place for them to park. Chances are they didn’t realise it was an issue and will be happy to park elsewhere if there is another viable option.
But if you have a dropped kerb at the end of your driveway, you do have legal backing regarding people parking there. The Traffic Management Act of 2004 restricts parking in this area except for emergencies, works, rubbish collections or deliveries. So if you have an issue with someone parking across your driveway, and have tried the friendly chat option, try calling the police on 101 for help.
When you live surrounded by others, there needs to be a bit of give and take on all sides. Sometimes you will hear your neighbours, sometimes they will hear you. But if noise from one particular neighbour – such as loud TV or music, shouting, cars, or doors slamming – is becoming a major problem, there are five things you can try:
Another common cause of neighbour issues is pets. In particular:
We hope that this article has inspired you to be a better neighbour in 2024 and to feel more confident about dealing with any neighbour issues you may be facing.