Nightmare neighbours: this is how we feel about them next door

Do you get along with your neighbours or wish they'd just move out? You're not the only one...

Row of Victorian terraces
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you have the next door neighbour from hell? Do you even know their name? Or are you the best of friends, always dropping by each other's front doors for a natter?

With four out of five people thinking neighbourly relations are getting weaker*, it looks like community ties might be in trouble.

Neighbours can be a helping hand in times of trouble (like if your house gets burgled) or a nuisance that, at the very extreme, might have you calling the police on them

The study by Legal & General surveyed 1,013 Brits aged between 18 and 75 to learn about their relationships to the people next door – and depending on your experiences, the results might surprise you.

One in two renters and one in three homeowners said they'd rather have no neighbours than keep the ones they have, and one in three people said they'd complained to their neighbour in person in the past – most commonly about loud music.

It's not surprising, then, that 78 per cent believe their generation had a poorer neighbourly relationship than the previous generation. That's thanks, in part, to older generations having lived in their homes for longer.

Two in five of us rarely or never say hello to our next door neighbour, and even fewer stop to chat with them. In fact, Millennials are four times more likely than Baby Boomers to avoid them altogether.

The research also reveals that one in three people have complained in person to a neighbour, and a smaller number (eight per cent) have even called the police.

The most common complaints are loud music and blocking access to someone's home – see the infographic for more reasons, below.

(Image credit: Legal & General)

Still, while more people view their neighbour as a stranger rather than a friend, there's good news.

Most of us are happy with how close we feel to our neighbours, and 40 per cent trust their neighbour enough to give them a spare key to their home.

Good deeds still abound, too: more than 80 per cent of people would accept a neighbour's delivery, share items like milk and eggs, put their neighbour's bin out and water their plants.

And 66 per cent would look after a neighbour's pet, which isn't surprising – we'd jump at the chance to walk a cute dog for a week.

Maybe this research has got you thinking about your own relationship with your neighbour? Could you be friendlier, or are they so nightmarish that it's time you (or they) bit the bullet and just moved out? 

*according to research by Legal & General (opens in new tab)

Ellen Finch
Deputy editor

Joining as features editor in 2017, Ellen now looks after the day-to-day running of Real Homes magazine as deputy editor. She also commissions and writes many of the real case studies you'll see on the site, and loves speaking to people about their homes and get the details on the hacks they've tried and loved. She's currently gearing up to buy a home of her own in 2023 – hopefully with a garden to plant veg and wildflowers – and has a special interest in sustainable living, clever book storage, and cats.