Overview: Peace breaks out in the neighbourhood

The note that came through our door in London the other weekend was the perfect example of good neighbourliness. It gave notice of a party planned for a special occasion and asked for our understanding. Needless to say, even though most of the party took place in the garden, we were barely aware of it, so warm did we feel towards our considerate (and unknown) neighbours.

The note that came through our door in London the other weekend was the perfect example of good neighbourliness. It gave notice of a party planned for a special occasion and asked for our understanding. Needless to say, even though most of the party took place in the garden, we were barely aware of it, so warm did we feel towards our considerate (and unknown) neighbours.

A colleague, who lives in a rather smarter part of south London, received not just advance warning, delivered in person, of a 16th birthday party in her street, but a thank-you note as well. The music would go off at 12.30am sharp, she was told, and by 12.31, silence reigned.

Much more of this and the warring-neighbour scenario will begin to look a bit thin and reality-TV producers will have to find other victims upon which to base their programmes.

But what cannot be exaggerated is the importance of neighbours to our sense of well-being. It is a key factor in determining whether we will love or hate the place where we live - and that rather depends on whether we are more likely to be stopped for a chat or for our wallets.

According to a survey by the National Housing Federation, a friendly community in a quiet area with a low crime rate is regarded as the most important thing nationally, and, using this criterion, London comes out worst.

Its residents have more problems with noisy neighbours and vandalism than the other eight UK regions in the survey, and, along with the rest of the South-east, are the least likely to talk to their neighbours on a daily basis. Anyone who values keeping up with the local gossip should move to the North-east, apparently.

As the survey points out, it doesn't help that London and the South-east have the fewest people who intend to stay long-term. But then that probably includes those of us who are still saying that after 20 years - and who have had plenty of time to build up a sense of community even if it isn't of the church, pub, Women's Institute or school variety. And when the decision to move out of town is finally made, it is not the theatres, restaurants and shops that most people regret leaving, but the thought of swapping civilised neighbours for persons unknown.

Bradford & Bingley, the estate agents, also carried out some research recently which showed that 85 per cent of those asked were on good terms with their immediate neighbours and 77 per cent felt they had a friendly relationship with everyone in the street. Only 5 per cent claimed to be on bad terms.

Nick Freeth, an area director, believes that we underestimate the importance of neighbours when buying a property, or rather the danger of acquiring bad ones. "A bit of sleuthing doesn't do any harm at all. The person who quietly parks up at different times of the day, walks around and visits the local pub to get a feeling for who his new neighbours might be will be able to buy a property with complete confidence. The worst thing can be to ask the seller."

Vendors are obliged to disclose any history of disputes, as the law made clear in a much-publicised case last year, but if they have decided that quiet escape is the best policy, it is hard to spot a likely source of trouble. Freeth finds that glowing testimonials are far more usual, however. Some vendors take their neighbourliness to extraordinary lengths, virtually giving next door the power of veto.

And if the vendors are over 65, that should be good news. An astonishing 94 per cent in that age bracket told researchers they were friends with their immediate neighbours. So much for Victor Meldrew.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own