Love Thy Neighbour: How Good Neighbours Create Great Communities

Darren Waitson, CEO and Founder at Nirvana Maintenance looks at how good neighbours can create great communities.

How much do you really know about your neighbour? Do you know their names? Do you know their children's names? How long they've lived there? Numerous surveys about relationships with our neighbours stress how little we actually know them - the majority of us don't even know their names.

Research from 2000 homeowners polled shows that almost three quarters chatted to their neighbours at least once a week, with many doing so more frequently.

When residents rent or buy a new home, they aren't just moving into a property, they are moving into the neighbourhood. For us to build cohesive communities and neighbourhoods, must we include our neighbours? For many, a sense of community is nurtured and expressed in residential and business communities. So, just how important are neighbours in this equation?

Living Safely

Safety reigns supreme when it comes to property priorities. When families are moving, they want safe and friendly areas with low levels of crime. These factors are everyone's concerns and are a quick way to see just how safe a neighbourhood is.

Having reliable and trustworthy neighbours makes residents feel safer in their home. In fact, 72% of people are more than happy to go next door for help in any type of emergency.

With a stable and supportive community, comes encouragement for better safety and lower crime rates. Whilst the days of leaving your door open and welcoming strangers into your home may be long gone, especially in certain areas, one thing is for sure - that close-knit feeling which was prominent in the ’80s or ’90s is missing. Does this mean we now have to make more of a collaborative effort when it comes to safety? We have to be willing to welcome in trustworthy third parties with strong values to empower the neighbourhoods.

Do you live next to an elderly couple? Is there a teenage driver in the family? Are there small children in your block? Knowing certain aspects like these can help you to be aware of who are members of your community and to identify what is and isn't suspicious. Chances are, over time, you will know what is out of place in your neighbourhood. 8% of people think their neighbours are of the nosey variety, but 21% believe that their neighbours are very private.

Would you rather your neighbours be keeping an eye on the area, or keep themselves to themselves?

Community Feel

The old cliche of borrowing sugar from your neighbour may be dying out, with only one in 10 people (11%) willing to pop round when they run out, but we still want to make relationships within our communities.

When you are close with your neighbours you have the ability to empower and encourage. A neighbourhood which has nicely presented exteriors can help deter crime. Whether it be community gardening clubs or a weekly get-together for litter picking, projects like this can not only provide a great excuse to get together and be social, but it also can enhance community spirit and create a safe space.

We are social beings and want to feel connected to our surroundings. Even if we don't make friends per se, we still need that connection to people who are around us to be able to feel comfortable and safe.

Events as such can provide opportunities for participation, volunteering, encourage involvement for all ages, a social, cultural, economic and environmental development.

Wellbeing and Support

According to housing researchers, a sense of wellbeing and a thriving community is key to a happy neighbourhood.

A study led by the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management found that what really matters when it comes to wellbeing and mental health, was feeling secure and having a sense of control over their home.

Dr James Gregory from the Centre said: ‘We have consistently found that, no matter what the tenure or ownership status of a person’s home, one of the most significant features of a good home is a sense of security and confidence that you can ‘get away from it all’ at home. Good neighbours, good design and good management are all as important for wellbeing as a person’s tenure or tenancy.’

Whether young or old, mental health and loneliness are also becoming increasingly prominent issues. When you have a strong community spirit and strong relationships within your neighbourhood or housing block, residents feel a sense of support. The social fabric of a neighbourhood provides the opportunity for interaction and communication. When there is always someone to talk to, these issues can feel less of a burden.

The Logistics

Who would you ask if a parcel was due to be delivered and you weren't home? Neighbours.

Who would you ask if you needed someone to water your plants while you were on holiday? Neighbours.

Being close with your local community isn't just beneficial to your overall safety and wellbeing, it can also come in handy when it comes to everyday logistics.

While we all want to say that we strive to be friends with our neighbours, invite them over for dinner and so on, sometimes it's just nice to know that you are all in this together and if you look out for each other, you can make the space that much nicer.

44% of people think their neighbours are trustworthy, with around a third happily willing to give them a spare key to their home.

Overall, feelings towards neighbours seem extremely positive. Almost two-thirds of people would say their next door neighbours are friendly, and more than half think they are polite and approachable.

What Makes a Neighborhood Great?

A truly great neighbourhood is in sync with your lifestyle and priorities. We gravitate naturally towards what is important to us and with a similar demographic as ourselves. A suburban gated community may not be right for a young, single, professional just as a family with small children wouldn’t be suited to living in a block of flats in a city centre. No matter your age or lifestyle choices, there is no questioning that neighbours are a crucial contributor in making everyone's life a little better. From safety to wellbeing, when a community comes together, the impact can be much greater.

Safe, collaborative and thriving communities don't just happen by coincidence. They need investment. The importance of good neighbours is often underappreciated when it comes to the safety of properties and communities. By fostering healthy and respectful relationships, everybody stands to gain.

Values in The Community

Choosing to work with businesses that have their values rooted in your communities will only benefit areas in the long run. Nirvana is a family run business who are passionate about the role we play in communities. We understand that we are more than maintenance. We can be the eyes and ears on your site and your partner in neighbourhood safety. The critical services we provide help to keep leaseholders safe and improve their wellbeing.

Nirvana offers reactive and preventative maintenance services to property managers, including fire defence, electrical, mechanical and general maintenance. We want to provide property managers with just one supplier to entrust with their resident's safety.

Darren Waitson is CEO and Founder of Nirvana Maintenance. Nirvana was created to give property managers one supplier to entrust with their residents’ safety.

Reviewed: July 2019