It’s perfectly normal to live vastly different lives on vastly different schedules to the people on the other side of your wall. Now summer’s well and truly here, our windows stay flung open all day and we can enjoy being in our gardens long into the night. Our personal spaces, comings and goings overlap more with our neighbours’ than the rest of the year. Just as you might be more aware of your neighbours this season, remember your neighbours might be noticing more of you too.
The truth is: good neighbourly etiquette isn’t so black and white
Precisely what music volume in the back garden is acceptable? At what hour should you usher BBQ guests indoors? When is it a good time to rev up the hedgetrimmer? In the UK, the noise curfew is technically 11pm to 7am. In theory, anything outside those hours – from 7.01am to 10.59pm – is legally acceptable to make as much noise as you like. But that’s not much comfort if you’re a shiftworker getting in at 5am, only to be woken by a lawnmower a few hours later. Or if your children go to bed at 8pm, just as next door’s garden party gets a bit rowdy. Legally acceptable and socially acceptable can be two quite different things when it comes to good neighbour relationships.
When we all live in such close proximity, considering how our summer plans might affect our neighbours is common sense.
Most neighbours aren’t trying to be annoying
Of course, you hear horror stories of full-on neighbours feuds. More often than not, late-night or early-morning disruption is, at worst, thoughtless. You can’t know just how far your portable music player carries. Equally, next door with the hedge trimmer has no idea just how desperately you needed a lie-in this morning.
No one likes an anonymous complaint shoved under the door
If you have a problem with a neighbour, better to nip things in the bud face to face if possible. Rather than grin and bear the nuisance or write an angry note, pop round and talk to them about the problem. Planning a BBQ or garden party next weekend? Give your neighbours a head’s up that there might be a little more noise than normal coming from your house. Let them know what time you expect it to wrap up by, and ask if they have a time you should be considerate of. Set a precedence with this kind of open communication with your neighbours, and hopefully you’ll get the same in return.
Like with most things, communicating with the people around us about each other’s needs can not only solve but prevent neighbourly conflict in the first place.
To paraphrase a wise Australian soap opera: with a little understanding, good neighbours can become good friends.