Survival Tips for Neighbours from Hell

Decades ago, the local neighbourhood was the epicentre of one’s universe. It was a place where kids rode bikes, homemakers chatted over fences and lots of cups of tea were drunk.

Society today is so heavily focused on the individual’s needs and wants, good neighbours do seem hard to find.

What sort of neighbours do you have?

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#1 The Repressed Policeman/Woman –

These neighbours are apt to bang on your door late at night, telling you to turn the music down, especially when your teenagers throw a one-off party, in your usually quiet home. They like everyone to stick to the ‘rules’, at all times and will publicly shame you for any minor wrongdoing. Most neighbours give them a wide berth in the supermarket and walk on eggshells around them.

Survival Tip: Exercise caution.

#2 The Gardening Expert –

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Bordering on extinction, these types are often busybodies, who good-naturedly offer you gardening advice and give out various botanic “cuttings,” suggesting you plant them in particular spots of their choice, in your back garden. They are experts in extracting information about you, but can also be obsessive about how promptly you fix loose fence palings, cut back overhanging tree branches, or how many leaves blow over into their yard.

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Confront #2 types and they might become revengeful, landing you with a complaint letter from local council over perceived dog barking or pet birds squawking, because it has disturbed their daytime nap. They are notorious for mowing their lawns/operating whipper-snippers at annoying hours, mostly when others are sleeping, earning the ire of all other residents in the street.

Survival Tip: Take the good with the bad and compost the undesired plant cuttings.

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#3 The Sports Fan –

This ultra friendly, highly socialized, neighbour invites everyone known to man over to his/her place, generally on football nights, and often parties hard until 4am, at least four nights a week. Woo hoo! Not! Their house guests can easily be tracked by the ‘Hansel and Gretel’ detritus trail of empty beer bottles and fast food containers they leave in their wake.

Survival Tip: Earplugs – buy a decent set. You will need them.

#4 The Forgetful Neighbour –

These folks ‘borrow your garden/electric/tools’ and forget to ever return them. They mean well. This type is bound to cross swords with neighbour #1.

Survival Tip: Lock your shed and throw away the key.

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#5 The Loner –

Often perceived as ‘weird,’ this neighbour never acknowledges or socializes with others in the street. Easily identified by the house with windows and doors shut tight, even on sweltering days, this occupant is largely unknown. This neighbour arouses lots of suspicion from neighbour #2 .

Survival tip: Show some compassion. The Loner might think you are pretty weird too.

If you have a neighbour who is a closed book, respect their privacy, but look for ways to improve communication with them. It might be a small gift left at their doorstep, or as simple as a card, in their letterbox saying hello and wishing them a lovely day.

Kindness costs nothing.


#6 The Neighbour Everyone Wants –

This particular neighbour appears to be extremely rare in modern society, but I ask the question:

Are they hard to find or do we need to be open-minded and communicate better?

Survival Tip: Change your attitude towards #1 – #5.

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Although the previous examples are almost completely tongue -in -cheek and bear no resemblance to any person, living or dead, they do illustrate how blanket judgements and misconceptions can hinder open discourse and foster prejudice, or even hatred. If open communication is lacking or non-existent, divisive opinions will continue to spread.

Ron Mueck
Ron Mueck

In a neighbourhood, we have a challenge, even an obligation that comes with living there. To get along with those from all walks of life, for the ultimate benefit of the entire community. Shall we see it as an opportunity or a pain in the backside?

Queenslander home



Racism is taught in our society, it is not automatic.

It is learned behavior toward persons with dissimilar physical characteristics.

~ Alex Haley

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/alex_haley

In the wake of the Christchurch tragedy, keeping an open mind will foster better communication with our neighbour, no matter who or where they come from. We don’t necessarily have to agree or like their cultures, habits, food, or ways, we only need to understand and know them and acceptance will follow.

Our neighbours are a precious resource in maintaining community and increasing our integrated sense of belonging, and that is our best weapon against terrorist acts and radical thoughts.

If we fail as a neighbourhood group to understand them, we also fail to create any sense of “community,” for ourselves.

Something sobering to Ponder About

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34 thoughts on “Survival Tips for Neighbours from Hell

  1. Great post, Amanda. I’ve been lucky for the most part. In my last apartment, not so much. There were lots of young people going to college and they had later hours to shower and be up. One living downstairs had Aspergers, slamming doors and speaking loudly enough to hear his conversations upstairs. But they were all good people so I never complained. The neighborhood I’m in now is full of all kinds of people trying desperately to make ends meet. On either side and one across the street and friendly on occasion and quiet. There are some who make it a point to not interact with anyone. If they want to be left alone, you have to respect that. Lots of weird neighbors but none that seem dangerous. I like to know my neighbors but am always respectful of boundaries and careful not to gossip. We need all these people and help where we can. I once had a neighbor whose teenage children drove down our private/shared road so fast and stirred up so much dust but I said nothing. The kids grew up and the dust cleared. I don’t think I’ve ever had a neighbor from hell. I guess I’ve been lucky. Many here are very introverted or already have their tribe but I know if I don’t get outside right away to take my garbage bin back, the neighbor that borrows space sometimes, brings it back or takes it out for me. I do the same for the fellow on the other side who works late in the night. It’s a simple thing but if a neighbor needs an herb for something they are cooking, they know they are free to help themselves. We need to odd ones too. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone. I think I mentioned in another comment on another post that if we didn’t have all those people from different countries, we wouldn’t have Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, or any of those wonderful flavorful foods we are so fond of. I don’t want to change them and I don’t want them to try and make me be like them. I just want to enjoy the diversity. Hope you are having a wonderfilled weekend. M

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone.” Special words to remember, Marlene. Look for the good in people; that is a lesson that you understood early on, for sure? How lovely that there is the unspoken respect and consideration of your neighbours for bringing in your bins or sharing your herbs around. We used to do that for a neighbour that usually kept to herself. A few simple gestures were so appreciated by her, that she became a good friend. Being considerate of others in a neighbourhood facilitates community and this will give back many intangible benefits. Unfortunately the souls who are too caught up their own world, or shy away from fear or prejudice, will never notice that and not know that they have missed out on something special. These words of yours sum up my message: “I don’t want to change them and I don’t want them to try and make me be like them. I just want to enjoy the diversity.” The diversity and all the interesting and positive things that can bring.

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  2. What an interesting study of neigbors! The only communication people have these days is wave at each other or just smile to acknowledge that we live near by. Introverts like me have some inhibitions in initiating a conversation and life passes by! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Introverts like us, Balroop often have to make an effort to initiate conversation. But a smile is a great place to start. I am also an introvert but I have practised lots and it can make a difference. Conversations do not have to be long, and remembering or referencing back to small facts that people mention from a previous conversation is very much appreciated. Don’t let life ( and friendships), pass you by!

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    1. Thank you, Lesley and I hope at least one of the three neighbours I described was #6? They are caricatures of a combination of folks I knew, not one person living or dead. They are however common characteristics linking those who seem to colour community life. I am intrigued as to which ones they are now. Can you tell me?

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  3. The obsession with privacy and individualism isn’t conducive to good neighbourly relations. And then we have those fences, either the paling or more likely the impenetrable colour-bond fence. Our homes are often seen as investments and something to be maintained and kept shiny.
    It is pretty rare to have a lively community where people care and look after each other in Australia. We haven’t found it except at earlier times when we lived in an inner city suburb where houses were clustered together and families were young and the kids played on the streets. They had billy carts and made cubby houses. There were no remote operated garages and no iPhone distractions.

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    1. Billy carts and cubby houses are fond memories of my own childhood growing up in Australia. That darn colour bond fence is like a prison fence, designed to prevent any communication, air or visual activity, and they call it a “good neighbour: fence. It is horrid! Nothing good neighbourly about it at all. I am sorry to hear that you haven’t found another community to match the inner city suburb. But even that has disappeared now. The inner city is not so friendly anymore, as a general rule. Still I have found plenty of folks to chat too, in this area, but not yet at the stage of developing a friendship. Even the act of tuning up one’s car on the footpath was a good excuse for a neighbourhood get together. Xmas time is one of the few times my community comes out from their homes, off their phones and chats to one another in anything other than a 1 on 1 situation. It is fantastic. We need more of it.

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    1. You are probably totally different to those, Leya. It was all just a bit of fun. I do understand everyone is a person unto themselves and doesn’t fit into a list! Do you have neighbours that are an asset to you?

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  4. We have had two couples as friends now for 36 years now, they started out as neighbours. Since then we’ve lived next door to a cat owner that didn’t believe in sterilisation, nor letting her cats inside, and couldn’t bear to part with resulting kittens. Have you ever heard cats when they’re announcing they’re willing to mate. We’ve lived next to one of Perth’s top underworld bikie gang members, he was actually a good neighbour to have. We felt very safe, and he mainly kept his business affairs seperate from his family life. That was a very good neighbourhood by the way, so we weren’t expecting that.we lived there for 13 years – all good. We moved into a block of ten over 55s units and three of those neighbours insisted on being the police of the complex. We only stayed 11 months – that was the worst of all our neighbours. We’re now in a private house without any strata fees or restrictions, but with an over 50 age limited. We have the best neighbours anyone could possibly have, and two of the couples here I’m sure will be amongst our closest friends for the rest of our lives.

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    1. Hi Chris, I can relate to getting away from strata fees. I think we dodged a bullet when we terminated the contract for the townhouse we were going to buy. It would have been exactly like that, I think.
      It is clear from your account of your neighbours that one can never generalize about areas, or people. Everyone is a person in themselves and you can’t have expectations about how a particular person might behave. Interesting that living next to the underworld figure made you very safe and that the safest sounding option of apartments were filled with #1 neighbours! It is also lovely to read that you have wonderful neighbours. They can make life so much more fulfilling, as can wonderful friends. No wonder you are dug in, at your present location. I think I will have to adjust my list adding # 7 The Cat Lover !

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      1. Your neighbours definitely make or break your neighbourhood. Dogs that bark all day while the owners are at work, or kids that have a basketball hoop and bounce their ball from sunup to sundown can all make life hell. No neighbourhood comes with a written guarantee, it’s all, ‘like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get’.

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      2. Indeed! I have a friend who moved to a very low socio-economic areas, where police were often called to DV incidents, however she has been there over 10 years and tells me that in that community, she has found the nicest people, friends who have become very dear to her. No doubt there are some neighbourhoods where it can be nigh impossible to see any positives, but for the most part, ‘Community’ – is not dependent on colour, religion, wealth, age or any single factor.

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  5. My parents and I were rather fortunate to move into a neighborhood in suburban Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. in 1972. I live here now with my mother who’s 86. We are the original inhabitants of this house, which is rare here. The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is rapidly expanding in population, as it has been for about 50 years. Our particular area has remained peaceful and quiet – another rarity for a city of roughly 150,000. We haven’t had much trouble from neighbors over the years. There have been exceptions, but it’s been good for the most part.

    There’s a TV show here in the U.S. called “Fear Thy Neighbor”, which details actual situations where people finds themselves in various kinds of disputes with fellow residents. Often the results are deadly, or at least near-fatal. It’s often the smallest issues that metamorphose into serious problems. It’s not so much the particular dispute, but the individuals involved and their inability – or unwillingness – to compromise or put matters to rest. It’s an intriguing series – and frightening, too, because I know more than a few people who have had vicious disputes with neighbors. Law enforcement often gets involved and tries to settle people down. But they also often can’t do anything official, such as an arrest, until “something happens”. Sadly, that “something” is often deadly.

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    1. I cannot believe TV is making shows about people’s inability to get along with others. But I realize that controversy rates well in the TV world. Some of the premises for these shows are awful, but we can learn what NOT to do in our dealings with neighbours. I can well understand that folks get carried away and with the availability of guns, no doubt it could be deadly. Do TV producers rev up the folks who appear? If so, do they take responsibility for what they have done to whip up animosity? What happens after the cameras leave? I don’t imagine they sit down to a nice cuppa with a mediator and hash things out.

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  6. Ohh, I used to have such problems with my neighbour. She called police on me so many times. The walls between us were so thin that I never knew if I had someone in my house or she switched on the light in her apartment. I was also young and wild and had people over a lot. Not a nice neighbour, neither I nor she. Once she cut my internet connection cable because she said she saw “those useless wires that were leading nowhere” and cut them. When I settled down and had my ex move in and he started to take care of the garden and talk to her, she mellowed. Now there is a single woman tenant living in my ex house. I hope they are happy together. 😀

    And now? Now there is nobody on either side except in the summer months and weekends. 😀 Imagine the luxury! Yes, I’m the loner type who prefers not to talk to anybody. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never picked you for a loner, Manja but no wonder you like your current place. I am aghast that the neighbour cut your internet. I would be ropeable at the lack of communication and respect. It is good to know you both have mellowed. Would you say it was better communication that changed her attitude?

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    1. The various village activities would be a great way to mix with the locals, when they are in town. Is it too quiet when everyone is out of town? Some of the tourist towns seem almost surreal without people.

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  7. I had to chuckle at this. 😉
    When I moved to my current apartment, I was sort of warned for the downstairs neighbour by the housing cooperation. Turns out that this man has severe psychiatric issues, which made him an unpleasant, unreasonable neighbour. I’m a very quiet resident, but apparently, me wakling up the stairs to my house or me going to the bathroom at night already drove him up the wall. Mind you, these are old houses from the early 1920s so there will be creaks and cracks. He had very compulsive behaviour. He also yelled at me and called me nasty names, which prompted me to call the police. I felt very unsafe with that guy living there. Not because I worried he would attack me physically, but the constant threat of ‘what is he going to twist and turn now?’ I was so relieved when he announced he was moving. My current downstairs neighbour is just a normal guy living about his live. So much better!
    I’ve also had next door neighbours playing loud music all night long. Now I was the one going bananas, because when you get basically one hour of sleep and you have to go to work heavily sleep deprived…that’s no joke. I mean, if you have the radio on and your favourite song comes up, it’s not such a bad thing to turn it up for a song or two. But not constant, not all night long. Yikes!

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    1. San, you have been through some experiences with neighbours already, haven’t you? Unfortunately, it is a little too common, but great that the troublemakers have moved on and left you in peace. I totally agree about music all night long: that is not fun and not cool. I stayed in one of those houses when I was in the Netherlands and the stairwells are definitely not soundproof. I now live on a busier road than I have for 30 years, and whilst I am getting used to the traffic noises, the early morning trucks always disturb me. Did you find after a while you were able to block out the sounds of footsteps on the wooden stairs in your place?

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      1. Sure have! Of course the man doesn’t acknowledge that he is a psychiatric patient, but what can you do, right?
        I don’t really get used to people walking on the stairs. Usually when it’s accompanied by talking…I can even hear it when he opens (or slamshuts) his door. But if this is the worst if an otherwise fine neighbour, I can deal 😉
        I tend to get used to traffic noises easier. Although, at one point, I lived in a small place that was under the route of an airport landing strip. First time planes came over, I was wide awake, haha! Later on, I would fantasise about the amazing destinations the planes flew in from and that helped 🙂

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      2. Not acknowledging one has psychotic tendencies, is a symptom of psychosis!! But stairwell footsteps and talking is probably preferable to aeroplanes landing overhead. I had that in a flat once, and the jumbos made everything rattle and shake when it passed over.

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  8. What a funny and serious post at the same time, Amanda. Enjoyed reading it and I completely agree with what you have to say. Being respectful of others, even though we might not share the same values or lifestyle.
    Your description of #1 reminds me of this one time in Finland, where my friend’s neighbors dropped a hand-written warning in her letterbox (introverted Finns!) about her loud music and that they’d call the police next time. We had to be careful there as most people absolutely (especially in non-student housing blocks) respected those laws. For me it was a bit extreme. Here in Poland, it’s definitely more relaxed. There are laws against making noise and disturbing neighbors at night, but I have never heard of police being called. In Nepal, it was completely chaotic, as in nobody cared about loud noise and there were no laws against that. So for me in Poland there’s a good balance between having rules but not being too uptight about it. Two incidents here in the last few years was when once a neighbor knocked our door and asked very politely to turn down our music as his baby kept waking up from sleep. No problem there and we of course obliged. The second time was when a neighbor knocked our door and gave us some kind of spray(I don’t know the English word) to use between the corners of our doors to prevent its creaking noise. He was very polite about it too.. we used his product and gave it back to him. We hadn’t even realized that the noise could be heard outside our flat:/ Socializing would be easier in warmer climates where people live in houses with yards, compared to apartments which is more common here. It’s normal here to chit-chat when you run into each other and be respectful but it doesn’t really go beyond.

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    1. You make a great point about socializing and forming community being easier in warmer countries. I can see that I overlooked that aspect. More people are out every day and so there are more interactions with others at many many places. If it is too hot, there are still plenty of people about walking along the sand, or swimming in the surf at the beach. There are still people out playing sport ( in the hot sun – although not me! LOL), and in the colder countries, they might be inclined to stay indoors out of the cold or snow. Not much chance of speaking to others and showing compassion then. And apartments are not so conducive to a feeling of community, as streets filled with children playing might be.
      I love that your Polish neighbours are so kind and polite. How sweet that he offered you the WD40 spray for the door squeak. That is respect! And you reciprocated. Now when you see him in the stairwell you can have a conversation about the squeak or many other things. By having compassion, you have added a piece to your community! Lovely comment, Pooja. Interesting too to hear about Nepal although I am not so surprised that there are no noise laws. But are people more respectful of others and avoid making loud noises, in Nepal, anyway?

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      1. You are right, Amanda 🙂 We have moved to a new flat now, but we chit-chat with our neighbors when we run into them at the elevator etc. But this time there’s a whole FB group with our community so I think it’ll be easier to form bonds as there are constant updates there 😀 Not too long ago was a post from a man inviting people over for board games 🙂 We’re thinking of joining when we have time.
        I wish people had more common sense in Nepal to avoid making noises at such hours.. Just to give you some examples which have been disturbing my family for years: a church nearby does its prayers and singing on loud microphones every Saturday, this goes on for hours. A house behind mine which is a home for orphan kids start their singing and harmonium from 4 in the morning until midnight! Then there are the occasional, communal Hindu ceremonies that run for days, which involve a lot of singing and music through the microphones. And they sometimes go on for whole night! Although it’s such a nuisance, nobody really dares to speak up because nobody wants unwanted enmity in the neighborhood, especially in a country where you have to rely on community and society rather than laws and police.. it’s ridiculous but its is how it is. Constant noise is one thing that I don’t miss about Nepal here hehe. I’ve now realized how precious silence and quiet is, without the honking of vehicles, without the sound of prayers and just all sorts of things.

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