We may have good neighbours, but they don’t become good friends

18 March 2017

With it being 32 years today since Neighbours was first aired on Australian TV, Bank of Scotland’s How Scotland Lives research looked at how sociable Scots are with those living nearest in the neighbourhood. It found we don’t quite live up to the lovable likes of Harold Bishop as almost half (46%) don’t spend time with any neighbours at all, while just over a quarter (29%) only socialise with one or two.

Scots aged 25-34 are the least sociable neighbours as over half (55%) do not spend any time with anyone living in the vicinity, but the older generations (45-54 year olds 53%), 35-44 year olds 52%) are just as withdrawn.

It’s little surprise that where you live impacts on how much, or little, we engage with our neighbours. City dwellers in Glasgow (61%), Dundee (51%) and the Lothians (50%) top the regions for Scots not socialising with anyone in their immediate neighbourhood. Living in a city, you’re more likely to have a group of friends built up and may simply not want any more. 

Of the Scots who socialise with only one or two neighbours (29%), this trait is seen most in the 18-24 year olds and 55s and over (both 32%), with Mid Scotland (39%) and Aberdeen (34%) topping the regions.

Only 14% of Scots socialise with between three to five neighbours, and when it comes to socialising with ten or more people in the neighbourhood, this figure plummets to a mere 3%. In this category, it’s those aged 55 and over (5%), and people living in Fife (7%) who are the most sociable.

They may take a parcel delivery for you but don’t expect to be invited in for a chat

Almost a third (31%) of Scots would take in a parcel for their neighbour, but that, it seems, is the extent of their encounters, particularly for men (39%) and the 25-34 age group (42%). Those in Dundee rank highest (41%) for limiting their interaction with neighbours to the occasional handing over of a parcel delivery, with the North East close behind (40%).

Over a quarter (28%) would turn to their neighbour for help in an emergency, however this is seen more from the elderly as two fifths (41%) of these are aged 65 and over. It’s little surprise that for the regions, the Highlands and Islands come out top (33%) as those living in remoter parts of the country rely more on neighbours for help as family or friends are often not close by.

Helen Daniels may have been the original Neighbour who always offered a shoulder to cry on for both friends and family, but only a fifth of Scots are willing to discuss their personal life with their neighbour. Of these, almost a third (29%) are aged 18-24, closely followed by the 35-44 age group (27%). More people in South Scotland have a good enough relationship with their neighbour to feel comfortable speaking about their personal life than any other region (23%), followed by Glasgow (22%) and the Highlands and Islands (21%).

Rachel Bright, Head of Customer and Change at Bank of Scotland said, “While the majority of Scots don’t spend time socialising with neighbours, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the modern day Mrs Mangel - many of us juggle commuting, work life and family life, which leaves little time for ourselves let alone socialising.

“City living is also very different to rural life; in rural areas a supportive network of neighbours is part of country living as your nearest neighbour may not necessarily be ‘nextdoor’. However, those living in cities can easily build up a circle of friends which means there is less need - or possibly desire - to make friends with those living nearby.”