New Research Reveals More Than Half of Britons Feel Closer to Their Neighbours Post-Lockdown

Previous research has shown a distinct lack of kinship between most Brits and their neighbours, but 2020 could be the year to turn it all around as 6 in 10 reveal the pandemic has brought them closer together.

Around 20% of Britons admit their neighbours were total strangers before lockdown, but with a large portion of the country housebound over the last few months, it seems most of us have spent time getting to know next-door a little better!

Passing the time with a friendly chit-chat, helping each other out and clapping for carers together every Thursday have likely all contributed, with more than half of Brits (56%) saying they’ve gotten to know their neighbours a lot better since lockdown, or are now better friends than ever.

A graphic showing that 56% of Brits feel closer to their neighbours since lockdown

This new connection to our neighbours also means we’re more likely to lend a helping hand. Almost 50% of people say they’d be happy to shop for a neighbour, walk their dog, mind their house or give them a lift, with a few even prepared to cook up a meal.

A graphic showing the types of different tasks Brits would do for their neighbours

Most are more than willing to be on friendly terms with neighbours, but in true British style, we still have a few reservations! As travel starts up again, our research reveals the majority wouldn’t necessarily trust their neighbour to check in on their home if they were away for a night. When it comes to feeding pets or hanging onto house keys, 50% of Brits say they definitely wouldn’t leave the task to a neighbour, compared to 30% who would. The remaining 20% would only ask their neighbour for help with a specific task, like watering the plants.

Renting vs Owning

It seems both homeowners and renters feel more positive about community post-lockdown.

  • Before lockdown, 15% of homeowners described their neighbours as strangers. Post lockdown, 65% have said they’ve gotten to know each other much better.
  • For those renting, 24% described next-door neighbours as strangers before lockdown, with 54% saying they’re much closer now.

Interestingly, research shows those who rent are twice as likely to avoid their neighbours as those who own their property. Living in the same location for an extended period, it seems homeowners are more likely to make an effort to get to know their neighbours better, with only 5% admitting to dodging the people next door, compared to 13% of renters.

A graphic showing how British people feel about bumping into their neighbours, split by renters and homeowners

“Over the past few months we’ve faced unprecedented challenges as a nation, and it’s encouraging to see how people rally together when it counts,” says Nick Lieb, Head of Operations at Share to Buy, the property portal that performed the research. “With the busy schedules and work practices that accompany modern life, it can often seem that we have lost our sense of community – but I think our latest research shows that no matter where you live, connections with those around you are still significant.”

“We’ve seen people across the country stuck at home for an extended period, so it was only a matter of time before neighbours started interacting a bit more than normal. While our research shows that most Brits still opt for a quick catch up, most have gotten to know their neighbours a lot better during lockdown. It definitely seems that many of us will no longer be strangers as we head into the final few months of 2020!”

When it comes to a fondness for neighbours in the UK, the results vary by county.

Quickest Chats

Across the UK, most people don’t mind bumping into their neighbours for a quick chat, but 62% of time-short Brits say it had better be quick!

Neighbours in Greater London and Kent are the most likely to want shorter catch-ups with their neighbours, with 65% of Londoners saying ‘I’m up for a chat but keep it quick!’, followed by 62% of people in Kent.

Avoid, Avoid, Avoid!  

When it comes to dodging local residents, those in Surrey are most likely to duck and dive to avoid chats with next-door. At 19%, those in the home county say they don’t enjoy bumping into their neighbours, followed by 14% of people in Hampshire and Greater London, who also sidestep neighbours where they can.

Compared to neighbour-dodging Surrey, those living in nearby county Berkshire are far more likely to stop for a chat, with 30% of people genuinely enjoying a catch-up with next door.

Friendliest Counties

Neighbours in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire were close even before lockdown began, with 23% saying they were on excellent terms with their neighbours and knew loads about them before the pandemic started.

However, those living in East Sussex have seen the most significant change since lockdown began, with 17% of people describing their neighbours as total strangers before the pandemic started, but 10% admitting that post-lockdown, they’ve become better friends than ever!

Stay Away from the Dog

People in Greater London, Surrey and Essex are least likely to ask a neighbour to check in on their pets or plants while away. If they had to choose, around 12% of people in Surrey would rather have a neighbour water their plants than feed their pets, with less than 1% of people willing to trust a neighbour with an animal family member. This trend is similar across every county, with more Brits happy to let their neighbours tend to a plant than care for a beloved pet.

Most Helpful Places

When it comes to helping out the people who live around us, those in Buckinghamshire and East Sussex are most willing to lend a hand.

At 68%, locals in Buckinghamshire said they’d be happy to shop for a neighbour, walk their dog or give them a lift, but would prefer to avoid cooking or minding their house. The same goes for East Sussex at 61%.

Those less willing to help a neighbour out are in Essex, Greater London and Surrey. At 21%, 19% and 17% respectively, those living in these counties say they wouldn’t be too keen to help a neighbour with their plants or their pets.

Most Brits Like Their Neighbours, After All

According to a study by the ONS, almost 56% of Brits say the pandemic gave them a sense of belonging in their local community, with two in three people saying that locals have been doing more to help those around them since the outbreak.

In addition, over half of all adults in the UK checked on their neighbours at least once when lockdown began, showing a sense of solidarity and kinship that UK neighbours aren’t traditionally known for.

Share to Buy surveyed over 1,150 people across the UK to find out how we feel about our neighbours since lockdown. Overall results have been presented, as well as split by homeowner, renter, and county.