Comment: It’s no surprise that most Londoners are friends with their neighbours
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images
London is the second friendliest place to live in the UK according to a survey, despite its unwelcoming reputation.
So Londoners have a friendlier impression of their neighbours than anyone else in the country bar the Northern Irish?
In a survey by property website Tepilo, 83 per cent of Londoners said the street they lived in was friendly, compared to 76 per cent of homebuyers nationally.
This may surprise all those “I could never live in London, it’s so big and unfriendly,” types, but to anyone who’s actually lived here for any amount of time I imagine it will chime pretty closely with their own experience.
After all, while people may migrate to London for anonymity, nobody moves to a metropolis with a population of eight million and rising to avoid people altogether.
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And while London is undoubtedly less socially claustrophobic than many small towns, those dreams of freedom and anonymity will be shattered as soon as you experience the old adage of London being a series of villages – spend a year living somewhere like Highgate and then just try walking down the high street without bumping into at least one person you know.
In all my years of growing up and living in London I’ve never had anything but friendly neighbours. I grew up playing in the street with the kids from across the road because, unlike friends who had more rustic upbringings, we didn’t have the freedom to roam unsupervised in the woods so long as we were home in time for tea.
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The children bonded but so did the parents watching out for traffic and stranger danger (both of which country folk would have you believe don’t exist outside London).
Because we were in London, we weren’t just one homogeneous social group either. For me that’s the magic of big cities: they force a diverse population to co-exist more or less harmoniously.
If you really hated or feared people who weren’t just like you, you’d struggle to get through a day outside your house in Camden, for example, where 42 per cent of residents were born outside the UK, according to the most recent Census.
This is not to say that Londoners are innately better or more tolerant than everyone else, just that circumstance forces us to be friendly.
This enforced proximity to each other also means that Londoners know how sit in a postage stamp back garden within spitting distance of Mr and Mrs Next Door while maintaining the pretence that we can’t hear their most intimate conversations and bickering. We let them present themselves as they choose when we then openly acknowledge them on the front step.
Or at least that’s what I used to do when I lived next door to a couple who would cut into my Sunday lie-ins with their furious yells of “You’re vile!” “No, you’re vile!” back and forth – even if we did speculate wildly about them behind closed doors. I even managed to feign surprise when they announced they were divorcing about a year after moving in.
We also understand the value of calling ahead and would never show up on someone’s doorstep unannounced, something the ultra friendly Northern Irish struggle to get the hang of when they first move to the big smoke: “Sure, why don’t we just call in for a cuppa since we’re passing?”
All this boils down to Londoners’ respect for each other and each other’s private lives, wherein lies the key, I believe, to our ability to rub along together so happily as good neighbours and good friends.
Do you get on well with your neighbours? Let us know by tweeting @hamhighproperty