Is community spirit a thing of the past? Research reveals three quarters of us wouldn’t call neighbours friends

Gone are the days of borrowing a cup of sugar

Community spirit looks to be on the wane in Britain with neighbourly friends seemingly a thing of the past.

Related: Always being disturbed by them next door? We reveal the UK's noisy neighbour hotspots!

Neighbours are supposed to be nearby friends you can turn to for a cup of sugar. However, a study of 2,000 adults found three quarters consider those living on the same street to be acquaintances at best. With one in 10 seeing their neighbours less than once a month.

While four in 10 say they’re ‘friendly’ with those living next door, they wouldn’t call them friends, with the average adult knowing the names of just five people in their street. One in 20 couldn't name a single person living in their road.

Is community spirit on the decline?

house with brick wall and wooden gate

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

56 per cent of those surveyed have absolutely no interest in getting to know their closest neighbours any better than they already do. It also emerged those living in the countryside are more likely to call their neighbours friends than city-dwellers – 18 per cent compared to 15 per cent.

The study was commissioned by Lottoland to raise awareness of the Spanish El Gordo lottery which sees groups of people club together to buy tickets. Through Lottoland, those in the UK are able to pool their money with friends and families to enter the annual draw.

'Neighbourly relations can be slightly different depending on whether you live in the country or the city,' says a spokesman for Lottoland. 'Wherever you live, having a close relationship with your neighbours can help you in lots of ways. It’s not just about borrowing a drill or a cup of sugar when you’re running low on baking supplies.

'Being on close terms with those who live nearby can make your home a safer place - it’s like having an extra pair of eyes watching the place when you can’t be there.'

room with yellow cupboard

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Merewether)

The study found that despite the general lack of kinship with the neighbours, one in six Brits are part of a local neighbourhood watch scheme. But inner-city residents (22 per cent) are more likely to join than those in the country (14 per cent).

Community spirit is not completely lost as one in five adults have called in to a neighbour’s house to feed a pet, and 39 per cent have brought someone else’s bins in.

white kitchen with yellow flower vase on countertop and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Merewether)

A tenth of respondents have done a food shop for those next door. 23 per cent have watered their plants during a holiday. Astonishingly, one in 10 say if they won the lottery, they would share it with those next door.

However, despite the charitable favours, Brits are only likely to actually consider two people on their street to be ‘good friends’. Just under one in four would consider knocking on a neighbour’s door as a way of beginning to get to know them better.

But 24 per cent would be worried about coming off ‘too keen’, and 22 per cent believe there’s not enough sense of community spirit in their neighbourhood. 44 per cent responded that they'd most likely knock on a neighbours door if they were locked out.

However, one in 10 have fallen out with a neighbour for blocking a driveway and the same amount have been wound up by too much noise coming from next door.

Related: Rightmove reveals the happiest place to live in the UK 2019

Are you friends with your neighbours?

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.