'Important to your wellbeing': Here's the real value of being friends with your neighbours

You don't have to 'love thy neighbour', but being on friendly terms can be more helpful than you might realise.
You don't have to 'love thy neighbour', but being on friendly terms can be more helpful than you might realise. Photo: iStock

Good neighbours can be a blessing; bad ones an absolute curse. But while you don't exactly have to love thy neighbour, it helps to have friendly faces around and a helping hand to call on.

Janine Walker and her husband Patrick on Sydney's upper north shore know all about that. With twin sons Lachlan and Aiden aged two-and-a-half, life can sometimes become hectic but their neighbours help out with cups of tea, get-togethers and looking after her children at times.

"I'm very lucky to have great neighbours on either side of me, as well as in my street," says marketing manager Janine, 38. "This is a very friendly suburb and ... there's a real mix of young kids and older teenage kids and everyone looks out for each other and, as a result, it's a very close community." It is one of the things the family will miss of their home, which is now on the market.

Janine and Patrick Walker with their twin sons Aiden and Lachlan at their upper north shore home. Janine and Patrick Walker with their twin sons Aiden and Lachlan at their upper north shore home. Photo: James Alcock

Integrative psychologist Helen Gibbons says living in a friendly neighbourhood can boost your health hugely. "Having good neighbours is very important to your sense of wellbeing and health."

Relationships Australia suggests people should start by smiling, waving and saying hello when they bump into neighbours, take in their garbage bins or offer to mow lawns and pick up mail when they're away.

"Take the initiative and plan a neighbourly event – have a barbie, a dinner," a spokesperson says.

Other upper north shore areas such as Lindfield, Roseville and Killara are renowned for being neighbourly, believes local Richardson & Wrench agent Melanie Patterson. "I think its because a lot of people who grow up here and move away later come back with their own kids.

"They're helping recreate some of the friendliness of the past, and knowing your neighbours and saying hello to them, and being part of the community," she says.

Generic shot of neighbourly get together. Integrative psychologist Helen Gibbons advises people to take the initiative in forming friendships. Photo: iStock

Matt Carvalho, of Ray White Glebe, believes the inner west is more friendly than elsewhere because it has many newcomers – families and older empty-nest downsizers. "Being new to the community, they're a bit more open to getting to know their neighbours and to new friendships," he says. "And, with the parks and cafes, there's a lot of meeting places for people to come together."

He's currently selling a three-bedroom Victorian terrace in Forest Lodge which, says owner, education consultant Lisa Elias, 46, has some of the best neighbours in Sydney.

"The neighbours have all said how sad they are to see us go," she says.

Domain Neighbourhood Waverley_  St Marys Ave Photo: Steven Woodburn Waverley in Sydney. Mark Foy of Belle Property says the eastern suburbs have neighbourly pockets too. Photo: Steven Woodburn

That's not to say the eastern suburbs aren't neighbourly, argues Mark Foy, of Belle Property Surry Hills, which hosts an annual get-together for parents of kids at a local childcare centre to raise money.

"Areas like Surry Hills are rapidly gentrifying and people are coming over from Paddo and the inner west and always socialise with their neighbours, and even make friends of them," he says. "It's so family friendly here, everyone likes to get along."

Three homes to try


36 Saddington Street, Turramurra NSW. 36 Saddington Street, Turramurra NSW.

In a peaceful, kid-friendly cul-de-sac, this renovated single-level family home has open-plan living and a leafy backyard with an in-ground swimming pool.

The house has a gourmet kitchen with a river red gum island bench, top European appliances, Caesarstone benches and a walk-in pantry. On 940 square metres, it has a gas fireplace, ironbark floors, airconditioning and a lock-up garage.

"Everyone loves its location," says agent Melanie Patterson, of Richardson & Wrench Lindfield, who has set a $1.45 million guide for the May 4 auction.

Surry Hills

503/20 Pelican Street, Surry Hills NSW. 503/20 Pelican Street, Surry Hills NSW.

In the friendly building Monument in Surry Hills, this three-bedroom apartment is walking distance to Oxford Street eateries, Hyde Park and the CBD.

It has an open plan layout and is airy and bright with the northerly sun, and has floor-to-ceiling glass doors to maximise both light and views, as well as the balcony with 280-degree city outlooks. The complex has a pool, gym, gardens and lock-up storage.

Belle Property Surry Hills agent Mark Foy is selling the apartment at auction on May 11 with a price guide of $1.55 million.  

Summer Hill

10 Fleet Street, Summer Hill NSW. 10 Fleet Street, Summer Hill NSW.

Enter the inner west market with an unusual one-bedroom semi, with a flowing floorplan and a private alfresco terrace at the back. It also has the option to grow, with a ladder-access loft space.

The pretty house, with its large lounge and separate dining room on 95sqm, is close to the cafes and eateries, shops, services, bus and rail of the suburb's friendly village lifestyle.

It's being sold by Harris Tripp agent Sharon Skrabanich for $915,000.

This story was first published on Domain.