These days it is difficult to meet genuine nice people. Whether you live on a farm, a city or suburb, you most likely have neighbours and they can be a major factor in improving your quality of life. Neighbours can keep a watch on your house while you’re on vacation, lend you something, or in the best case scenarios, become a friend.

London especially is so terrible when it comes to meeting and knowing the neighbours. The fast paced life just makes it really challenging! Most of the time (in winter it’s worse) people come and go to work in total darkness (it becomes dark as soon as 3 or 4pm!) never grasping who really lives next door. You could be living next to a good old samaritan or a total psychopath but you just never know!? Nevertheless there are ways to find out!

Please see below some creative and flexible ways to transform a stranger into a neighbor:  

– Get a dog

Yep, it is true… as soon as you get a dog you step into a whole new community of proud dog owners in the neighbourhood. Forget about being anonymous and invisible. No dog owner in the entire area will ever ignore you from now on! You may plan to take your best friend to walk for roughly 15 minutes but you end up participating in this massive doggie conference where you come back knowing which dog misbehaved recently, fell ill, went on holidays, stole the owner’s dinner, got a nice b’day present, ruined the best rug or found a new girlfriend, etc. Yep, It is a dog’s world really!

–  Hold a street party

A dynamic way to get to know your neighbours is by organizing a street party. Check with the local authorities for permission to close off the street, making the celebration exclusive to folks in your street. Ask everyone to prepare a dish (so much better if it is a multicultural street), include workshops, interactive games or activities. If you are lucky enough to have an artist living near you then you may just have free entertainment thrown in as well.

Browse through the UK-based Street Party site to gain some inspiration to make your street party a successful annual event!

 –  Borrow stuff

If you suddenly need to borrow something, anything really just look next door. It can be practical and a lot easier to just  knock on your neighbour’s door for something that you might be lacking as an emergency (just make sure you don’t pester them too much though), rather than running out and spending money on an object you’ll use once. Discover the site Streetbank which is an online platform for neighbours to share, borrow or lend their special skills to one another. It is a way to display solidarity towards neighbour and be sociable.

–  Share books

Books are a great topic of conversation (constantly talking about the weather can be tiresome, believe me!) and can become a way to connect with those who live close by. Enthusiastic readers can even set up a book club where regular meetings take place, a neighbor selects a new book to read and discuss. If a book club seems like too much of a commitment, then perhaps your neighborhood could create its own DIY library made from recyclable materials and filled with free books that you all can share. The Little Free Library encourages literacy, sharing and is a creative little punch to insert some personality into your ‘hood.

–  Do voluntary work at the local community centre

Community centres are a great way to meet and greet, develop long term relationships and build constructive bonds with fellow residents in the area.

There you will find individuals committed to improving the status quo in the residential area, information regarding professional courses, voluntary schemes, relevant activities for all age groups and programmes available to the local people.

–   Food

The sharing of food is a meaningful way of bonding and really connect with neighbours. Take the initiative and invite some neighbours over to your place for a cup of coffee, food bites or even a full meal. After a while you could swap favorite recipes, teach each other how to cook different dishes and even create a culinary club.

– Safe watch

Neighbours together can make sure their homes and loved ones are safe. A group of concerned citizens constantly monitor the area, dedicate their spare time to keeping their eyes and ears open to the happenings of the neighborhood. If there is suspicious behavior, then these individuals can coordinate and report incidents to the local authorities. The Official Neighborhood Watch App can be a useful tool to report incidents as well as a resource for tips and materials to make your own neighborhood watch the most effective.

Have a go at these options and see the difference. I am sure the outcome will bring a new perspective of things in your local area and the way you regard your neighbours.