While I was in London, I got a phone call from my mum telling me that our neighbours house had burned down. She said everything happened so quickly there was nothing they could do to help. Panicking, I asked her whose house had burned down and immediately began my process of elimination with the only neighbours I knew. The name my mother gave was so foreign to me. I had never interacted with them. I couldn't point them out in a line up. I couldn't even tell you what colour their house was. I genuinely knew nothing about these people. And that's what made me feel bad. Yes it was terrible that they had just lost their home and all of their belongings, but when I had no idea who they were, that made me realise how important it is to know my neighbours. If your house were on fire, wouldn't you want your neighbours to stop what they're doing and help you? I was reminded of how helpful my neighbours were after Hurricane Matthew. Natural disasters aside, there are many benefits to to getting to know your neighbours.
1. You get access to information and resources.
Your neighbours can sometimes be the best people to go to when you need something. I'm not talking about the stereotypical cup of sugar. Maybe you need a contractor and your neighbour is a contractor. Looking for restaurant recommendations? Your neighbour may know the best spots. Neighbours hold a wealth of knowledge on where to go and supplies. From extension cords to feminine care items.
2. Your neighbourhood becomes safer.
Neighbours look out for neighbours. If your neighbour has a phone contact for you, they can call you if they see someone suspicious hanging around your house. Many people rely on their neighbours to “keep an eye out” when they’re travelling or at work for any suspicious people or activity on their street. You don’t need be technologically savvy to do this; all it takes is a simple hello once in a while to foster a small connection, which can form a later sense of being part of a bigger “family.” And in case of emergency, it is much easier to go to someone you know rather than a complete stranger. And if you really trust your neighbour, you can leave a spare key with them in case you ever lose yours.
3. You receive support and help.
While I was living in Miami, I hit a fence. My neighbour noticed my bumper hanging one day and fixed it for me. When I came outside and saw it was fixed, he told me he had fixed it. He was close to my aunt whom I was staying with so by extension, he took care of me as well. I was even able to ask him son to wash my car for me for only $5,
And if that’s not enough reason to meet your neighbours, consider this: When I was in high school, my Spanish teacher met a guy on an online dating site and called him up one day. While on the phone, a plane flew over and they were surprised that they both heard it so vividly. When they stepped outside, they learned that they lived on the same street for years and never knew each other existed. They even had the same last name (no relation). They’re now married. So it just goes to show, you never know where your next “hello” will take you.