Isolated Britain: Half of Brits do not know their neighbours' first name

14th October 2013

  • 70 per cent of people could not recall their neighbours' full names
  • 36 per cent have never seen their neighbour in person*

Research from Churchill Home Insurance1 highlights how we isolate ourselves from our closest neighbours, with 17 per cent of people admitting they have not spoken to any of their neighbours in over a month, rising to three in ten (29 per cent) of 18-34s.

Despite often living just a few meters away, over half (51 per cent) of those with neighbours admit they cannot recall their first names and 70 per cent are unaware of their full names.

The findings highlight a lack of familiarity for those living close to us, as 36 per cent say they would not even recognise their neighbours in person. Almost three quarters (70 per cent) did not know what their next door neighbours did for a living, 61 per cent were unable to recall how long their neighbours have been in residence and over half (53 per cent) had no knowledge of whether their neighbours rented or owned their homes. A further 44 per cent were unable to recall whether their neighbours have children and 47 per cent said the same about pets.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance, said: "Relationships with our neighbours have changed significantly over the years because the way we live, work and socialise has evolved. We move homes more frequently, spend a lot less time communicating face to face and are more cautious about who we welcome into our homes. As a result, we know very little about our neighbours, as we all get on with our own busy lives.

"The lack of trust and familiarity between neighbours does have implications. People may be less willing and less able to watch out for each other - realising there is a stranger on a neighbour's property is very difficult if we cannot recognise the person who lives there. Home insurance is vital should the worst happen, however, maintaining a good relationship with those we live closest to can make our communities a safer and more sociable place to live."

Highlighting a stark absence in neighbourhood friendships, Churchill's research reveals that less than a third (32 per cent) of us would call our neighbours friends, falling to 18 per cent for those aged 18-34. In fact, 13 per cent of people say they distrust, dislike or deliberately avoid their next door neighbours. For younger residents, this figure increases to 20 per cent.

Whilst the research indicates that younger people are significantly more isolated from those they share a street or building with, they are also more likely to have scoured social networking sites and search engines to find information about their neighbours. On average, eight per cent of all UK adults admit to having done this, compared to 15 per cent of those aged 18-34.

Things people do not know about their neighbours % of people who do not know this about one or all of their neighbours
UK Average 18 - 34s
First name 51% 68%
Full name 70% 82%
What they do for a living 70% 83%
What they look like 36% 52%
How long they have lived at the property 61% 78%
Whether they own or rent their home 53% 69%
Whether they have any children 44% 60%
Whether they have pets 47% 64%

Source: Churchill Home Insurance, 2013

Notes to editors:

  • *Base: All who know what some, but not all of their neighbours look like or don't know what any of their neighbours look like
  • 2 Opinium research interviewed a UK nationally representative sample of 2002 people, 6 - 8th August 2013

For further information:

Claire Foster
Churchill PR Manager
Tel: 020 8285 8682

Katie Pugh
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 282 2914


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK’s leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting