How to deal with nosey neighbours

Tilly’s neighbour has been spending time at her house, and it’s driving Tilly crazy.

How to deal with nosey neighbours

Tilly’s neighbour has been spending more and more time at her house, and it’s driving Tilly crazy. Jo Lamble shares some advice on getting her neighbour to ease off. 

Q. Tilly
My next-door neighbour has taken to popping in every day for a chat and a cup of tea. I like my own company and keep myself busy around the house and in my garden, but as soon as I start something, she’s on my doorstep and won’t go until I answer the door. She’s even taken to ringing my phone if I don’t answer. I wouldn’t mind if it was now and again, or she didn’t stay so long, but she can be in my house for two hours at a time. How can I get her to ease off without offending her?

A. Ah the pop in! Such a fun part of life – in small doses. You need to break what has developed into a routine for your neighbour. Try taking control by mixing things up a little. Instead of waiting for her to pop in, ring and invite her over for a meal next week. When she is with you, suggest a catch up the following week – at a different time and a different venue. Sometimes suggest a cup of tea in a cafe and at other times make it a walk or a drink. In other words, slowly shape your get togethers into weekly or fortnightly events that change each time. Be less available between catch-ups and the habit should be broken within a month or so.

Jo Lamble 
www.jolamble.com.au





    COMMENTS

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    MILA
    20th Oct 2015
    10:02am
    Nobody needs to feel "threaten" by any insensitive/indiscreet neighbourg: privacy is of paramount importance .....space and mutual respect. I had neighbours who use to check on my property as well as whatever I did....whoever came to visit and, I got annoyed: however, as i got to know them.....I realized that they cared about me as I lived on my own. Your suggesdtions are subtle and sensible. On the other hand, it is good to have neighbours who are attentive on what is going on .....without interfering and/or imposing themselves - can only be benefitial for safety and many obvious reasons -specially these days. Cheers!
    Blossom
    20th Oct 2015
    10:37am
    It is nice to think your neighbour is caring enough to check that you are OK, that you don't need help at all. Mum did this with a neighbour of ours who we knew had a heart condition. We never expected a cuppa and by being very diplomatic in telling her we didn't expect one and only visited long enough to check - sometimes it was just a knock on the door to make sure she was Ok. If she invited us in, fair enough. We always invited her over for a cuppa either Sat. or Sun. to have a proper catch up. Occasionally if we went for a picnic at the weekend we would invite her to come with us. Her family lived in the country, had their own business and didn't visit often and she missed seeing her grandchildren. My Dad did odd maintenance jobs for her. We never went in at all if we knew she had visitors. Mum and Dad were unable to get a phone when they first applied and needed one for medical reasons. She suggested they applied for a party line off of hers. Mum and Dad paid 1/2 rent, all of the extra charges added for the party line and always put the price of a public call in a jar every time they made a call. Another advantage was we could call each other free of charge. While she was still working we never answered calls at night or at weekends unless we knew she definitely wasn't home. My Mum had an elderly Auntie who sometimes rang on a weekend. Our neighbour would answer the call, they would talk for awhile, then our neighbour would switch it through to us and say "you can have your call now". We both had a handle on a special box that we wound to call each other. They had met on a few occasions as she was always invited to tea for our birthdays which apart from her was relatives only.
    cockrone
    20th Oct 2015
    12:28pm
    What about the noisy neighbours who party nightly. When asked if they could possibly tone it done after midnight - reply they are over 40 and can do as they wish!!!
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    12:38pm
    Same problem here now cockrone !! :-( It doesn't matter how many warnings the Ingrates get here, makes NO Difference ! 3 ... I Person Units oppose Me now have more Freeloader Boarders than is healthy ! They are in out in out 24/7 ! :-( And noisy, Arrogant, Rude and Drunk,Drugged !!! :-( But don't say one word about it or YOU are a RACIST !! :-) :-)
    Arisaid
    20th Oct 2015
    12:40pm
    You can have my noisy neighbours. Elderley, playing Greek music most days (outside). Have Greek friends over frequently who shout at each other and over each other in Greek, over the music. I have some hearing loss and can still hear them when I take my hearing aids out! Have asked politely if they could turn it down but to no avail. This is not a racist rant, they just happen to be Greek.
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    12:41pm
    PS.. I've SURRENDERED and just Shut the door and live in My Prison Cell now :-( :-( :-(
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    12:46pm
    More PS.. One opposite Me just got out of Rehab and bought 5 Boarders home with her ??? :-( Between the 3,One Person Units there must be at least 18 of them living there !! :-( So I'm not whinging here, Am I ? :-)
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    12:50pm
    EXTRA PS.. This Racist, Political (CRAP) Correctness, has gone WAY TOO FAR !! And Its BLOODY ONE SIDED !!:-(
    Pardelope
    20th Oct 2015
    4:19pm
    Noisy music - retaliate with your own loud music - if you won't be getting other neighbours against you. Classical arias e.g. Carmen, the 1812 Overture (which has loud cannon fire), or semi-classical e.g. "I'm calling you" from Rosemarie. There was a You tube video about a man in a New York apartment who rigged up his hi-fi system to switch on whenever the noise from his neighbours hi-fi (played at all hours) would turn on. He rigged it so that, it faced their wall and as their volume went up, his would go louder - automatically even if he wasn't home. After being regaled with loud music (not of their liking) they did eventually get the message to keep the noise down.
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    4:31pm
    A year or so back I gave the Beech opposite the William Tell Overture followed by Mario Laser top up ! that worked for about a fortnight !! :-) :-)
    Pardelope
    20th Oct 2015
    5:49pm
    Good choices particolor.
    disillusioned
    20th Oct 2015
    2:05pm
    I had this happen years ago, and the neighbour would trek in with several small children and stay for hours. In the end, it drove me out of the house as soon as I heard her front door close, and I'd stay out for several hours. I am now in my late 60's and live on my own - I have an answer machine and 'vet' my calls, and do have quite a social life, so am out a lot. But if anything should happen to me, I'd rather die on the floor of my unit than get carted off to hospital and stuck in a nursing home to end my days. Like the lady in the article, I like my own company!
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    2:49pm
    Same Here Now ! :-)
    Pardelope
    20th Oct 2015
    4:00pm
    Me too!
    Pardelope
    20th Oct 2015
    3:56pm
    When my late husband and I got married (my first time at 46, and he for the second time at 57) we each sold our houses and bought one together in a nice quiet area. On the first day, we were greeted by the elderly widower next door who lived in a granny flat behind the house his son and family lived in. Within a few minutes, he was telling us about his service in the Army during WWII - this was a portent of the future!

    He was a very early riser and we were both night owls. He would have finished a day in the garden when we were just starting on such things. He would also appear when we were enjoying a nice afternoon (as newly weds do) and it became a daily thing for him to come over for an afternoon cuppa after he had cleaned up. He could be quite opinionated and stubborn, and gentle (or not so gentle) hints fell on deaf ears. He was lonely and took a shine to me - so my husband would excuse himself and leave me to be regaled with war stories and his opinions on just about everything. My opinions didn't matter and he (like the rest of his family) would simply raise the volume and talk over anyone else. I doubt if he actually knew much about us, but I knew practically everything about his life off by heart.
    If visitors came, he would stay and do the same to them.

    We didn't want to annoy him, as we had observed that he could be difficult if he didn't like people - and we did understand that he was lonely.

    I gradually weaned him off slightly, by asking for his advice and giving him small jobs in our garden. I would make sure I was still working in the garden, or out shopping, at the time he usually came for a cuppa. I would also go to his place for a cuppa or to give him some small thing - before he got a chance to visit us. That way, I could control the length of time - and check that he was ok.

    I'm sure his family (especially his daughter-in-law) appreciated that he was spending time with us (me) - and I did get him to do some useful jobs. I must admit though, that he did alter how we lived, and, after some years, when he died of a heart attack after a day in his garden, the extra privacy and time to ourselves was much appreciated.

    The old saying "high fences make good neighbours" is often true, but noise is a real problem. Police here in WA have said (unofficially) that they only respond to noise complaints after at least two different neighbours have phoned them on any particular date. They also suggested security cameras and keeping a diary of comings and goings if we suspected illegal activities.

    Another option is to contact the local Council or Shire for help, but they all have their own rules (official and unofficial). Personally, I think that if noise can be heard outside the property boundary and if it goes on for long periods - it is too loud. Many bad neighbours have an "I, me, and myself" attitude - and this can easily lead to violence.
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    4:24pm
    Same happens here ! But usually when its bad a good Neighbour rings Me and says Ring the Cops will You ? :-) That's at least 2 Then !! :-)
    Anonymous
    20th Oct 2015
    5:30pm
    Pardelope

    I read the comments after I posted my own..... Heck, I certainly would have been a tad stronger than that and set some boundaries, especially when I had guests.

    Loneliness doesn't give people the right to imposed themselves on other people's lives, especially in the manner you have described.

    In my opinion, this old codger was a bully and used your politeness to impose himself upon you and was well aware that he was overstepping the boundaries but only thought of himself.... no wonder he was lonely.
    Pardelope
    20th Oct 2015
    5:38pm
    Mussitate - you are absolutely right! I would be much stronger now. I have enough years and experience under my belt - and fewer years ahead - to now to feel I have the right to be "a grumpy old woman" and not suffer fools gladly.

    20th Oct 2015
    5:00pm
    Seems that IF the neighbour is so insensitive to her imposing herself onto Tilly, she will certainly not recognise the subtleties you suggest and will possibly take the added social occasions, in addition, to the pop ins.

    I have been brought up to respect other people's feeling but don't understand the need to manipulate the situation, rather than simply talking to the person in an open, honest and caring way.

    Have a cuppa and let her know that she is liked and appreciated but that you are used to your own seclusion and get DISTRESSED when you are interrupted during most days and then make a time and date .... you could even suggest one of the meets is at HER house.

    On your first meeting after the talk, preferably the first is outside your house, either buy her a small inexpensive gift or pay for a cake to go with her coffee.

    Make it a special occasion to show you like her and appreciate her company when you are on these little meets.

    Once the meets are established greet her with more enthusiasm if you see her outside, calling out that you were looking forward to coffee the next day, week, etc. She will see she is liked and treated special, so will be happy with the way things have panned out.
    Alula
    20th Oct 2015
    6:29pm
    I've found if I tell people I'm writing a book and need 100% concentration on specified days, it usually works. Tilly's neighbour sounds somewhat obsessive.
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    8:55pm
    She could tell them she is working on a book about Neighbourhood Pest ! :-) That's gotta Work ! :-)
    Alula
    20th Oct 2015
    9:00pm
    "Do come in - you're perfect for my research!"
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    9:08pm
    Yes ! "Sit down ! Now Why actually did You pop in here today besides to see if You are missing anything ?" :-) :-)
    Alula
    20th Oct 2015
    9:26pm
    "Tell me, on a scale of one to ten, how sticky is your nose?"
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    9:38pm
    I think they went home Mumbling something ? :-) :-)
    CindyLou
    20th Oct 2015
    10:52pm
    Have observed a good solution for people/neighbors who try to drop in uninvited.
    When answering the locked front door, step outside, closing screen door behind yourself. Speak briefly to uninvited person on the front porch etc, telling them that you are busy etc. you control the situation, then politely excuse yourself, saying farewell and return inside closing the door behind you.
    Main thing is not to allow the uninvited inside your home, much easier to control outside.
    particolor
    20th Oct 2015
    11:03pm
    Pepper Spray Works ! :-) :-) :-)
    andytwo
    21st Oct 2015
    4:35am
    I had very noisy young blokes across the road, would not listen to me or police. After a number of visits enough was enough, I told them we were changing the rules of the game if you don't turn the music down I will blow your car up. Peace and quiet ever since.


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