by Marilyn Peh on

Unless you’re a Crazy Rich Asian with some serious real estate in Singapore, the idea of living in close proximity to strangers won’t be particularly novel or exciting to you.

In fact, for the 80 per cent of Singaporeans who live in HDB flats, ‘close’ is being separated by a mere wall, and sharing a corridor such that walking by each others’ homes is a matter of daily occurrence.

Sometimes, that closeness is a good thing, because your neighbours can turn out to be the friends you never knew you needed. Other times, simple disagreements can turn into full-blown warzones involving weaponised household items.

But getting to know your neighbour better isn’t rocket science. Depending on your personality type, we have some ideas for how you can score some brownie points with your neighbours, so they’ll share some of that delicious-smelling curry with you everyone can live together in peace and harmony.

Do people often describe you as… strong and silent?

You hate crowds, you abhor making small talk, and the idea of trying to engage in awkward conversation with people you know nothing about makes you want to curl into a ball and die.

As the antithesis of the social butterfly, your friends call you the ‘strong and silent’ one – a person of few words whose presence is more likely to be felt than heard.

For what you lack in words, however, you more than make up for with your thoughtfulness. Instead of grand shows of affection, you’ll buy snacks for your colleagues and quietly help out at home with the housework.

Your neighbourly superpower: It’s unlikely you’ll be sharing a heart-to-heart talk with your next-door neighbour any time soon. But with your keen eye and helpful nature, you could come to the aid of the housewives and elderly folks of your estate on their next grocery run.

At the first sign of an overloaded trolley, or overweight plastic bags, you’ll magically appear, ready to lend your muscles for their over-ambitious shopping spree.

For added motivation, you can also think of it as a substitute for arms day, without so much as stepping into the gym.

Do people often describe you as… a clean freak?

You’re a stickler for cleanliness, and have a spotless, hyper-organised home to show for it. Your friends are always marvelling at your Marie Kondo-level of decluttering skills, and your idea of a therapeutic weekend is one spent reorganising your eight wardrobes.

Fiercely houseproud, you may also enjoy hosting others at your home, where your meticulous side takes care of all the little details, ensuring your guests have a good time.

Your neighbourly superpower: Well, the obvious answer is that your penchant for cleanliness already makes you a good neighbour, because you’re likely to have equally high standards for the state of the areas outside your home and other common areas.

But why stop there? From mosquito breeding to fire hazards, lapses in upkeeping within homes and around common spaces can create lots of trouble beyond just plain unsightliness. And that’s where you can help your neighbours out by gently reminding them to be responsible for their property.

Do people often describe you as… an empath?

You’re the aunt agony of your social circle, and you have a way of putting people at ease when they’re around you. Oh, and you also cried all seven times you watched Titanic.

With your strong emotional intelligence, you easily relate to others and empathise with how they feel. You’re also the first to notice when somebody is having a bad day, and more importantly, you know just what to say and do to make them feel better.

Your neighbourly superpower: Nothing escapes your observant nature. And in the context of your neighbourhood, that can include the nervousness felt by a family of new immigrants, the loneliness of living alone for elderly singles, and even the stresses felt by young neighbours going through a busy exam period.

Fortunately, you’re not shy to offer a friendly smile or caring word that can make them feel better.

The best part? It comes so naturally to you that you won’t even see it as making a special effort to be more friendly to your neighbours.

Do people often describe you as… a masterchef-in-waiting?

You don’t need a recipe book to cook up a storm in the kitchen, and are usually responsible for the wafts of appetising smells that permeate along the common corridor before meal times. Your friends often say it’s a wonder that you don’t already have a cooking TV show to your name.

Whether it’s whipping up an elaborate eight-course meal or making baked treats, your love language is food, and there are few things that make you happier than to see others enjoying the food you’ve prepared for them.

Your neighbourly superpower: Singaporeans love to eat, but not everyone can cook. That’s probably true for some of your neighbours, too, who can only sniff enviously at the air as you work on another batch of your signature brownies.

Sharing is caring, and there are few things that will break the ice with your neighbours as easily as sharing food. If you worry that arriving unannounced at their doorstep with a full pot of rendang may seem a little over-enthusiastic, consider festive occasions where all you’ll need to prepare are some festive snacks and a sincere smile.

Trust us, no one says no to sugee cookies!

Contrary to popular belief, getting to know our neighbours better doesn’t have to be a process that requires us to step too far out of our comfort zones. All it takes is a bit of empathy and respect, and of course, someone to take that first step forward.

Need more ideas on how to ace this neighbourly thing? Read more here.