How Horrible Neighbours Made Me Move House 8 Times In 22 Years

24 May 2023 | BY

While most choose to tolerate their horrible neighbours, one family decided to move away and start anew in another neighbourhood 8 times.

horrible neighbours - cover image

We have all heard of horrible neighbours – or even experienced it personally. But what we choose to make of it can alter the situation entirely. Some may choose to stay silent and tolerate their neighbours from hell, while others may take it to social media or the authorities. 

Germaine and her family did neither, instead choosing to remove themselves from the situation by moving houses. This way, they would never have to cross paths with their horrible neighbours again. In the span of 22 years, Germaine has moved a total of 8 times. Here’s the story of how her nightmare neighbours prompted her to move. 

Stalking behaviour and propagating lies

One neighbour in particular was the most challenging to deal with. When Germaine was 5 years old, she stayed on the 12th floor. The neighbour in question, Ben, lived directly below. He was a middle-aged man with a son of similar age as Germaine. 

horrible neighbours - creepy uncleImage for illustration only.
Image credit: vk 

Ben always went about with a frown, which in the eyes of young Germaine made him very unfriendly and unwelcoming. 

But rather than staying away from his neighbours, Ben had a particular habit that made both Germaine and her mother very uncomfortable. Whenever they met, Ben would always take the lift to the 12th floor and follow Germaine and her mother to their unit before taking the stairs down to reach his own flat. Talk about being creepy.

horrible neighbours - hdb windowImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Unsplash

The last straw was when Ben made a ridiculous claim about Germaine’s family. “As the act of smoking at the window in HDB flats wasn’t banned during that time, my father sometimes did so at the kitchen window. The next day, I heard my mother telling him that the 11th-floor neighbour claimed that we burned his house down because of the ashes from the smoke,” Germaine said.

And that was it. Germaine’s family packed their bags and left. It was a pity that they moved since Germaine’s family was quite close with her immediate neighbour, and their house was of an apt size. But ultimately, their neighbour Ben played a large factor in their move.

Unacceptable behaviours

Even when Germaine was in secondary school, bad neighbours kept haunting her family like persistent ghosts.

Germaine had a kaypoh auntie neighbour named Kelly, who’d kept trying to dig out information about her family for no apparent reason. She recalled, “As my father was a business owner at that time, he used to attend meetings till late. One day, Auntie Kelly asked me, ‘Eh ah girl, where is your father?’ She told me this in a very judgemental and condescending tone.”

Afterwards, Germaine couldn’t help but notice that the kaypoh neighbour kept peering into her house and only gave dirty looks. As they weren’t a loud or problematic family, Germaine felt hurt. 

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Image credit:

One incident even escalated and led to the authorities getting involved. Germaine and her family met a kind neighbour named Sally, who looked out for them and even offered meals. One day, Germaine’s family received HDB complaints about noise, which were false. As the complainant’s identity was withheld, they couldn’t reach out to the complainant and resolve the issue. 

When Sally got to know about this, she immediately sided with Germaine’s family and said she knew the complainant – a third neighbour, whom she labelled “problematic”. In hindsight, this should have raised red flags. After observing that Sally also avoided the “problematic” neighbour, Germaine’s family trusted her and stayed in line. 

horrible neighbours - corridorImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Jurong-Clementi Town Council 

Two years later, HDB had called Germaine’s family to inform them about another trivial, one of which was about parking their bicycles in a corridor – even though they did so without obstructing anyone. 

It all clicked. Germaine finally realised who the complainant was all along – Sally. There was no “problematic” third neighbour. Sally was being two-faced and assumed another identity just so she wouldn’t be exposed as the tattletale. Germaine felt that Sally could have directly voiced her unhappiness instead of resorting to such petty tricks.

This incident soured the good relationship Germaine’s family had – or thought they had – with Sally. The fact that no one knew her real personality was frightening.

Adjusting to new environments

horrible neighbours - movingImage for illustration only.
Image credit: CYC Movers 

Until her friends pointed it out, Germaine didn’t really think much about the incessant moving since it was already the norm for her. And while others might look upon the different cases and think them to be bearable, Germaine’s parents cared deeply about being in a good environment and didn’t want her and her siblings to fall victim to be affected by the drama.

Germaine shared that it was also painful to move so many times. “Since young, I’ve had to throw many mementos away even though I wanted to keep them for sentimental purposes. It was like I was forced to ‘delete’ memories every time I moved and ‘restart’ at a new home.” 

With every move, she also had to be the “new kid” in her school, which is not the easiest task to tackle even as adults. 

Lessons learnt

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Image credit: @ourslowhouse

Now 26, Germaine and her family are finally content with their eighth home, a 4-room HDB in central Singapore. Gone are the days when her family stressed over neighbours. 

After moving houses eight times, Germaine has come to realise that neighbours are extremely important. She said, “I’ve learnt not to let my guard down whenever a neighbour treats us ‘well’.

“If you have bad neighbours, I would suggest keeping things to yourself and avoiding them, but if it is a serious matter, HDB might be able to arrange a meeting with both parties to talk things out.” 

Her big tip is to be considerate and understanding to neighbours while keeping a safe distance from them until a sincere connection is made. 

Neighbours from hell

Neighbours can make or break your happiness and security in a community. Luckily for Germaine and her family, they are now living somewhere surrounded by good neighbours. For the sake of those around us, let’s refrain from being hateful or gossip-mongering to ensure the harmony of our community. 

A little kindness goes a long way, after all. 

Names and stories have been edited slightly for clarity and privacy.

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Cover image adapted from: Unsplash, Jurong-Clementi Town Council 

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