A good neighbor is someone who...

Un bon voisin est quelqu'un qui...

brings you soup when you are sick, considerate, friendly, helpful

can lend you a cup of sugar.

does not disturb, mind his own business, and is responsible.

doesn't make loud noises late at night.

helps if necessary.

helps you, is social, always smiles at you

is a family friend.

is considerate and friendly, but the same time can mind his or her own business

is friendly and helpful.

is friendly, comes over every now and then, feeds pets when you're gone

is mindful of propriety, yet gracious and inviting.

is there for you whenever you need them, respects you and cares for you, honest and reliable

knows in what way he can help you.

picks up after their dog, retrieves your mail when you're on vacation, and doesn't park their large vehicle in front of your driveway.

provides support, is friendly, likes to collaborate


respects your privacy

says hello, watches out for you, is pleasant to live next to

watches your kids for you

waters your plants, baby-sits the kids, and provides cups of sugar.

won't ignore signs of trouble.

dit bonjour, dépanne si besoin, ne fait pas trop de bruit

dit bonjour, fait pas de bruit et discute

dit bonjour, sourit, peut rendre service

est courtois mais discret.

est poli, soucieux de son voisinage et sur qui on peut compter

est sympathique et serviable

est sympathique, est prêt à rendre service

est un ami, est compréhensif

ne créé pas d'histoire, peut apporter des petites aides, ne dérange pas ses voisins

ne fait pas de bruit

ne fait pas trop de bruit

nous dit "bonjour", qui peut nous rendre service, qui nous respecte

peut venir à l'aide si il faut.

qui est attentif et prêt à aider

rend service et est aimable

reste cordial, est solidaire.

vous aide quand vous avez besoin de quelque chose et qui est compréhensif.

vous salue, qui peut vous aider en cas de besoin, et qui ne fait pas trop de bruit.


I think it's funny that so many americans said things like "brings you soup" or "lends you sugar". Those are really specific things that we associate with good neighbors. On the other hand, practically everyone on the french side said "dit bonjour". It seems like in france neighbors are helpful if you need them, but for the most part stay out of your life and you stay out of theirs. (they don't make noise...) in america, it seems like we are mostly really good friends with our neighbors (except the ones that don't clean up after their dogs...) and they help us out frequently, for little things and big things. Is that true at all? I know I am good friends with most of my neighbors.

I noticed that some of the MIT students described a good neighbor as a family friend who can look after your kids, but there weren't any responses on the french side relating to baby sitting. I was wondering how the french working mothers take care of their babies. Do you look for baby sitters, or is there a well established day care system?

I think the American reponses would depend on where you live. Perhaps in suburbian areas, very friendly neighbors are liked better, but as a person who has lived in new york city all her life, I can definately say that most people would rather have neighbors who are polite and mind their own business than be what I personally consider to be a little over-friendly. I think my own interpretation of a good neighbor is closer to what is written on the french side.

La vision du « bon voisin » est relativement la même : quelqu’un de serviable, poli, qui ne dérange pas trop…cependant la vision française est bien moins amicale.
Avant de demander des œufs ou du sucre, dont on a nécessairement besoin, un jour où tout est fermé…il faut vraiment bien connaître ses voisins…
Je pense que les français se méfient des leurs voisins. Ceci sûrement dû au fait, que les français restent longtemps au même endroit (déménagement rare), et donc ils font tout pour préserver une entente « acceptable ».
Soit qui peut se résumer à : bonjour, bonsoir, je reste chez moi, tu restes chez toi…
Bon, c’est pas toujours comme ça non plus…il arrive souvent qu’on soit invité chez ses voisins, qu’on aille prendre de leurs nouvelles, qu’on se rende des services…
Les américains vont t’ils vraiment demander un service à leur voisin si simplement, comme on peut le voir dans la fameuse série « Desperate Housewife » ? Pensez-vous que cette série est représentative de la relation entre voisin et globalement de la vie en banlieue américaine ?
Je pense toutefois que la relation de voisinage, dépend de l’endroit où l’on vit et des personnalités de chacun, qu’en pensez vous ?

Pour répondre à Hannah Seong, oui bien sûr que les gens font appel a des baby-sitters, mais ce ne sont pas souvent des voisins qui gardent les enfants. Les gens passent des annonces (dans les petites boutiques, sur le net) ou demande à des connaissances s’ils ne connaîtraient pas quelqu’un pour…
Ce sont souvent des étudiants, comme nous, qui faisons du baby-sitting, après il y les crèches (pour les tout petits) et les nourrices (mais les places sont chères et le prix aussi).

I would have to agree with your conclusion that, whether you live in the United States or in France, the relationship you have with your neighbors is often contingent on the personality of your surroundings. To answer your question Floriane Vatin, I don't think that most people have a relationship with their neighbors as the characters on Desperate Housewives do. From my experience back home, I have had what I would call both good and bad neighbors. For instance, the guy who lives to the left of us is very nice; we smile at each other and say hello to one another, we cut each others grass, we supply the other with power during a hurricane with their generator goes out, and we even play ping pong or foosball with one another from time to time. On the other hand the neighbor to our right is what I would call a bad neighbor. From time to time we'll say hello, but mostly we just look at each other and say nothing; that is pretty much the extent of our niceties. I very much think that like you said it depends on where you live and who you are. If you’re quiet chances are that your neighbors will stay quiet too; if you’re outgoing, chances are you'll make friends with many of your neighbors quickly—unless they have something against red hair?!? (It’s as simple as that, in most cases at least)


I'm from the Bronx, NY, and I can tell you that at least in my neighborhood, nobody knows each other. Everybody keeps to their own, and you would rarely see neighbors knocking on each other's doors for favors. Because America is so huge, each region has its own culture. Even looking just at NYC, each borough has its own feel. Within each borough, each district has its own vibe. That's what I love about NYC. If you don't like one place, it's very easy to move into another neighborhood.

I disagree that our views are that similar for what is a good neighbor. Take what we consider polite. Many of the French responded that politeness was the act of saying "hello" and "thank you". However, the Americans felt it meant their actions in general and their motives behind it. As a result we can have a good neighbor to the French who isn't considered one to the Americans. Although most traits were the same, I do think there are some distinct differences.

Les respects entre les voisins est au commencement de toute relation. Si d'entrée, un voisin est irrespectueux, on ne pourra pas avoir de bonnes relations avec lui. Mais un "bon voisin" ne reste pas uniquement un voisin. Il peut devenir plus qu'un voisin, voire un ami mais ne reste pas uniquement une personne à qui on dit "bonjour" ou "merci".

Depuis quelque années la ville de Paris a lancé l'idée d'un rassemblement entre voisins d'un même immeuble, dans la cour, une fois par an. Ca s'appelle "immeuble en fête", ça marche plus ou moins bien. En tout cas permet de faire connaissance avec ses voisins dans d'autres circonstances que le besoin [de qqchose] ou l'urgence [pb quelconque]. Il est vrai qu'à Paris il est important de bien s'entendre avec ses voisins, car la densité humaine est telle qu'ils font partie de votre vie.

To Jean Clappier, I thought it was interesting that you mentionned that because you live in such close proximity in the city of Paris, you're essentially forced to know your neighbors. I live in the suburbs, and where I come from (California), it's pretty standard for us to not know our neighbors at all. We all mind our own business and do our own things. We rarely every go to our neighbors if we need help. Instead, we go to family or friends. My neighborhood uesd to have something like your "immeuble en fete," where everyone in the neighborhood would get together for a party. However, that tradition didn't really last long because in America, people are constantly relocating for work. People never stay long in one place, making it even more difficult to know your neighbor well. I actually consider myself pretty lucky because one of my best friends right now is my neighbor back at home (home in California, not at MIT).

Si vous avez besoin d'un tire bouchon pour ouvrir une bouteille (le votre est cassé, ou vous l'avez perdu), est-ce que vous allez sonner chez le voisin? Ici je dirai que oui. Merci Tiffany pour ta précédente réponse!

Hi Jean, I've never lived in the US so I can't respond to your question. I don't know if you're interested in knowing this, but I can tell you that in Latin America, if you need something and if you are in good terms with your neighbors (it is also very common to be always in a fight with them), you can ask them any favor you want. Whenever it is possible we help our neighbors and when we need something they help us. I remember that once, after a hurricane passed through Puerto Rico, we didn't have electricity at my house like for a month. But my neighbors did, and they gave us a power extension cord so that we could plug some of the essential things at home.