Nearly three-quarters of millennials rent their homes, while homeownership rates among this demographic have fallen by 20% in the past 10 years. But just because there are more residents today than in the past doesn’t mean everyone knows how to live in an apartment community. Apartment living can bring unique challenges and might require more consideration to be a good neighbor.
Apartment etiquette can be tricky to navigate — especially if you are accustomed to living in a house with your parents or if you previously owned your own home in the past. Fortunately, common sense and social awareness can help you make friends — or at least live in harmony with your neighbors.
Some apartment communities post rules and guidelines for when it is acceptable to make noise, which may include playing music, practicing an instrument, or even hammering a nail into the wall. If rules are posted, follow those guidelines. But if you know your neighbor’s schedule, you might take that into consideration as well.
For instance, if your neighbor works the night shift and sleeps at 2 p.m., you may be able to crank up the volume during a late-night Netflix binge but use headphones during your mid-day Peloton session.
Likewise, keep noise to a minimum at any time of day when you’re walking through the hallways and common areas.
Does your apartment community have rules for entertaining, such as turning down the music after a certain hour? If not, follow common-sense guidelines and quiet down around 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends.
If you’re friendly with your neighbors, consider inviting them to your event and you won’t have to worry as much about complaints. If your complex has a community hall for parties, consider renting that space, instead. Usually, these public areas are situated farther away from units so that you won’t disturb anyone.
If your community allows pets, you’ll want to be especially mindful of the noise they make. Silence barking as quickly as possible. Make sure to clean up after your pet in public areas. And remember, not everyone is enamored by furry children. Don’t let your dog get too close to your neighbors in the hallway — even if he only wants to be scratched behind the ears.
A smile and a wave can go a long way in forging good relationships. Make sure to acknowledge neighbors when you pick up mail or see them in the hallway or elevator.
If you’re new to the complex, make sure to introduce yourself. But there’s no need to strike up an hour-long conversation every time you see your neighbors, either. A quick exchange about the weather or an upcoming event in your community can help strengthen bonds without taking a lot of time. Most importantly, keep any conversation positive; don’t gossip about the neighbors, complain about the complex or property manager, or spill all your worries each time you see a neighbor in the hallway.
COVID-19 has made it challenging for people to remember how to make small talk. Some people no longer like talking to strangers, while others can’t get enough social interaction. Make it a point to focus on your neighbor’s body language. Are they eager to end the conversation or do they want to chat more?
If you find you hit it off with one of your neighbors, don’t leave meetings to chance. Invite them out for coffee. Being a good neighbor doesn’t mean you have to become best friends with everyone in your community, but forging a few friendships can make apartment living even better.
If you have assigned parking spaces, make sure to honor these rules. Likewise, if you know your neighbor always parks in a certain space, try to leave it open. Ask guests not to park there. If you grew up in a suburban neighborhood, you understand the unspoken rule that guests don’t pull into the driveway. Treat your neighbor’s parking spots in an apartment the same way. And if your unit has electric vehicle charging capabilities and you don’t have an EV, leave that space open for those who do.
If you use community amenities such as the pool, the fitness center, outdoor grills or picnic spaces, make sure you clean up when you’re done. Treat these areas less like spaces in your own home and more like public property — which they are, in a sense.
Knowing how to be a good neighbor is not that much different from being a good co-worker, good friend, or even a good partner. Be sensitive to the other person’s schedule and their desire for either space or connection. Clean up after yourself. Be friendly and polite.
If you have a problem, don’t let it fester and make apartment living miserable for you or your neighbor. You might be surprised how a quick conversation can solve any problem before it turns into an argument. For instance, if your neighbor is making noise after-hours, don’t complain to the property manager or write passive-aggressive notes. Mention it to your neighbor first. They may be new to community living, as well, and not realize how thin the walls are. Apartment living may require some adjustments, but the benefits and the opportunities to build close friendships as a good neighbor are well worth it.
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