When it comes to apartment living, getting along with your neighbors can make a huge impact on our daily lives and how we feel about our home and neighborhood in general. Whether you live in a busy city or somewhere more remote, learning neighborly etiquette benefits everyone. Here are eight tips from Houzz to navigate the ins-and-outs of being a pleasant neighbor. When you're finished reading, take a stroll around the neighborhood or sit on your porch and see what friends you'll make!
1. Be friendly. If you are a newcomer to the neighborhood, a friendly smile and hello can go a long way toward establishing positive relationships with neighbors. When you run into someone you haven't met yet, introduce yourself! If you've been in the area for awhile and someone new has just moved in, welcoming them with a small gift, like home-baked goods or a treat from a favorite local shop, is a thoughtful gesture.
2. Be considerate about noise. Many apartment complexes have rules about noise and quiet hours. As a rule, keep music and noisy outdoor chatter down after 9 p.m., and try not to rev up the power tools or leaf blower in the early hours before 8 or 9 a.m.. If you are planning a party, try to let your neighbors know ahead of time — better yet, invite them!
If you find that your neighbors are being too loud, your first step should be a polite knock on the door. In a calm and collected tone of voice, tell them that you understand they are having a great time; however it's getting too loud for you. Request that they please turn the music down or kindly take the party indoors. And be sure to thank them when they do what you've asked! Being polite and understanding will make them more likely to acquiesce, and peace and quiet will be restored in no time.
Tip: If you live upstairs, consider using area rugs over hard flooring to muffle the noise of footsteps — a common complaint among downstairs neighbors. Plus, a small rug can add a nice decorative touch to any room.
3. Don't fear communication or confrontation. Deal with problems in person. Just as you learned to handle noisy neighbors, any other problem can be addressed promptly and in person. While it may seem easier or less aggressive to write a note or dash off a quick email, written complaints can actually seem more mean spirited than you intended. Allow your neighbor the chance to hear what you have to say, maybe over a soothing cup of tea, and then listen to their side as well. Together, you'll be able to sort out the issue.
Just as you'd handle a situation with a coworker you have to see everyday, your neighbor is likely not going anywhere. Therefore, it is in both of your best interests to find a way to make the relationship work.
On a related note, though it may feel like bonding to complain about shared problems or gossip about fellow neighbors, in general gossiping only deteriorates relationships rather than making them stronger.
4. Be reasonable about pets. Often, apartment complexes have rules and restrictions regarding pets. But if you live in a neighborhood with pets aplenty, tread lightly. If you are bothered by a neighbor's pet — for loud barking, pooping on your lawn etc. — and its an ongoing problem, discuss it directly with your neighbor. You may be upset,but try to think of something kind to say about your neighbor's pet before stating your complaint.
For pet owners, if a neighbor comes to you to complain about your darling animals, do your best to listen and acknowledge their upset. Assure them you will do everything in your power to remedy the situation: scoop up poop, keep your pet on a leash, and maybe even put your puppy in training.
5. Respect common spaces and shared walls. Clear out your personal belongings from any shared hallways, entrances, and common rooms in your apartment or condo. Space inside your apartment may be minimal, but it's important to find another place for your stroller or bicycle. Safety first! Crowded common areas can become a fire hazard. Also, someone could trip and fall.
When grilling outdoors, be aware of any drifting BBQ smoke. If outdoor spaces in your apartment building are extremely close together, gas grills might be the way to go. And of course, if you smoke, protect those around you from inhaling secondhand smoke.
6. Keep your front yard tidy. While there's no need to be competitive with your neighbors over whose lawn is the greenest or cleanest, maintaining a basic level of tidiness will be much appreciated. After garbage and recycling has been collected, put the cans away. Keep your grass mowed and any weeds plucked from the ground. Finally, to avoid the cluttered look, try not to store too much stuff on your front porch or in the driveway.
7. Park kindly. Always try to park in front of your own house if possible, and avoid blocking your neighbors' driveways. In some neighborhoods with narrow streets, it is the custom for everyone to park their cars on only one side. Even if it's not an official rule that's declared on street signs, it's best to follow suit.
8. Build community. Building good rapport with those around you comes down to the little things. For instance, if you plant tomatoes in your garden and produce a delicious crop, why not bring a basket next door to share and make a salad? Smile generously and, when you have a spare moment or two, be willing to lend a hand if help is needed. While you don't need to be part of an official neighborhood watch to help keep your neighborhood safe, simply getting to know your neighbors and stopping to chat with them can go a long way toward creating an atmosphere where everyone has each other's back. Let your immediate neighbors know when you are heading out of town, and whether you'll be having someone else stay or come by your house while you're away.
Some neighborhoods frequently hold block parties and other annual community events. But if yours doesn't have these type of communal activities already, consider organizing one!