Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Apartment Neighbor Etiquette

Robert Frost famously said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” That’s all well and good in suburbia’s white-picket-fence world, but what about your apartment complex? When at least one wall in every room borders someone else’s living space, it’s entirely different etiquette that makes a good neighbor.

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  1. Be Mindful of Noise

Record player in an apartment

No matter how thick your landlords claim your walls to be, noise is often an issue, and it really determines a good neighbor from a bad one. That doesn’t mean you can’t watch movies, have parties, or generally live life as you please. You just have to be aware of your neighbor’s sensitivities. If you’re an early commuter, try not to smash your way downstairs. On that same token, if you’re arriving late, keep your conversations low in the hallway. If you are going to host a party, be courteous. You don’t have to invite your entire complex, but a good neighbor would slip a note under the door (or knock!) to let the surrounding floors know what to expect come Friday night, because there’s nothing like security or the police to completely wreck a party—even if you’re all over 21.


  1. Don’t Be A Hoarder

Clutter in a messy bedroom

When you’re exhausted from work, it’s easy to throw your chores out the window. But picking up trash, keeping your external spaces tidy, and making sure that you respect common areas—be it kitchens, dumpsters, or laundry spaces— makes it nicer not just for everyone else, but also for you (and it can prevent those “what’s that smell?” moments). If you see a piece of garbage, throw it out, even if you have someone that takes care of the common spaces. No one should wonder whether or not you’ve been featured on the show Hoarders. Also, in some apartment complexes you may get a fine for noncompliance, such as hanging electric lights, flags, or other potential eyesores from balconies or windows. Balance “making it yours” with courtesy to others. After all, you all share the space.

Related: 3 Daily Habits to Help You Keep Your Apartment Clean


  1. You Don’t Have to Be Friends

Being a good neighbor doesn’t mean you have to introduce yourself to everyone or become best buddies like in the show Friends. When you live in cramped spaces, it may feel like your college dorm, where everyone interacted, chatted, and shared the same experiences. In the real world, however, you shouldn’t feel pressure to reach out to your neighbors or constantly talk to them. Like you, they’re probably exhausted after a long day of work, or rushing out the door.


  1. But You Do Have to Be Polite

Smiling friendly girl on a walk

Just because you’re not friends doesn’t mean you don’t have to make an effort. Saying “hello,” giving a smile when you walk by, acknowledging their presence, and holding doors open make a big difference. We often get lost in the go-go-going of daily life, but pausing to acknowledge other people—especially those living around you—adds a bit more humanity to your day. Give a little bit of yourself and you’ll be surprised by how friendly your neighbors will be. Next time you need something—perhaps even the proverbial cup of sugar—those neighbors will know who you are and are more likely to care.


  1. How to Handle It

Sometimes, it’s not you, it’s them. We all know someone in our vicinity who makes life miserable. If you really can’t stand your neighbor, a new place is just one click away!


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Kayla Lewkowicz

Kayla Lewkowicz

Kayla Lewkowicz hails from the small town of Hopkinton, MA, home of the Boston Marathon. A digital marketer by day and freelance writer by night, she's a passionate storyteller, reader, hiker, swimmer, runner, and eater. Like what she has to say? Subscribe to her blog or say hello on Twitter @kllewkow.

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