How To Be A Good Neighbor When You Live In An Apartment Building

With the advent of social media and the persistent idea of finding "your tribe," it may seem like making an effort to meet your neighbors is an outmoded waste of time. But neighbors fulfill a unique role in our social circles, particularly if you live in a close-knit area like an apartment building. As noted by Psychology Today, decades of research have shown that neighbors are a lynchpin in our sense of community. And a 2015 study published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B found relationships with neighbors to be "especially important for more developmental aspects of psychological well-being."


So, why is this particularly important for apartment dwellers? In the U.S., nearly 35% of all households are living in rental properties (via iPropertyManagement). And with so many people housed in such close proximity, life in an apartment complex can easily be made or broken by your neighbors. But, of course, this is a two-way street: if you want other residents to be considerate, you should make sure your own habits are up to par. So, here's how to be a good neighbor when living in an apartment.

Get to know your neighbors

While it may sound old-fashioned, meeting your neighbors can be a great way to establish a community and foster goodwill and can actually become one of the upsides to living in an apartment complex. You don't have to show up with a casserole on move-in day or go around to borrow a cup of sugar, but you can at least introduce yourself in the hallway or leave a friendly note in their mailbox.


Getting to know your neighbors can help you resolve disputes civilly and make it less awkward if you ever need a neighbor's help during an emergency. Dead car battery? It feels a lot easier to ask someone for a jump if you at least know their name already. Plus, creating a network of neighbors is good for apartment safety, as you'll all be quicker to recognize and act on suspicious activity (via Safewise).

When introducing yourself, consider exchanging phone numbers and email addresses as well. This can help you keep in touch about local info or reach out for a quick favor. Don't take it personally if certain neighbors won't say hi or interact with you much. They may be shy or even nervous about their language skills. Just continue to wave and be friendly without applying any pressure.


Attend neighborhood events

Does your complex put on community-building get-togethers like pool parties or barbecues? Consider showing up. While it can be a lot more comfortable to hide out in your apartment and avoid all eye contact with other residents, you won't win any friends or even acquaintances this way. And the lack of interaction among renters can be bad for everyone's mental health. According to a survey carried out by the U.K.'s Office of National Statistics, 61% of young renters reported that they felt lonely occasionally, often, or always. And, of these, 55% felt that they belonged to their neighborhood "not very strongly" or "not at all."


Though they may come across as cheesy, community events can be an easy way to start establishing connections among residents — whether you're reaching out to lonely neighbors or feeling a little lonely yourself. As an added bonus, attending landlord-sponsored events can also help you get to know the staff at your apartment complex, and it's always helpful to be on good terms with the leasing and maintenance workers.

Be mindful of quiet hours

Many complexes have designated quiet hours at night, so everyone can enjoy a peaceful sleep. These hours are typically meant to help reduce conflict between neighbors and lessen the likelihood of noise complaints (via Pay Rent). To be a more thoughtful resident, during quiet hours you should probably turn down your stereo, hold off on loud DIY projects, and try not to stomp all over your downstairs neighbor's ceiling.


Does this mean you can't have fun? Of course not. Maybe just invest in a comfortable and high-quality pair of headphones so you can still enjoy movies and music at full volume. And remember to consider the level of noise in your car. That thudding bass may be audible in every apartment you drive past when you're coming home or going out for the evening, so keep it moderate until you hit the open road.

Of course, it's impossible to be silent all the time. But if you have some unavoidable noise situation, like a crying infant, it can help to give your neighbors an apologetic heads-up. Social media has seen several such neighborly notes go viral, with an outpouring of sympathy and positive comments from users. You can even find sample letters to help frame your apology (via By taking accountability for the noise — and maybe offering a kind gesture, like some free earplugs — you can stay on your neighbors' good side despite the racket.


Return favors

If your neighbor recommended a good pet sitter or brought your package inside to keep it safe, pay these kind gestures forward. Practicing a little common courtesy will make life easier for everyone and help make your apartment complex feel both safer and friendlier. For instance, if you borrow something from a neighbor, be sure to return it promptly and in good condition. Or, if you borrow something consumable like laundry detergent or a food ingredient, replace it with an equivalent amount from the same brand of product (via Emily Post Etiquette).


A few other ways to practice apartment courtesy include offering to house-sit or collect their mail, recommending local businesses, warning neighbors about safety issues like cars being burgled, or helping an overburdened resident with their grocery haul. By politely offering your help or knowledge, you can create a bridge of trust that neighbors will hopefully reciprocate.

Be respectful of shared areas and amenities

Finally, no one wants to live in a nasty neighborhood, so make sure you're keeping your shared areas tidy. Don't leave smelly trash bags in the hallway, or clutter up the corridor with junk. And since no one has their own yard in an apartment complex, it's extra important to clean up after your pets.


It's also a good practice to be considerate about shared resources and amenities so that everyone can use them. For example, if you're about to leave on a two-week vacation, maybe don't leave your car in everyone's favorite parking space. Or if your complex has chargers for electric vehicles, don't needlessly block them with your gas-powered car (via Sugar Living). And if you use a communal grill, be sure to clean it after you're done. Being a responsible resident is the easiest way to prevent disagreements or bad blood with your neighbors.