Living in an apartment building can be difficult. It's important to get along with your neighbours and respect each other, but everyone has different ideas on just how far that goes and what that encompasses.
Most of our neighbours are lovely people and keep to themselves. Unfortunately a small few just aren't considerate, probably for no reason other than they've never thought about how their actions affect others. To this end, I offer a short list of things you can do to ensure that you are a considerate neighbour for a peaceful coexistence with your neighbours in the apartment building.
Footwear: You should wear shoes at all times while in your apartment, especially if you're on the top floor of the building. Make several more trips across your apartment (i.e. between a bedroom and the bathroom) than necessary for added effect, and later at night it is advisable to break into short jogs through the apartment. 💡 Tip: For best results, women should wear high-heeled footwear, and men should wear boots with a heavy sole.
Communal doors: Doors in the building other than your own apartment door are designed to be left ajar, so you should keep them like that. Don't trouble yourself with closing doors behind you, even if someone was careless enough to close it themselves. During colder months, it's important that doors are left open to encourage draughts through-out the building. If you must close the door (for example, it is your apartment's door), use minimal effort but ensure the door is closes loudly — this is especially important for heavy doors and gates which are often closed too quietly. 💡 Tip: Don't be worried about damaging doors in older apartment buildings, as your landlord has plenty of money to fix this later, and it will make it easier to leave the door ajar in future.
Communal spaces: Large open areas within the building such as stairwells, hallways and courtyards often offer acoustic properties which can amplify sound. They also are useful storage areas for when you don't feel the need to take your garbage out to the street (especially if you have packing material left over from when you moved in) — your neighbours will be more than happy to take care of that for you, and if not they will at least appreciate your efforts to improve the often stale smell of these areas with the fragrant smell of your month-old food scraps. 💡 Tip: Take garbage bags down to the ground level, closer to the street, to maximise the chance that another neighbour will take care of it for you.
Laundry: It's important to operate washing machines and other noisy equipment late at night. The machine may not sound loud enough when you're standing next to it; however during spin-cycles the vibrations can cause deep rumbling sounds that reverberate through the building's structure. 💡 Tip: Try combining your laundry with vacuuming to offer a surround-sound experience for your neighbours.
Basement: People often have the use of a storage room in the basement of the building. Whether you have your own storage room or not, if you have access to the basement you should use it to anonymously donate large electrical goods and furniture you no longer need (particularly when you're moving out), and to store hazardous and highly flammable liquids such as kerosene. 💡 Tip: You are of course welcome to accept any of the other donations down there if you wish, so be sure to try to open the doors and go through boxes to find out what might be available.
Children and pets: Children and pets need regular exercise — encourage them to do so inside the comfort of the apartment. 💡 Tip: For children, ensure they are wearing the appropriate footwear.
Entertainment: At night, it would be considerate of you to gradually raise the volume of your television or sound system until well after midnight. Your neighbours will appreciate you sharing the movie you're watching with them as they fall asleep, particularly as they will only be able to hear the soothing sound of all of the bass frequencies. Often this can turn into an enjoyable game for them where they can guess what you're watching or listening to. If you think they haven't worked it out, you should open your windows to allow them to hear the higher frequencies as an additional hint (especially in summer when their windows are also likely to be open). 💡 Tip: If you don't have anything to watch on television, use the time to catch up on some laundry, or to move some large electrical goods or furniture into the basement for donation.
Security: Encourage your friends to use every button on the building's door-phone to gain entrance to the building when they visit. Your neighbours will be more than happy to let people they don't know into the building for you, and you of course should reciprocate by opening the door for anyone you don't know who rings your door bell. Leaving the main door or gate to the building unlocked and open is perfectly acceptable if you're just stepping out briefly (any short time such as four or five hours) as this will save you time when you return to the building, but of course don't leave it open for days. If you return to the building and the main door/gate is open, someone has probably just left and will be back soon, so you may as well just leave it the way you found it. 💡 Tip: While the door is open, the general public is free to collect unclaimed large electrical goods and furniture people may have anonymously donated in the basement, so it's important to give them several opportunities to do so.
Parking: Regardless of local laws, you are of course entitled to park anywhere on the property around your apartment building, including a courtyard if you have one. If your car is blocked by another, or you're unable to park in your usual spot, you can use your car's horn — the common friendly method is to initially use the horn five or six times, followed by a long beep of at least thirty seconds, and repeat as necessary. Don't worry about hitting walls, fences or gates with your car — your landlord has enough money to pay for these damages. 💡 Tip: Make sure you rev your car vigorously (RPM needle should enter the red area upon each rev) once you start it. Your car will sound loud and may also emit a lot of fumes, but it's vital to the smooth running of your car.
Loft apartments: It is perfectly reasonable to hold regular concerts in your loft apartment with live bands. Tentatively invite your neighbours by posting a generic message on MySpace or Facebook advertising the event, but be sure to ask for a cover-charge and offer a wide variety of alcoholic drinks for sale and consumption. Ensure that you use appropriate sound reinforcement (microphones, amplifiers) so the neighbours who couldn't make it can still enjoy the live music. 💡 Tip: Make the events smoke-free by allowing your guests to smoke and drink in the communal spaces of the building. Your neighbours will enjoy the festival-style atmosphere this will create.
Follow these steps and you will be on your way to rental bliss. Can you think of anything I've missed?
I’m still… "using"... the blog, I’ve just not had the opportunity to actually… blog… using the blog… I intend to clean up some posts and get them published, and try to get back into it, following fervent encouragement from a certain Irish man (you know who you are, John).
Making friends: If you do at one point have the urge to interact with your neighbours, do not hesitate to interrupt their concerts with incessant phone calls, and be sure to any musical interlude abruptly with a visit from the police in bullet-proof vests to be sure they do take your friendship attempt seriously.
Also, a good way of making friends is to occasionally post ever-so-slightly passive aggressive notes on doors after having closed them despite people’s best efforts to leave them open. Tip: Don’t, under any circumstances, hesitate to dob in your new friends to the landlord as they will greatly appreciate the letter from the lawyer that will follow.
I couldn’t believe it when the riot police rocked up as a result of that phone call. Who would have known that calling the local police station at that time would divert to the central dispatch.
I must admit, the police took the whole thing very seriously, but with a good sense of humour. I think they were surprised that someone would consider this to be "acceptable".
I just can’t believe that they lied to my face – they said they had full agreement with the landlord to hold the concerts, that they had asked everyone in the building, and they didn’t have a Facebook/MySpace page promoting it. Since I already had the evidence, it turns out they actually did have a Facebook page to promote the concerts and a MySpace page to attract and book the bands.
When everything started to crumble, they claimed it was all in the name of art and people need this. Well, I need sleep, so I think I know whose side I’m going to be on!
Unfortunately they didn’t count on small world theory – our neighbours downstairs had a friend who was invited to a concert, and the email included details of the cover-charge and mentioned alcohol would be sold. They were surprised to see a concert being advertised with the same address as their friends, so word got around. Woops.
Through their own Facebook page, we found they had even been mentioned in an article in the Belgian Elle magazine. They even advertised the space as being open to the public, more appropriate to have a band playing than to live inside, and occupancy of over 100 people.
The look on the landlord’s face when he found out was priceless.