Living in Close Quarters
People living in close quarters, such as in an apartment or condominium, have a unique need to be considerate of one another. When there's only a wall between you and the guy next door, it's easy to feel like you're always on top of each other. That's why you need to be especially sensitive to how your lifestyle may negatively affect your neighbors.
Most organized communities have something called common ground, which is an area where everyone living in that place can access. In apartments and condominiums, this could be a paved or grassy area that abuts your building.
This land is common ground, and you should treat it as such. Don't let your kids leave their toys outside on common ground, and always clean up after yourself if you have a barbecue or party on common ground. If you choose to walk your dog on common ground, you must pick up after him. By applying common courtesy to the use and care of your common ground, you'll have a better chance of staying on good terms with those living nearby.
The shared space between adjacent buildings is called an easement, and you should always make sure that it remains clear, not only as a courtesy to your neighbors but also in case any fire engines need to access it.
When you live in a neighborhood, you have to remember that your home is not only a reflection of you but also it's something that your neighbors have to look at every day. Do your best to keep your home's exterior as neat and tidy as possible, including cleaning up your garbage cans immediately after trash pickup or discarding newspapers that may collect on your front step.
You should also avoid decorating the outside of your home in a way that others might not enjoy as much as you do. This could be an abundance of Christmas lights at the holidays or painting your shutters an offbeat color, like bright purple.
Your community association may have restrictions on outdoor embellishments, including seasonal items like holiday decorations. Make sure you check with your association first before repainting or redecorating the exterior of your home, lest you risk breaking its rules.
Noise in the Interior
When you live in an attached home setting, whether it's a townhouse, condominium, or apartment, you're going to be sharing at least one wall with your neighbor on one side or the other. You may also share a floor/ceiling with a neighbor upstairs or downstairs.
Each of you needs to be considerate of the other by keeping tabs on how much noise you make. If you live above someone and have hardwood floors, you should always take your shoes off in the house. There's nothing more annoying to listen to than the “click-clack” of high heels on a hardwood floor above you. You should also avoid any loud thumps from running and jumping, and make sure you're vigilant about having your kids do all of their rough housing outside, where they won't bother the neighbors downstairs as much.
For an apartment with hardwood floors, you may want to consider putting down area rugs all around. This will help cut down on noise that travels downstairs through your floor and your neighbor's ceiling. Your downstairs neighbors are sure to appreciate your effort to keep the noise down.
Noise not only travels up and down but side to side. If you have folks living on either side of you, keep the volume on your computer, TV, or radio at a reasonable level so you don't bother the neighbors. You should also keep your voices down, especially if you decide to chat late into the night. And if you have dogs, make sure that they don't bark incessantly. Most apartment complexes have quiet hours that every resident needs to respect, and the notion of quiet applies to all noises—manmade and otherwise.
Parking Lot Protocol
When parking your car in your complex's lot, always keep the rules in mind. If you park according to permits and numbered lots, always put your car in its designated space, even if that spot isn't convenient for you.
Be conscious of how you park your car every time you come home—you wouldn't want to take up two spaces or prevent someone else from parking in their designated spot because of your carelessness. Remind friends who visit that they need to park in guest parking and that putting their car in your neighbor's space this one time isn't OK.