Dealing with terrible neighbors is a common occurrence that will get easier by following basic guidelines.

Good apartment living advice is hard to come by since no two living situations are identical, and what works for one person may not necessarily be what works for the next. Apartment living has its drawbacks, but it holds potential for some pretty sweet perks if you’re looking at the situation with educated eyes. Learn more and even find an apartment here. Some of the greatest things about living in an apartment community are the tasks and expenses you won’t have to incur as a homeowner would. No lawn mowing or snow shoveling, no fixing the toilet or the washing machine when it breaks down. In those ways, you’ve got it made.

However, the list of cons is usually what keeps people from ever moving out of their parents’ house. If you’ve never lived in an apartment before, you don’t know the joys of walking in through the main door and being pummeled with an immediate assault on your nasal cavities in the form of the stench of 12 different dinners being cooked at once, or perhaps the telltale sign that it was cleaning day by the overpowering bleach odor still gripping the indoor air. You also aren’t privy to being ripped from your cocktail coma at 6 a.m. by the early-rising and annoyingly bouncy 3-year-old upstairs.

It’s a fair assumption to say that you simply will not like all of your neighbors. Apartments are veritable melting pots of culture and personality, and not everyone is all Hakuna Matada all the time. There are ways to spin these situations in a positive light and the following list will help individuals living in apartments, new and experienced alike, find that fragile balance between sanity and the kind of frustration that leads to early graying.

1. Get To Know Your Neighbors 

Especially the ones who annoy you. Remember the saying, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”? Well, annoying neighbors might not be your enemies, but if you take even just a teeny bit of time to get to know them little-by-little, you’ll eventually feel comfortable enough to casually address the migraines from which you suffer when their 3-year-old starts jumping on the bed early Saturday morning; and they won’t feel like they’re being personally attacked by a complete stranger. Aside from the general confidence you’d gain to have that kind of conversation, getting to know your neighbors will afford you a better understanding of their circumstances and any empathy you begin to feel will soon overshadow much of what once agitated you.

2. Create a Sanctuary 

Smaller spaces are difficult to spruce up, especially if you have a roommate who has their own interior decorating ideas, but you need to have a space that’s just for you where you can sit and unwind without being disturbed by noisy neighbors or wafting funk. If you’ve ever seen the inside of a recording studio, you know that the walls are lined with a material that resembles egg cartons. This material helps to keep outside noise out and inside noise in, as well as aiding in preventing echo. The professional material is definitely not cheap, but egg crate foam mattress toppers are an amazingly effective and inexpensive substitute. In fact, you may be able to get it free from someone in your neighborhood by checking your local Freecycle groups.

The problem with foam bed toppers is that they’re not very visually appealing, and unless you’re a fan of earthy tones, it probably won’t match the room in which you put it. However, fixing this problem is easy and it may even add some flair to your safe room. First, go to your local hardware store and purchase a decent amount of removable adhesive. Foam is lightweight, but you don’t want it floating down onto your face in the middle of the night, because it didn’t stick to the ceiling. Along with the adhesive, get a can of spray paint in whatever color you’d like to complement your room. You’ll want to get one can for each large piece and one for every two smaller pieces. Foam is very porous, and it will absorb the color to its core, so you will likely need two or more coats of paint to completely cover the original color.

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to have some creative fun. Take the foam outside to paint (never spray paint indoors, there’s not nearly enough ventilation). Once dry, take the foam back inside and measure the area onto which you need to place the foam. Typically, you’ll want to cover the ceiling as much as you can, and any walls you share with neighbors. Cut the foam to fit the area if necessary and then begin the hanging process. If you’re able, double the pieces up so that you have the egg carton shape facing both the surface of the wall or ceiling and you. Tack the flat parts of the foam together back-to-back with the adhesive before hanging to make it easier. Having the extra layer will provide a bit more of a sound barrier. Since the most difficult area to cover will be the ceiling, start there. Be very careful when doing this and use a step-stool or ladder rather than a chair whenever possible.

Once you’ve hung all your foam, you may decide the room needs something else to make it a more calming environment. Lightly scented candles or incense will help create a sense of peace. Just be sure to keep all flame and heat away from the foam, as it is extremely flammable. You can also bring music in if you have something on which to play it. Most people just plug some headphones into their mobile device and listen to tunes, but sometimes you just don’t feel like having those buds stuck in your ears. A computer or a small boom box can help or simply play the music through your mobile device’s speakers.

Bring in anything else that you know helps you relax and unwind. Perhaps a favorite book or a game, or even a journal to vent your daily frustrations. Your sanctuary should not only be a quiet place, but reflect your personality as well.

3. Write Them A Note 

If you’ve spoken to your neighbor about how you just can’t get past their dog howling every morning between two and three and they haven’t done anything, it’s time to leave them a note. Not a nasty one, but putting something in writing evokes a sense of seriousness that’s difficult to ignore. The words are right there in front of you, staring at you, reminding you that something needs to be done. Try not to sound pretentious and end it with a smiley face for good measure.

4. Keep Unwelcome Odors Out 

Remember that description I mentioned earlier about how when you walk through the main door, you’re nasally assaulted by a mishmash of unpleasant cooking foulness? That wasn’t an exaggeration, and it’s something you will encounter. It’s probably not just cooking odors; maybe some of your neighbors are just downright smelly people because they let their sweaty laundry pile up in their own tiny space, or they don’t take their trash out on a regular basis, so there’s a mixture of sour milk and rotting meat smell that permeates the entire hallway whenever they open their door. Some landlords do the classy thing and provide plug-in air fresheners for all common areas, and then again some don’t. You could go stench vigilante and purchase a plug-in freshener for the hallway, but you run the risk of ticking people off, including the landlord. There’s always a possibility that someone has an allergy to them or is otherwise sensitive to them. The best thing to do for common areas is ask the landlord to put one in, or if it would be okay with them if you do. This way, if it disappears shortly after it goes in, you’ll know it wasn’t the landlord who took it out and you won’t get in trouble when you feel the need to replace it.

When these nasty stinks waft into your abode it can seem like an all out invasion. There are several ways you can battle the smell. The short list is incense, scented candles, cone air fresheners, plug-ins and wax warmers. Incense is fantastic because the smell lingers longer than some other deodorizers, but if you’re sensitive to smoke, you may not want to go this route. Scented candles are great due to the fact you can make your place smell like everything from the ocean to apple strudel. They do create quite a bit of extra heat, though, and if you forget to blow them out, the result is potentially hazardous. Cone air fresheners are those things that you sort of twist open at the bottom, pull the top part of the cone up just a bit and expose a scented waxy substance that slowly evaporates over time. They last a month or more, depending on how far you open it, but if you don’t splurge on the slightly more expensive ones, they don’t make too much of a difference in the way of fighting odor. Plug-ins are nice because you only have to change them once a month or so, and the warmth from the electricity makes the scent more potent. If you go this route though, do your best to sniff-test the scents you choose beforehand because if it turns out to be a smell that gives you a migraine, it’s difficult to air out, and you might be stuck with it for a while. Lastly, my personal favorite, wax warmers. They’re my favorite because they’re classy, even a single wax cube seems to last forever, and after buying the warmer itself, it’s the absolute cheapest method to maintain. It used to be that you could only buy warmers that used tealight candles to melt the wax on the tray above, but someone came up with a novel idea and created an electric version with a light bulb taking the place of the tealight. No more fire, no more replacing candles every week; it was perfect. It tends to overpower any nasty odor around, and just one of them will make your place smell like heaven.

5. Have A Chat With Your Landlord 

So, let’s say that all your calm civility hasn’t yielded any results. The toddler upstairs has bounced your egg crate off the ceiling or the people next door have a ritual where they scream at each other until midnight and nothing has kept the noise out. This is when you go talk to your landlord. Tell them what’s been going on, include what you’ve done to deal, and ask if you can file a formal, anonymous complaint. The landlord will then inform your neighbor in writing that they are in violation of their lease agreement by being too noisy and they should consider themselves warned. If they haven’t changed their tune within thirty days, you can make another complaint, and then the landlord will either make them move to another apartment or evict them altogether.

6. If All Else Fails, Call The Police 

Perhaps your landlord didn’t take you seriously when you complained and didn’t do their job. Maybe the landlord can’t legally evict the neighbor for some odd reason. Whatever the case may be, you have a legal right to live in a peaceful, safe home. By calling the police, you will be able to make a report and they will then handle the neighbor, whether it’s by arrest or a fine. Try to use this as a last resort, but only so long as your health and safety haven’t been compromised in any way prior. If anyone threatens or harasses you, the police should be called immediately.

At the end of the day, it’s all about being comfortable where you’re living. You may or may not live there forever, but for however long you’re there, you definitely want to make the best of it. WikiHow also has a cool, illustrated article on how to handle crappy neighbors. For the absolute best information and advice on apartment living, feel free to contact us here, and be sure to share this with your friends and classmates, then comment below with your own advice and horror stories. It’s entirely possible that someone you know has had a neighbor from hell and knows exactly how to handle them. Find out by sharing and starting a conversation in the comment section below.

1 Response

  1. March 21, 2017

    […] always to talk to your neighbors politely. Don’t escalate the situation by screaming at your neighbors, as many incidents are caused simply by their ignorance of how audible they are to everyone […]

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