6 Things I’ll Never Do as a Neighbor (Because I Learned the Hard Way)

published Dec 2, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Over the past decade, I’ve lived in six different apartment and condo buildings throughout Chicago’s north side. While that’s not exactly a record-breaking number of move-ins and move-outs, when it comes to living alongside good and bad neighbors, I’ve definitely schlepped around the block aplenty. And friends, I’ve got the emotional scars to prove it.

Clueless neighbors here and there are inevitable. If you’ve ever found yourself awake at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday screaming “Who lives like this!?” above the incessantly thumping bass of your EDM-loving downstairs neighbors, you’ve probably developed a reasonable standard of living that motivates you to be the change you wish to see in your apartment building. I know I’ve been there! Here are six careless, rude, and downright-frustrating bad-neighbor habits I’ve endured that I’ll never inflict upon my own neighbors.

Make a habit of letting the bass drop.

The year 2013 feels like forever ago — until I hear an unwanted bass drop and my fight or flight mechanisms activate. I was one year out of college, working full-time during the day and taking grad school classes at night. The last thing I needed was daily and nightly front row seats to the worst EDM shows my hundred-year-old Wrigleyville walk-up could provide. Studying for exams and punching out thesis papers was misery given the unpredictable party schedule of the second-floor fellows (who were, conveniently, buddies with the landlord. Deep sigh). Now when my husband and I play music, we keep the volume at a reasonable decibel, sans-bass. Sorry, Skrillex. 

Let my doggy bark through the night.

Full disclosure: I am the proud dog mom of a very chatty and opinionated corgi. I know all about barking. Among Rodeo’s many talents is shrieking at unsuspecting pedestrians from our front window. With that said: we aren’t just letting this dog scream around the clock. Dog owners sign up for the commotion that comes with pets, but neighbors don’t. In addition to working on Rodeo’s training, we eliminate stimuli that sets Rodeo off. While we don’t stifle every single one of our dog’s barks, when it comes to nighttime barking, we are ON TOP OF IT. Our neighbors aren’t losing sleep on Rodeo’s account — not on my watch! 

Allow a… pile of poop (?) to form.

I once lived above a pair of extremely self-involved college gals whose microscopic canines produced macro-quantities of waste. Whatever, dogs poop! But good neighbors actually pick up after their dogs and then follow through with disposing of their waste bags. Not these gals. Piles upon piles of bagged dog waste settled at the base of our entryway, earning us the highly coveted title of “the poop bag house.” Cool! There are so many reasons why this sucks, aside from the fact that you live above a small mountain of teacup breeds’ sh!t. But one word comes to mind: rats. Throw the poop out, pals! 

Credit: Anne Boonkerdthinthai/Getty Images

Make my neighbors touch my clothes.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a building with a communal laundry facility, saving you trips to and from the laundromat, you’ve probably run into neighbors who treat the room like their own private in-unit facility. However, when an entire building is sharing just three or four machines, there will be unavoidable lines and delays. One of the easiest ways to be a good neighbor is to stay on top of your own laundry (you know, because you’re an adult).

Of course, things happen… maybe the new parent completely forgot about the load in the dryer, or a household emergency took you out of the building for a couple hours (that has happened to me). But consistently leaving your laundry in the machines after the cycle ends is unacceptable. Don’t make your neighbors move your clothes for you. I repeat: do not make your neighbors touch your undies!

Clutter up my building’s common spaces.

I lived atop one particular three-unit walk-up for a miserable year. I didn’t mind walking up and down the three flights of creaky stairs to get in and out of my apartment. What I did mind were the piles of shoes that were always discarded on the second floor’s landing. Instead of safely lining shoes up outside their unit, our neighbors would just kick off their footwear and leave them for people to trip over. Aesthetically, it was not great; in terms of safety and well-being, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

Fail to give everybody a little grace.

Neighbor quality often comes down to the luck of the draw. For every crummy neighbor, I’ve been lucky to have two fabulous ones. Keep in mind, no one is perfect and Life Things pop up incessantly. For the most part, I truly believe we’re all trying our best. I’d rather be the neighbor who tries to make the campground a happier place than the one who’s always complaining about other tents. Before you get worked up over the stack of packages piling up, or the unraked leaves, or the irritatingly-whimsical wind chime, ask yourself if you can hold off before flagging the issue. We all deserve a break once in a while!