By Bryn Huntpalmer
When it comes to neighbors, it can be tempting to take an anti-social approach. After a long hard day at work, the last thing you probably want to do is make idle chit chat with someone you barely know, just because they happen to be walking their dog at the same time as you. Getting to know your neighbors though, especially in an apartment, can make your life a lot easier.
If your neighbors are blasting their music when you have an early morning meeting, you can politely ask them to take it down a notch. Having a good rapport with your neighbors makes all kinds of seemingly awkward conversations go much more smoothly. Also, having open communication with your neighbors can keep you safer. Neighbors that have a good relationship tend to look out for each other and notice small things like when a package is sitting on your front door step for a long time, or that you’ve left your keys in the door. Here are five fun ways to get to know your neighbors.
Utilize The Clubhouse
Apartment complexes have really stepped up their game when it comes to clubhouses. Many clubhouses now have wifi, a business center, flat screen tv’s with premium cable, as well as pool tables and space for other games like Jenga, Taboo, Scrabble, you name it. Even though you are paying for this amenity with your rent payment, these spaces tend to go under utilized.
Knock on some doors and invite your neighbors to play some pool one evening after work. If you’re feeling a little shy, hang up some flyers in common areas like the mailroom, gym, laundry room, and elevators (you may want to ask permission first) encouraging neighbors to come out for a meet and greet. Add some pizzas and drinks to the mix and I bet you’ll get a good turnout.
Never Underestimate the Power of Baked Goods
I grew up in a household where we actively avoided the neighbors. My parents had been recruited for way too many tupperware, jewelry, and “investment opportunity” gatherings when we were young, so we were well trained to avoid even making eye contact with the neighbors.
When I moved into my first place on my own, my neighbor made a few attempts at starting conversations in our shared driveway. I kindly rebuffed them all. One day though she knocked on the door with a plate of cookies. She said, “I just made some cookies from scratch and I have way too many. Do you want some?” I took one to be polite and closed the door. Then I bit into the cookie–the best cookie I have ever had in my life. I grabbed a bottle of wine, knocked on her door and said, “Can I have one more of those?” We became fast friends.
Organize a Community Rummage Sale
If you live in an apartment, chances are that you struggle with storage. Just because you may not have a garage or a driveway doesn’t mean that you can’t host a rummage sale. Work with your property manager on the details, but what better way to get to know your neighbors than by walking around in a casual environment and going through their stuff! You know you want to. I’m sure countless friendships have been formed simply by going through someone’s cd collection (that is, if you are old enough to know what a cd is!).
Celebrate a Weird Holiday
Did you know that National Corndog Day is on March 21st? If you sign up to host a National Corndog Day (NCD) party, the NCD will send you massive amount of corndogs, for free! Who doesn’t love a corndog? Put up some flyers, purchase some condiments, and you’ve got yourself a party. A word of caution though, you may meet a ton of new friends, but you will forever be known as, “that corndog guy.” Find all other sorts of strange holidays, just ripe for celebration here.
Start a Lending Library
It’s much easier to start a conversation with someone if you have something in common. Work with your property manager to set up a small lending library. Share some of your favorite books and see who else checks them out by placing old school library check out slips in the back. Read a book that you’ve never heard of before. If you love it, find out who donated it and compliment them on the great recommendation!
These are just a few ideas to get you started, but don’t forget, friendly smiles and hello’s are always the simplest way to welcome conversation from a potential new friend.
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize and nurtures her HGTV obsession.