The apartment search is often about the location, the view, the amenities. But consider, too, that your new neighbors, the doorman, and the others in the immediate area will shape your experience of living in the apartment. Wondering how to imbue those relationships with positive feelings?  Domu asked Leontina Richardson, the Chicago owner of Stepping Into Etiquette, for her top etiquette tips for apartment dwellers: 

  1. Introduce yourself to your neighbors—but don’t knock on their doors. Leave an upbeat note or introduce yourself when you see your neighbors in the hallway or outside of the building. You might provide your contact information in case of an emergency, or to ask that they contact you if your music is too loud. Whatever you do, don’t knock on the door because it is too intrusive.
  2. The silences in the elevator need not be awkward. “You can never go wrong with a simple smile and hello,” suggests Leontina. “If it’s someone that you’ve met several times before, it would be definitely appropriate to spark a short conversation. Keep the conversation light; you can never go wrong with bringing up the weather—especially in Chicago where it’s 68 degrees in February!”
  3. How do I make friends in my apartment building? If you are sitting by the pool and you see a group of people, just smile and introduce yourself. Life is short, be BOLD! Always remember, a smile goes a very long way.
  4. Do not send aggressive letters, even to your very noisy neighbor. If the noise is a rare annoyance, like the occasional party, try to not to fuss too much about it. But if it is an ongoing problem, talk to your neighbor face-to-face. Do not send an aggressive letter. If you aren’t comfortable addressing the neighbor directly, then try the landlord or building manager.
  5. Tipping the doorman. You should tip the doorman, but only during the holidays. There is no unwritten rule about the amount of the tip. Consider the size of the building, the number of doormen on staff, and your budget. It is not mandatory to tip, but you will be in the minority if you don’t tip, and it could be seen as bad etiquette.
  6. My ex lives in my building. Help! If you live in the same building as your ex, you should always be cordial – even if the split was not amicable. Let’s face it, living in the same building as your ex is already awkward, so make the situation less awkward by being normal. If you find yourself in the elevator with your ex and his or her new mate, say hello to both of them. The number one thing that you should never do is to talk badly about your ex to other tenants in the building. That’s very childish and would be a bad reflection of you and your character.