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Apartment Etiquette: A Guide for Those Accustomed to Living in a House

Updated on July 19, 2011

Congratulations on your first apartment! Whether you are just moving out of your parents' house or you are a family downsizing, finding an apartment that is right for you is a struggle and you should be commended on making it through the process! As you may have thought, apartment life is very different from living in a house. There are many unspoken rules that your new neighbors may expect you to observe. This guide will help you to understand these rules in order to make your new apartment a little bit more of a home!

It's a long way for a TV to travel
It's a long way for a TV to travel | Source

Outside of the Apartment

One of the areas that some new tenants might forget about, is the area outside of their apartment door. This area is a public area, and it belongs to everyone in the building. Whether it is indoors or an open walkway, it is important to keep some things in mind.

Keep Decorations Simple
When living at a house, outside decorations can be very important to the owner. While most apartment complexes have their own set of rules that can be referenced when decorating, here are some common apartment etiquette faux pas to be sure to avoid.

Yes: Putting a small decoration on the floor outside of your door (NOTE: If your apartment is not secure, or is in an area where the decoration might be stolen or damaged, it is perfectly acceptable to leave it inside!)
No: Putting enough lawn gnomes, pink flamingos, or concrete geese to be considered a small decorative society. This is especially true if you do not have grass outside of your door.

Yes: A small wreath or a few Christmas lights to celebrate the holidays.
No: So many Christmas lights, inflatable Santas, and light-up reindeer that your entire building can be seen from 4 counties away.

Yes: A standard sized doormat with a typical, cute, or otherwise non-offensive saying or picture
No: An artificial grass rug, tiki torches, or a doormat with words or pictures that would make your grandmother grab you by the ear.

The Parking Lot
Unlike most homes, apartment buildings do not typically have driveways. Some might have parking spaces that can be bought for an extra fee, however most residents will park in a public lot or on the street in front of the building. Please keep the following tips in mind when parking at the apartment building.

Yes: When company comes to visit, they park out of the way of normal residents, even if it is a little bit more of a walk.
No: You have a large number of visitors coming to your family reunion, game night, or party, so they take all parking spots available within a two mile radius.

Yes: A spot nearby the apartment is not readily available, so you park a little farther away, and move your car in the morning.
No: A spot nearby the apartment is not readily available, so you park on the lawn.

Yes: You drive a very large vehicle, so you make sure there is enough room to park. If there is not a space big enough, you park on the street or in another reasonable spot.
No: You drive a very large vehicle, so you take up three parking spaces for good measure.

Enjoying Your Deck or Patio
The deck or patio of your apartment can be a great place to sit and relax, however, if apartment etiquette is not followed, this experience can be ruined! The following rules will help to make sure that you do not ruin your neighbors' deck experience!

Yes: Smoking outside and keeping a container for the cigarette ashes and butts.
No: Throwing the cigarette butts off the balcony and seeing how many holes you can burn in the downstairs neighbor's canvas chair before he notices.

Yes: Keeping some plants outside where they can get fresh air and sunlight.
No: Spilling the soil from the plant containers and sweeping it between the cracks of your deck, hoping no one will notice.

Yes: Waving to a family member, friend, or neighbor as they walk by.
No: Throwing the television over the balcony and yelling obscenities at an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend as they walk by.

There's a time and a place for everything. For hanging pictures, that time is not 3 am.
There's a time and a place for everything. For hanging pictures, that time is not 3 am. | Source

In Your Apartment

For the most part, the actual living inside of an apartment is similar to living in a house. There are only a few key differences to keep in mind.

Noise Levels
Apartments are not well known for their soundproofing qualities. While most normal conversation and activities will not bother neighbors, there are some that will drive them crazy!

Yes: Playing video games in your apartment.
No: Playing video games in your apartment over a surround sound system turned up to "Real Life Warzone" levels, complete with ground shaking ability.

Yes: Walking.
No: Bringing your foot to shoulder level and stomping it as hard as you can on the floor with every step.

Yes: Decorating your apartment by hanging pictures.
No: Decorating your apartment by hanging pictures at 3 am.

Yes: Owning a dog (in a pet friendly apartment complex!).
No: Owning a dog that howls for 8 hours every time you go to work.

General Rules

There are some things that could have been done at home, that just should not be done in an apartment setting. These activities include:
-Cat collecting
-Sitting in front of your door and threatening people that walk by
-Holding up traffic on the stairs for a slinky race tournament
-Sliding down stairwell handrails


Living in an apartment can be a great experience as long as common courtesy and etiquette are applied. Following these rules will help you adjust to your new home, and certainly help you form neighborly bonds with the people you share your building with!


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    • Markjr profile image


      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      I can honestly say I've never had a neighbors kid come into my old apartments! Hahaha


    • nikki_m profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Kansas City, Missouri

      Thanks for reading! I've often thought about printing this out and hanging it around the apartment complex I currently live in as most of these are based off of real experiences here. Although I would need to add a couple, such as not going potty in the garbage can in the laundry room and making sure your kids know what apartment number they live in so they don't barge into your neighbor's on accident!

    • Markjr profile image


      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      This is a great Hub, I've lived in many apartments. I live in a house now and let me just say that if this was printed out and handed to people that would have made things so much easier in apartments!


    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Oh man this is a fabulous hub. I want to print it and distribute throughout my apartment complex lol These are common sense courtesies but some that I didn't even think about. Thanks for sharing, and making me laugh a little. Voted up and funny

    • nikki_m profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Kansas City, Missouri

      ThelmaC, Thank you for stopping by and for the nice feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Nikki I enjoyed your hub very much. I voted it "funny". Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!


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