There’s nothing worse than living in a big, urban, city — and having neighbors in the same building who don’t know how to effectively live together under the same roof — and abide the very real, but often unrefined, rules of apartment dwelling.

And so, for the great unwashed among us, here are some simple rules for getting along with your apartment/condo/co-op neighbors…

1.  Do Not Buzzer Mash:  If you forget your keys, don’t ring every other bell in the building hoping someone will just buzz you in — and never tell your friends to doorbell mash, either.  It makes people hate you.

1a:  Where Does it Go? Why ring ten doorbells when you don’t know where they end?  Why push a button when you have no clue where the signal goes?  Do not willfully and knowingly annoy others with your ignorance.

2.  Quiet Pets:  If you have a pet — the trick to not being the center of loathing in the building is picking up after your pet and keeping your pet quiet during the day when you are not at home.

3.  Stay Off the Fire Escape:  The First Escape is not your balcony.  The Fire Escape is not your laundry line.  The Fire Escape is not there so you can pull down the ladder and clamber up into your apartment because you lost your key.

4.  The Sound of Mush:  If we can hear your music in the hallway, it is too loud.  Turn it down or, better yet, turn it off.  Yes, the bass really does travel — really well.  We thank you.

5.  Do Not Bang the Drum Slowly:  If you live in an apartment with a wooden substructure, that means your floor is someone else’s ceiling — and when you walk on the heels of your feet, you are “banging a drum” against those below you.  Walk quietly.  Walk with dignity.  Tread with mighty consideration for others around you.

6.  Throw Away Your Garbage:  The hallway is not your storage area even for a minute or two.  Don’t leave bags of garbage in the hallway that you will “eventually” decide to later take outside to the trash bin.  Keep your mess, and your stank, behind closed doors.

7.  Do Not Deliver:  Be responsible for your own deliveries.  Don’t ask neighbors to sign for your packages when you are never home to sign for their deliveries.  If you must have a signature, ask the Super to sign for you.  That’s why the building as a Super — to help you out and to fix things.  A Super’s free rent and utilities have come with a high price tag and that includes signing for your multiplicity of boxes every day.

8.  Knock Three Times:  If you visit a neighbor — or need help — knock three times only.  Don’t knock once.  Don’t knock ten times with a ten second pause between each set of knocking.  Everyone can hear three knocks.  If you “know they’re home” and they don’t answer the door after three knocks, they still won’t answer after a hundred knocks — so save your knuckle skin and give up after three.  You can’t force people to answer the door by the will of your knocking.

9.  No Tap Dancing:  See #5 above.

10.  No Stowaways:  See #3 and above — plus… the hallway is a common area that must be kept clean and clear.  Do not stow your bicycle in the hallway.  Do not store boxes in the hallway.  Do not put anything in the hallway that belongs in your apartment.  If your stuff doesn’t fit in your apartment, then put it on the street to be thrown away.  Hallway storage is an urban myth.  It doesn’t exist.  One day your junque in the hallway will magically disappear.  The building will applaud in unison.

BONUS RULE:  Never speak in a fake, British, accent to give you an air of superior authority.  We see right through you — even though you say you were born in England.

We hope you enjoyed these — “10 Rules for Urban Dwelling” — and please let us know what we missed by adding your own, necessary, rules.

We thank you!


  1. Great rules, David. Here’s another rule : if I have to turn up my tv because I can clearly hear and identify what you are watching based on the sound, you’re doing it wrong.

    1. Love that rule, Gordon! It always fascinates me how unaware people are when it comes to their own behavior. They can complain about the barking dog down the hall, but they are oblivious to their shaking of their own surround sound!

  2. What about a real British accent? My fake British accent is awful I like to stick with my real Brit accent.

    My pet peeve is when people hear I am British (no not Australian, a New Zealander or Bostonian thank you) they do that fake accent that they think is British, “Pip pip cheerio,” I’ve never heard someone from England say that.

    Also, along the lines of Gordon’s, if you have watch TV at one in the morning, keep it down, some of us have to sleep and get up in a few hours for work.

    As for parcels, our manager no longer signs for them and keeps them in his office for later pick-up. He got fed up of people hammering on his door at all hours demanding their packages. The mailman leaves a card and you re-schedule delivery or pick it up yourself. The impatient, belligerent few ruin it for everyone else.

    1. Mik!

      Love your new Gravatar! It’s super Expressionistic!

      I’m sorry to tell you that a British accent — authentic or faked — is “so 1980’s” and hackneyed (notice I didn’t say “Cockney’d”) and we would prefer you used a South African accent because it’s very “World Cuppish” and a bit more modernly international. Heh!

      I’m with you on the crazy hours people keep. Most people work 9-5 — but some don’t — so keep it quiet at all times out of a blanket respect for the entire building. There’s no “free time” to let loose with loud music and partying because someone, somewhere, in the building is trying to sleep.

      I live on the first floor in our building, so EVERYONE — EVEN PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING! — think I am the Super. I get constant rings for parcels and access to the basement for meter readings. It is maddening. Never again!

      Accepting deliveries is an important job in the Big City apartment dwelling — and some Supers will not accept packages, but if you tip them yearly, they will make an exception for you — that’s why it’s always a good thing to try to live in a building with a doorman. Their main job is accepting, and protecting, all deliveries. Much simpler all around.

      1. I’m busy practicing my Afrikaans accent. Thank you for not saying Cockney’d, I’m from South East England but 30 miles north of London.

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