Being the new resident in an apartment building can feel like being the new kid in school sometimes. Everybody has advice for you—some really do intend to help you, while others are just trying to get you on their side regarding certain building disputes. There are the social units who get together on the weekends and barbecue, and the ones that stick to themselves. It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when you first move into an apartment building, and any time you’re overwhelmed, your guard goes down. Here are safety tips for when you’re the new resident in the building.
Gather information before giving any out
Everyone in the building knows a lot about one another already. But not you—you’re brand new to the environment and have a lot to learn about your neighbors. Be polite, but refrain from telling your neighbors too much about yourself (such as what you do and your income bracket) before you’ve gathered information about them. From there, you’ll know whom you feel comfortable opening up to.
Stay neutral with all of your neighbors
Try to stay neutral with all of your neighbors. If anyone tries to drag you into gossip about a neighbor, politely remove yourself from the conversation. When it comes to your apartment neighbors, it’s best to have everyone feel neutral towards you, than to have some neighbors love you and some disdain you.
Wait to order large, expensive items
Don’t order large, expensive items until you’ve lived in the building for a few months. It’s important to know about porch theft in the area, or if there have been burglars posing as delivery personnel. Just get a good lay of the land when it comes to security before having giant pieces of art and furniture delivered to your front door.
Hold off on using communal storage areas
While the building may have a storage closet for tools or bicycles, hold off on using these until you’ve determined how secure they are. It’s possible that residents leave these unlocked often, or that people break into them.
Ask your neighbors about local crime
Ask your neighbors about local crime, or if there is anything you should look out for in the neighborhood, like burglars posing as door-to-door salespeople, or thieves taking packages off of porches. The long-time residents can be your greatest resource for information on these issues.
Cover your balcony, but still make it inviting
If you have a balcony—particularly on the ground floor or with a very close neighboring balcony—cover it up for privacy. You don’t have to put up cement walls since this gives your neighbors the wrong impression. But consider adding an awning or some bamboo to conceal your balcony better.
Don’t join any alliances
Avoid neighbors trying to form alliances. Neighbors aren’t all neighborly all of the time. You may find that a couple of units are trying to get one unit evicted, and hoping you’ll join their side. It’s best not to get caught up in these disputes so you don’t make any enemies.
Refrain from accepting packages for others
If a neighbor asks you to accept a package for him, politely decline for now. You can simply say you won’t be home or aren’t comfortable doing that. You don’t know how this neighbor might react if the package is lost or stolen. So don’t help with these types of favors until you know your neighbor’s personalities a bit better.
Don’t buzz anyone in that you don’t know
No matter how long you’ve lived in a building, you shouldn’t buzz people in who you don’t know. But it’s especially important to be diligent about closing the gate or lobby door, and not letting in strangers when you’ve first moved in. Burglars may notice that you’re new, and try to take advantage of your naiveté to get in.
Moving into a new building is exciting, but it also puts you at a disadvantage because you’re the one person who isn’t yet familiar with your neighbors, the surroundings, and the happenings. Be extra cautious until you get to know your neighbors better.