In the suburbs, neighbors are civilized to one another. They bring each other casseroles, pleasantly greet one another as they leave for work and chit-chat as they mow their lawns. OK, I might be generalizing, but outside of the city, neighbors tend to exhibit mutual respect and camaraderie. NYC neighbors, on the contrary, often become mortal enemies. Whether it’s noise or mess or general rudeness, something about living in close quarters in this city brings out the worst in people.
Here are four common neighbor character types you might encounter in NYC and how to deal with them:
NYC Neighbor Type #1: The Nag
The Nag is always knocking on your door when you have people over, asking you to turn down the music. They complain of strange smells, find fault with you leaving your shoes in the hall, and seem to have Spidey-sense hearing when it comes to your “loud” footsteps after 8 pm. The Nag can slowly, but surely cast a dark cloud of contempt over your otherwise cheery abode.
How to Deal With The Nag
The Nag may make you feel defensive, incredulous and even defiant, but the best thing to do is kill them with kindness. When you’re planning to have company, politely inform them of the times you will be playing music. You can even take it one step further and invite them to the party! Most nags are just bitter because they don’t have a fun life of their own. As for the little things like shoes and smells, pick your battles. If they’re minor grievances that you can adjust, it’s sometimes better to just suck it up and do it. With bigger issues, find a way to stand your ground while still being polite.
NYC Neighbor Type #2: The Party Animal
It’s one thing to have company on the weekends and throw a rambunctious rager here and there, but sometimes neighbors can really cross the line. For example, I once had a neighbor who thought it was acceptable to sing loud renditions of Adele until 4 am on a Wednesday night (into a microphone no less!!!). If you find yourself waking up with your bedroom walls vibrating from your neighbor’s EDM parties more nights than not, you need to intervene.
How to Deal With The Party Animal
There are three levels of intervention to deal with The Party Animal. First, start with the simple, straightforward approach of asking them to keep it down. Yes, they will probably label you as The Nag, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. If your requests are repeatedly ignored, take it to the next level by informing the landlord or super. In many cases, a stern lecture from management can make them change their ways. Finally, if all other tactics have failed and you’re still not getting any sleep, the next level is to file a noise complaint with 311. Keep in mind that the police sometimes take several hours to arrive, so earplugs may be necessary in the meantime.
NYC Neighbor Type #3: The Snob
This is the neighbor who thinks they’re too cool to give you so much as a polite nod in the elevator. You clearly see each other every day but they act like you’re a panhandler on the subway at rush hour. This dynamic can be infuriating and may leave you feeling like you’re back in middle school being ignored by the popular kids.
How to Deal With The Snob
First, take an objective look at the situation and ask yourself how you might be contributing to this awkward dynamic. Sometimes not saying hello one time can escalate into a vicious cycle where both parties think the other is being rude. If you suspect this could be the case, try saying “Hi” the next time you see this neighbor. If you’re still met with snobbery, it’s official that your neighbor is just a jerk. If this is the case, you’ll have to accept the fact that your apartment is not going to be the chummy “Friends” environment that you always envisioned it would be. This may be a sad realization. Mourn your loss and move on.
NYC Neighbor Type #4: The Chatty Cathy
In contrast to The Snob, The Chatty Kathy ALWAYS wants to talk. Your heart sinks when you see them leaving the building at the same time as you because your morning commute has just turned into a 30-minute gab-sesh all the way to work. You don’t want to be snobby, but c’mon, this is New York after all!
How to Deal With The Chatty Cathy
When you see this neighbor, quickly pretend you’re on the phone. Flash them an apologetic smile, motion to the phone and mime a talking signal with your free hand to indicate that the pretend person on the other end of the phone just won’t shut up. Alternately, if you know what time this neighbor tends to leave for work, adjust your schedule by 5 minutes to avoid crossing paths with them. These solutions may seem mean and antisocial, but sometimes this is the only way to secure a few minutes of peace at the start of your busy day.