How to Talk to Your Neighbors and Other Essential Advice for Renters

Eveything you need to know about dealing with a new domecile


Looking for a new home can be like looking for love on the Internet: slightly scary and possibly deceptive. Just as athletic may mean big-boned on eHarmony, there are code words every renter should know. Here’s a handy translation guide:

The ad says: “Cozy”
The ad means: Tiny
Hope you have a full-size mattress, not a queen, because this little unit makes a shoe box look roomy.

The ad says: “Charming”
The ad means: Old
This is not all bad. Units built before 1940 tend to have thicker walls, so you won’t hear your neighbors as much. But if you need air-conditioning, you may be out of luck.

The ad says: “Light, bright, and airy”
The ad means: Drafty
Or worse! Until you invest in $2,500 worth of draperies, the world will be able to see you padding around in your jammies. Floor-to-ceiling windows are great. So is privacy.


After a move, many of us feel pressure to hurry and unpack every box. But Robin Meyer, the owner of Oh Dear Robin, a professional organizing service in South Pasadena, says we should slow down. Instead of putting things where we’ve always put them (or where our mother put them), she suggests spending time examining how we plan to move through our home. “It may feel like an eternity, but take a moment to connect to your own logic. How do you use this item? Why do you use it? When?” she says. “If we don’t allow ourselves the time to consider that, we’re going to have a life full of annoyances. You’ll gain time—and calm—in the long run.” Meyer’s approach to domestic harmony is less about throwing things away (think: Marie Kondo) and more about clarifying each item’s importance. That gravy boat? It can go in the back of the cupboard. And because we use something daily, such as the coffee grinder, doesn’t justify leaving it on the counter. “If you structure the space right,” Meyer says, “you can even have a place for your toothpaste.” Oh Dear Robin, 310-869-6688.


You: “Next time your BF showers here, could you ask him not to use my towel?”
Them: “You don’t like the way he smells?”
You: “He smells like a fairy tale, but sharing terry is gross. Just buy him one of his own.”

You: “Hey, 207! I baked cookies. This extra batch is for you.”
Them: “What?! 206, you’re so thoughtful.”
You: “My pleasure. Also, I’m having 100 friends over tonight. And a live band.”
Them (chewing): “No problem. Have fun!”

You: “I’m sorry my rent check is overdue. I’ve included the $50 late fee because I take responsibility for my actions.”
Them: “Gosh. Owning up to your own mistakes is so impressive. I’ll waive the fee.”
You: “Thank you. Won’t happen again.”