At ABODO, we’re committed to helping you find the perfect apartment. But we also care about what happens once you’ve moved in. We started Dear ABODO to help you navigate the renter life, from rental agreements to roommates. Each week, we’ll answer a new user-submitted question.
Got one? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s question comes from a renter in Columbus, OH.
I’ve been renting my new place for about six months. It’s great: affordable, in a neighborhood I like, with a nice landlord. But there’s one problem: my neighbor. She’s so nosy! Our building has a shared entryway where the mailboxes are, along with a building bulletin board. My neighbor lingers there waiting for people to come in, and then talks their ears off. She asks me about my mail — who sent me letters, what’s in my packages, etc. Then she follows me back up the stairs to our shared floor, asking me questions about myself as I’m unlocking the door to my apartment.
Her questions are pretty innocuous: where I’m from, if I have siblings, what I do for work. But recently she’s started asking me about my personal life. Do I live alone? Do I have a boyfriend? Do I want kids? I don’t ask her questions like this in return, but she doesn’t get the hint, and she always remembers what I tell her. I’m started to get weirded out by how much she knows about me, and I can’t shake the feeling that she lives with her ear pressed to our shared wall to hear what I’m up to.
It’s creepy, and I want her to back off. But I also have to live next to this person, and I don’t want to make it awkward. What should I do?
Neighbors Ought to Stay Yonder
Your neighbor sounds lonely. If she’s hanging out around common areas in your building, you’re probably not the only person she’s following around. You don’t mention her circumstances — is she older? Does she live alone? Does she not get out much? At any rate, she seems starved for human contact, and you’re doing the right thing — the neighborly thing — by engaging with her.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to become friends, or that you have to reveal anything about your personal life to her. If she asks questions that you don’t want to answer, feel free to be evasive. If she pushes you, all you have to do is pleasantly tell her “I’d prefer not to talk about my private life.” Hints don’t seem to work on this person, so being polite and direct might be the way to go.
Obviously, it would be hard to prove that your neighbor is listening in on your apartment activities. If you do happen to catch your neighbor with her ear to your door, that might be a matter for your landlord or management company to look into. Otherwise, hearing — and being heard by — other tenants is just a fact of communal living. As is, for that matter, a chatty neighbor. Do your best to be cordial, and don’t let one nosy neighbor ruin your life.
–Claire @ ABODO