Apart­ment neigh­bours like ships in night

Is apart­ment liv­ing en­cour­ag­ing us to be a less neigh­bourly city? Ahead of Neigh­bours Day this week­end, re­porter Jess Lee speaks to apart­ment-dwellers to see if they are chat­ting with their neigh­bours over the bal­cony balustrades or if ‘‘so­cial fences’’ a

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Hun­dreds of peo­ple can live side-by-side in an apart­ment build­ing, pass each other in the cor­ri­dor and stand next to each other in the lift with­out ever know­ing each other’s names.

Laura Howard has lived in her apart­ment for 18 months and doesn’t know any of her neigh­bours well.

She lives with her hus­band Michael and their young daugh­ter Siena in a build­ing in Grey Lynn which houses a mix of fam­i­lies with young chil­dren, sin­gle pro­fes­sion­als and re­tirees.

‘‘It’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause even though you’re all liv­ing on top of each other in an apart­ment build­ing, in a lot of ways it’s such an in­di­vid­ual way of liv­ing,’’ Mrs Howard says.

‘‘But to be hon­est it’s prob­a­bly the same as neigh­bours in a hous­ing area – some peo­ple are smi­ley and friendly and some don’t make eye con­tact.’’

She has got to know more peo­ple since she stopped work­ing full­time to take care of Siena.

‘‘I would love to know my neigh­bours more – if I see them I do stop to have a lit­tle chat. It’s such a big build­ing though and there are a num- ber of en­trances so there are some peo­ple you just never see.’’


neigh­bourli- ness is sadly a thing of the past for most of us, she says.

‘‘I don’t think that’s been around for decades.

‘‘Peo­ple live such in­di­vid­ual lives and are so pri­vate. It would be nice if we could switch to be­ing a bit more friendly and community fo­cused.’’

But the couple has no plans to move their young fam­ily into a house.

‘‘I’m preg­nant with baby num­ber two and we’re re­ally happy stay­ing here,’’ Mrs Howard says.

One 62-year-old apart­ment res­i­dent, who asked not to be named, says her fel­low res­i­dents don’t stay in the build­ing very long.

She has lived in her Par­nell apart­ment for nine years.

‘‘It’s ba­si­cally like a hotelfeel­ing. Ob­vi­ously not as tran­sient as a ho­tel but they come and go all the time,’’ she says.

‘‘The ra­tio of owne­roc­cu­pied ver­sus in­vest­ment apart­ments on my floor is two to nine.’’

She says she wouldn’t feel as com­fort­able ask­ing for a cup of sugar or for help with some­thing as she would she lived in a house.

‘‘If I can’t reach a light­bulb to change it, I have to pay for some­one to do it for me.

‘‘The build­ing man­ager is so good but I wouldn’t want to bother them for some­thing like that.’’

The build­ing holds a pool party each year which is a great place to meet the neigh­bours, she says.

‘‘I do miss lit­tle things like garage sales and feel­ing more part of a community, but I love the lo­ca­tion of where I live.

‘‘I wouldn’t change it – it’s easy liv­ing.’’


Soli­tary ex­pe­ri­ence: One apart­ment-dweller says res­i­dents don’t stay long enough in apart­ments to get to know their neigh­bours.

Knock knock: Laura Howard lives in an apart­ment in Grey Lynn with her hus­band and young daugh­ter and would like to know her neigh­bours bet­ter.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news. co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see video high­lights of last year’s Neigh­bour’s Day.

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