How to create a thriving community in high density living buildings

A dense population doesn’t always mean a strong sense of community. Here’s how to increase connections within your building.

While some people shun the idea of apartment living because they don’t want to be in such close proximity to others, the reality is many apartment dwellers report they never even see the majority of their neighbours.

This may suit some people but others report a sense of isolation. They don’t feel as though they have a way to connect with those living around them.

The benefits of ‘community’ are widely understood to be far reaching. They can improve wellness and limit loneliness amongst those who live on their own. Having strong community connections allows people to support each other and share their knowledge and expertise.

It is more than possible to create a strong sense of community within an apartment building, while still allowing people to maintain their personal privacy.

Here are some ideas to get started:

Host a ‘street party’

An annual or more regular gathering is an age-old way for neighbours to get to know each other and apartment blocks need be no exception.

Invite residents to a weekend afternoon get-together and ask those who attend to bring a plate. Put on some music and enjoy the opportunity to get to know the residents. Make sure your party doesn’t breach any by-laws or you will have to give yourself a slap on the wrist!

Create a ‘library’

The so-called ‘share economy’ is rising, with consumers realising how much better it can be to rent, share or borrow than to buy.

Within your complex, you can encourage people to share books, tools, sports equipment or even vehicles (with correct terms and conditions in place). This can be done via an online platform or a simple ‘pay it forward’ area where people can leave books, toys or other items which are in good condition.

Communal workspaces

Men’s Sheds are a rising trend for communities and apartment blocks around Australia. This concept invites men (and anyone else who is interested) to get together in a workshop environment and tinker with carpentry or repairs. By sharing tools, tips and advice, Men’s Sheds are thought to improve the mental wellbeing of many men who live alone.

Depending on the type of building you manage, there are many ideas akin to Men’s Sheds which can bring people together.

This includes:

  • Communal vegetable patches

  • Beehives (many rooftops are becoming home to these important members of the ecosystem)

  • Knitting / quilting / craft groups / Scrabble club

  • Playgroup for small children and their parents

You can also invite residents to get out and about with a regular jogging or walking group.

Raise money

In your regular communications, encourage people to form a team for a local fun-run or similar charity event. Those who participate will be able to get to know each other and you can share photos and updates to encourage people to get involved with the next event.  

Social media groups

Social media can be a double-edged sword. As well as giving people a way to connect, it provides a platform for complaints and bickering!

As a strata manager or concierge, if you are setting up an official Facebook page or WhatsApp group for your complex, give it a clear purpose. It may be a buy/swap/sell page or it may be a place for people to ask for tips and advice about the building and the area. Establish clear guidelines and make it very clear complaints should be issued directly to those in charge of the building. This gives residents a better opportunity to use the group as a way to support each other.

If a social media group is out of the question, allow for a buy/swap/sell section in your regular newsletter as a way of allowing your residents to communicate with one another.

If people are able to get to know their neighbours and feel as though they are part of a community, the underlying psychology is they will be more respectful, both of each other and the common property. This will reduce building maintenance costs and diminish the likelihood of disputes which must be escalated to the tribunal.

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