Close Quarters. When Neighbor Noise Takes Over Your Life.
By randamace on October 12, 2010
Recently, I wrote a witty tongue in cheek blog post about my crazy neighbor. While it was fun to take a moment to laugh about her antics, the post had a lot of serious issues in it about close quarter living. When strapped for cash or living in a high cost of living area, sometimes families find themselves renting apartments, townhomes, or multi-family homes. There can be major benefits to living in smaller quarters (like less to clean!) but there's a few very major drawbacks. Sometimes, the drawbacks can be so extreme, you may have to consider a move.
The person living in the unit above me is literally crazy. Not sure what the issue is, but the woman never sleeps and is very loud. I never hear her television, never hear her voice, never hear her radio... It's her footsteps, slamming of doors, and dropping of who-knows-what. (And she has power-tools and hammers that she uses at 2am) All night long you can hear stomping and slamming. Our floors are hardwood and there's nothing but subfloor separating levels in the complex. Thin floors or not, it's the worst noise I've ever heard. Even in a similar apartment in another building (now being renovated for MOLD, yikes), we almost never heard footsteps from the family of FOUR living upstairs. Yet, this one woman literally keeps us awake all night long.
In the DC area, where we live, there are fewer and fewer affordable apartments. We're facing either a tremendously long waitlist or a significant increase in our rent. We have to move. I suffer from extreme fatigue and exhaustion. We all get headaches and wake up throughout the night. The building insists that as long as there's no TV or parties, there's no noise pollution. My son, who suffers from ADHD, has a very difficult time sleeping at my home. He doesn't live with me full-time, thank goodness. It's hard to hear how creeped out he gets when the person above us slams things around endlessly at 3am. One evening, I heard power tools being used in the room above ours. For five hours. Our affordable apartment stopped being a deal at that point.
So now, we are moving. Which is fine. Except it's going to break the bank. In the end, it came down to quality of life. No family wants to shell out nearly everything for a "cosmetic" move, but sometimes you have to for sanity's sake. If you are ever in the situation, I do recommend rallying neighborly support. While I haven't gotten my support (my neighbors just don't care), I think it's the best option. Approaching the person on your own almost never works. While I joke about leaving a passive -aggressive note in my blog (really, read it, it's kind of funny), I know that would only make matters worse. As far as talking to building management or a landlord, that can be extremely hit or miss, mostly miss. In every place I have lived, I understood that landlords have certain thresholds they look for when approaching a noise situation. Jogging about one's apartment at 3am does not meet that threshold. However, landlords can be very helpful if you have another tenant frequently partying late at night. I've seen evictions for this.
Neighbors really can make a difference in your family life, especially when children are involved. Whether it's making sure your neighbors are not sex offenders or checking out the noise level, it's important to be as informed as possible when deciding where to live. Not every renter will have the liberty to visit the apartment at night, but at least get yourself a 30-day move-in guarantee that if you do have a situation that's a deal breaker, you can get out.
Looking forward to restful nights and my son not waking up 4-5 times a night. :)
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