How to Find Your Zen In A Noisy Apartment Building

Without throttling a single neighbor.

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If you’ve got noisy neighbors who make this hilarious video seem like child’s play, you know that living with a daily aural nuisance (or ten) can be like death by 1000 paper cuts. Noise every once in a while = ok. Noise you can count on every day and come to dread = not ok.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t know that you have a noisy neighbor until it’s too late. Once the lease is signed and the moving vans have pulled away, you’re kind of committed. And hey — your living situation might be PERfect, other than the aspiring opera singer living next door.

There are a number of ways to handle this problem, and none of them involve waging a Noise War — “oh yeah? you think THAT’s loud? Try this!” — That’s one tactic we do not recommend, as it is simply not sustainable. Ear drums do have limits.

Instead, here are some suggestions for making your apartment feel like a private, personal oasis on the cheap(ish).

  • Invest in a few rugs. You can even put them on walls for functional decoration! Not only will this help absorb some of the annoying noises, but you’ll also be making yourself a better neighbor to those living below you.
  • Think about furniture placement. This might sound obvious, but it’s worth stating. If you’re able to arrange your apartment such that the places you most want peace and quiet (your bed or your desk, for instance) have more of a “buffer zone” around them, you’re more likely to succeed in blocking out the noise.
  • White noise machines will help with noise-masking, too. While you can’t expect white noise to actually drown out all of the annoying sounds, it functions by creating a blanket of soothing sound which then fades into the background — and that’s often enough to keep your brain from focusing on the nuisance noises, so they’re just less disturbing.
  • At the slightly pricier end of the spectrum, if street noise is your primary challenge, consider window inserts. Bonus: these also help with heating and cooling if your building has leaky windows.

Please note: these tips are especially great for introverts, as not one of them requires initiating an uncomfortable conversation with a virtual stranger. If you’re feeling bold, however, you could also try addressing the problem head-on. If that’s your move, we recommend the “empathy” approach, as outlined in this article. Good luck!


Originally published at blog.marpac.com.

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