I live in New York, a city full of dirt, crowdedness, and crime. But you know what most people complain about? Noise. Here are four things to think about when you’re looking for peace and quiet in the place you live.
1. You Might Not Discover Noise When You First See a Property
If you go to an open house on a Sunday afternoon, you won’t get the noise of the 7 a.m. garbage pickup, the Saturday night pub-crawlers, or the frustrated evening rush hour traffic horn-blaring. If you really like a place, try to go back to see it at a different time of day, and try to meet someone who lives in the building or neighborhood.
2. Sometimes Little Repetitious Noises Add Up and Drive You Crazy
I personally hate the loud bing of an elevator, so when I move into apartment buildings I make sure I’m at least one apartment away. But, when I tell this story to other people, many of them say, “Oh, I don’t even notice that.” So try to learn what noises you are sensitive to – if you hate low tones, watch out for rumbling air-conditioner compressors; if you hate high tones, watch out for smoke detectors that run low on batteries.
3. You Might Cause More Noise Than You Think
Many leases require a tenant to put down carpeting in a certain percentage of the living area (80% is standard in my market). But it’s still tough to know whether your neighbor can hear the bark of your dog or the bass of your stereo. I’ve found that the best defense is always a good offense—when you move in, knock on the door of the neighbor below you, and the neighbors to the side of you, and introduce yourself. Say something like, “Hi, I’m Gail, and I’m excited to be in this building. I’m pretty quiet, but let me know if you ever hear my TV.” And it’s good manners to invite your neighbors when you’re having a big party, or at least to warn them, so they don’t call the cops.
4. There Are Lots of Products Out There to Make Your Life Better
I personally love white noise, so I sometimes run a Marsona sound conditioning machine on Saturday nights, which is when I hear the city the most. (It works by producing soft noises that help cancel out outside loud noises, a little bit like running a mini air-conditioner would). A bit of weatherstripping under the front door of an apartment can sometimes cut out hallway noise, too. “City windows,” which are an extra set of windows installed inside your current windows, can run around $1,000 a window but provide strong insulation against the city’s hustle and bustle.
Best of luck and peaceful resting!