Let’s face it: the minute your neighbor starts up with that noise, custom made by Satan for your bespoke torture, you seek relief. Sometimes apartments suck – loud neighbors can make your life a living hell. Or can they? Let’s look into some perspectives and action steps which might have you loving your spot.
[20230924-This post is a major update to the original to reflect the best ideas more clearly.]
Loud Neighbors Control Me!
Read that title again, maybe out loud this time. “Neighbors control me.” Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? That’s because nobody controls you but you. What I’ve learned and have been practicing is you are choosing whatever emotion you have. You might be doing it semi-consciously, maybe unconsciously but this is important to see. By no means must you take this at my word – look! Watch how your emotions come up. Try choosing peace. Until you do that, nothing I write here will help. Ironically, at the point you probably won’t need this article either. But, by all means, proceed with me here.
I’m going to cover actions you can take and a little bit of mindset. Of course, what you may really want is the nuclear codes to launch at apartment #(*^&@ – but hang on! Before we’re through, I’ll mention a few things you can expect from your favorite neighbor and why, really, this is a road into a much bigger issue. So read the whole thing before you’re through melting down 🙂
Lead The Way
The quicker you shift from victim to leader, the quicker this will resolve. No – I’m absolutely not victim-shaming. What I’m saying is that there’s a lot more energy in accountability than passive negative acceptance. From today, you’re going to have a number of techniques and ideas which have helped me resolve noise issues.
AAAAAhhhHHHH!! There. You screamed: feel better? Not really, right? Now you have a sore throat and sound like you’re 100 years old. Next time try talking. Screaming, talking: what’s the difference? Well, they’re very different.
Ethan Winer said, “Never assume someone is trolling. Respond to content, not tone.” I never asked him where he got it – he’s not smart enough to think of it on his own (lol I’m teasing, Ethan is a genius). Still, just because you and I know that doesn’t mean anyone else does – or cares! Yes, as my grandma told me “1000 times”, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it,” (emphasis hers). Ok, don’t scream at people. We’re on the same page.
With your newfound calming and hypnotic voice at your disposal, I want you to talk to your neighbor. Not the one currently driving you mad but the next one. Next time you move somewhere, introduce yourself and open up a contact line. This will make any future disputes much easier to navigate. Think: what if you had done that with this person that’s “upsetting you”? Would have been good to have, right? Next time!
Communication is everything. The better you can communicate your wants and needs, without being demanding or expecting perfection, the better your life is going to get.
Loud Neighbors Reflect
You make noise too, you know. For future reference, if you use a PC or Mac to play music, you can use filtering software (or even a DAW) to high pass your music up to about 200Hz. This is what I do most of the time and I don’t get noise complaints. In the event you use something without a filter but you have a subwoofer then simply turn that off once it’s quiet hours.
Hey, Beavis: Noise Rules
Do you even have a case to make against these party animals? Are they simply marginally below the regulations set forth by your community? This is important info to know! It’s very possible you’re extra in the sensitivity department – not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, you need to know who’s at fault before establishing blame. If they’re legal then you need to chill or start negotiating. In the event they’re exceeding the defined limits in your area then you now have a choice to make: talk to them, tell the landlord, move, or live with it.
Collision or Coincident?
What’s the track record like between you two? I might be assuming to think it’s been negative. In that case, I’d jump straight to recording things with a note app or camera and send that to your landlord. By way of comparison, if you have their contact, well, contact them!
Ask them to shift the party into chill mode, if it’s late. What if it’s during the day? They’ll probably know why you’re there. Even so, if they’re outside their legal right then you have a right to ask that they bring it down. Nobody has a right to extend their happiness at the expense of another’s! Fewer and fewer individuals and families can afford single-family homes in the middle of an abandoned golf course in the heart of the city! In other words, the skills of empathy and negotiation will be more important as time passes. Might as well start practicing now!
Proceed on the basis that they’ll be reasonable, even if they seem heated in the moment. No one likes to be busted for stuff like this but, then again, nobody is entitled to be a big hairy butt! Lead the way with your calm, patient approach. I know it’s tough but ears perk up to soft sounds and close at loud ones. Plus then you look bad if you get out of line and start to give up the leader role. Be confident in your justification to seek a reasonable resolution. You deserve it!
Unfortunately, we can’t expect them to be kind. But, hey – if they turn the music down after slamming the door in your face, that’s a victory! Let not the perfect diminish the season of good enough 🙂 Nice or no, though, they have to obey the laws or they’re risking peril. For whatever reason, if they dig in despite calm efforts then you have now to tell someone, live with it or move.
Loud Neighbors Take Giant Steps
For me, the next step is the landlord. Take your notes and recordings and send a professional-sounding report. Don’t try to skewer the poor bastards, just tell it like it is. Your landlord might be too busy collecting your life savings to care much about your latest drama. (Sorry, I’m minimizing: don’t do that!) I’m half-joking here – expect that they’ll take you seriously. They will either help or not. If no, it’s either the cops, a lawyer or a move.
Let me start with the most drastic-seeming: a move. I think a lot of people would rather waste their resources in court than consider moving. That’s a choice you have to make. NB – a move doesn’t necessarily have to entail a dramatic exodus out of the the motherland. You can talk to the Lord of the Land to ask whether another unit is available in the other half of the building; far from The Noise. Barring that, adios! Good luck with your new neighbors: Silent and Deadly lol. Just kidding, I hope.
Lions and Tigers and Squares
Cops, lawyers, endive sprouts: not everyone’s cuppa. Necessary sometimes, I suggest availing of them when stuff gets out of hand. Sworn to the cartel? Not sure why you’re even reading this. For the rest of you, do the same thing you did with your landlord with the professionals. Obviously, if your dearest neighbor is violent or threatening, jump straight to 911. Shootouts are dangerous so try to avoid them with the steps you glossed over at the head of this article.
Not only am I legally obligated to not encourage you in revenge, it’s just bad business – for both of us. If you get locked up for bringing the hell fire, I have one less reader. No readers, no blog, no point – nihilism. I actually do not know what nihilism is but it sounds scary so let’s not go there. Be lawful!
Loud Neighbors Lead to Bigger Issues
Remember in the first paragraph or so, I told you about loud neighbors being a symptom of a bigger issue? Yeah, let’s do that.
Why don’t people talk with their neighbors anymore? Back in 1776… Seriously, back in the 80’s I remember my grandparents being part of the community. There’ve always been “those with psychopathic airs” but did we assume that as the baseline “other” like it seems we do now?
Maybe it’s the loud minority that ruins it for the softer, more friendly ones. Let’s be totally honest: we’re closed off due to experience of being attacked, ridiculed, shamed, judged, harassed, outright victimized, and other well-ain’t-that-just-dandies. What I’m saying is that it might do a little good to see everyone like you and say hi once and awhile. I mean, even angle your face toward them might be a big move. You don’t need to go full Kremlin Regiment but a willingness to make eye contact can mean a lot to you and them.
It’s like that Bill Hicks bit where he’s like “War! Famine! Floods! And you look outside and it’s just [cricket noises].” By no means am I diminishing the dramas that appear. It’s just that the news has an investment in your reaction. Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist right now? Maybe I am. My conspiracy is this: your neighbor is just like you. We all are seeking happiness, I do it through music, but most of us are getting it tragically wrong. All I can share with you is that any attempt at communication, no matter how sophomoric, is leagues superior to angry plotting and animalistic reaction and retribution. Gandhi Out. 🙂
P.S. Remember how I said “don’t minimize”? I mean that. Your emotions are there, and of course your loud neighbors have feelings too. People are feelings-motivated. Cold rationality doesn’t win the day and empathy for yourself and them will take you far. Respect yourself first and you’ll respect others. Communication is hard for a lot of people but it beats the alternative.