When you live in the city, dealing with noise is a challenge most people have to face. Most of the time, people are out at the office or school, so the problem only crops up at night or on the weekend.
I never used to notice the noise from my neighbors. Maybe because I was basically home for dinner, sleep and weekends. Perhaps I was too tired after a long day, my neighbors were tired too, or my hearing just wasn’t that sensitive. There were very few instances where I’d be tempted to ask for intervention because someone is disturbing the peace.
My daily noise challenges
Fast forward to the present. I am working remotely and have to deal with:
A neighbor who is a musician. He plays the drums and though they said they had soundproofed his studio, I can still hear him practicing. He’s very good but I don’t want or need the percussion while I’m on a voice or video conference.
A neighbor who seems to be a stand-up comedian/singer. Periodically, this neighbor would practice. He sings beautifully but I wish he wouldn’t use a microphone or lower the volume.
A neighbor whose child loves to scream. He screams when he’s happy, angry, annoyed, frustrated, or just wants attention. If screaming doesn’t work, he throws things. He also loves to bounce against the metal door or wooden walls, not to mention banging doors. I’ve tried to be understanding but the level of noise which goes on every day, almost all day is too much. I confess that this is the one that gets my goat and makes me want to tear my hair out at times.
What can we do?
Someone shared a story with me on FB about a cockroach in a restaurant. The moral of the story is, we can choose to react or choose to respond. Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of. This is honestly not always easy because we have to overcome our natural, spontaneous, or automatic habits.
If you have noisy neighbors like mine, here are some tips on how to deal with annoying sounds.
Talk to your neighbor.
Sometimes, they just need to know that they can be heard and need to lower the volume a bit. Some may just apologize and do nothing while others get mad at you for complaining. Most people though will take steps to fix it (like my drummer next door).
Close the windows.
This will usually cut down the sound a bit, especially if the window has good seals. Thick glass usually muffles the sound too. The drawback here will be that it may affect ventilation. If you have to do this frequently, you may wish to invest in an air-conditioner.
Use soundproof curtains.
It will be worth every last peso if it can block out the noise completely. Like with closed windows, poor ventilation is a possible drawback here. If you have to install them, you may wish to invest in an air-conditioner.
Get noise-canceling headphones.
If you can’t hear it, you won’t get stressed. Enough said.
Turn on the TV/music player.
Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire. Just watch the time. This is a useful tactic in the daytime but would be annoying to other neighbors when they are trying to relax at night. I found my neighbor pipes down if they hear me start playing anime or music. It’s a useful way to let them know they are WAY too loud because they can actually hear my music over the screaming kid.
When all else fails, consider relocating.
Find a place that perfectly matches your need and hopefully has great soundproofing already.