Dear Vered,

I’ve lived above an empty foreclosed condo for about a year, but last month new buyers moved in, and I’ve already gotten two notes under my door telling me that I’m too loud. It’s a huge building and neighbors tend to keep to themselves here. I haven’t met the new owners yet (though I’ve seen them in the elevator) and I’m definitely not the confrontational type myself. I don’t think I’m that loud. What are some ways to minimize the noise I make, but not go crazy? I’ve already started hyperventilating when I drop things.

Noisy Neighbor

Dear Reader,

Ah, multi-unit living. You’ve enjoyed the benefits of not living above anyone for a year now. It’s time to start being a bit more conscious of your new downstairs neighbors. It’s great that you recognize that you’ve got some work to do. Two notes in a month does seem like a lot, and you don’t mention what they say, exactly, other than the general loudness. So, to give you the benefit of the doubt, here are a bunch of low-effort, high-impact things you can do to cut down on the noise you make.

  • Get in the habit of taking your shoes off in the house, as soon as you step in the door.
  • Put down rugs and carpets. If possible, there are even noise-reduction pads that can go under rugs.
  • Install bumpers on drawers and closers on cabinets. You can pick these up at your local hardware store, and they’re easy to install yourself.
  • If you have speakers for your television or stereo, move them away from your wall, and if they’re on the floor, put them up on something noise-dampening. No speakers directly touching walls or floor.
  • If you are in the habit of moving furniture, put sliders underneath.
  • Make a habit of turning down noisy things after 10pm and before 8am.
  • If you have a pet, make sure you keeps its nails trimmed; the click-click-click of pet feet on hardwood can drive a person insane.

Those are some ways you can reduce the noise you make right now. But that’s only half of the problem. The other half is the paranoia that results from getting nastygrams from neighbors about your noise and your panic about dropping things. So, let me be very clear: You live in a multi-unit dwelling. Your building has numerous people living in close quarters. Your new neighbors knew this when they moved in, and they knowingly took a risk moving in under those circumstances. As long as you show some basic consideration, like my above suggestions, go ahead and live your life. You don’t need to tiptoe. The only way to guarantee that you’ll never hear someone upstairs in a multi-unit building is if you live on the top floor.