7 Tips for Sane Living on a Busy Street

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My house is on a busy street, a north-south thoroughfare with no signals to slow people down. Cars rush by from dawn to dusk as drivers hustle to and from work and errands. It's noisy and annoying, no doubt about it. I'd rather live where strollers and dogs are the main traffic, but honestly, it's not that bad.

Buying a house on a busy street let my husband and I live in an area we otherwise couldn't afford. We are only a few blocks from the heart of the neighborhood, which means loads of walkable options for food, shopping, etc. We enjoy beautiful views of the mountains when we walk our pup on clear days. And it's easy to get to downtown by car or bus.

But what about all that racket, you ask? You get used to it, I swear. But there are also a few things you can do to make it better:

  • Before you actually buy a home on a busy street, visit at different times of the day to get a feel for the noise situation. At our house, we found that the traffic dwindles down to practically nothing by around 8pm.

  • Use a fan or noise machine to block out noise at bedtime, especially if you're a light sleeper. Once my husband turns on our fan, a semi could rattle by and we wouldn't hear it. I also give earplugs to guests who sleep downstairs, just in case.

  • Use noise-cancelling headphones when you need to concentrate. I work at home and my office faces the street, so I often listen to ambient noise through my old-school studio headphones. Look for free options online. SimplyNoise, for example, offers several different sounds, from straight white noise to thunderstorms.

  • Plant plenty of noise-buffering shrubs and trees. Greenery also gives you privacy, which is important when people are passing by your house constantly. The right fencing can also help. If you want to go the DIY route, regional landscaping tips are easy to find online, but it may be worth paying for a consultation with a specialist.

  • Consider investing in new windows, such as triple-pane. Sure, you're looking at several thousand dollars or more, but the more glass that separates you from the street the better. Also, make sure your windows are properly sealed with caulk and weather-stripping. Wooden shutters and heavy drapes can dampen noise as well.

  • When you're outside on a deck or patio, background music does a solid job of covering up street sounds, or at least makes a good distraction. 

  • Have a sense of humor about it. While living on a busy street isn't ideal, it's a fact of life for many people, especially those in concentrated urban areas.                  
    What about you — do you live on a busy street? What are your noise-abating strategies?

(Image: flickr user iandeth, licensed under Creative Commons)