How Can I Tell if an Apartment Has Adequate Soundproofing Before Moving In?

Good Questions

Q: I currently live in a rental with no soundproofing at all (no exaggeration). I didn't realize how bad it was until after I moved in. While I've lived in other apartments with varying levels of soundproofing, this apartment is far worse than anything I thought possible.

All the noises are amplified and reverberated; I can feel the bass from televisions and stereos sometimes; upstairs footsteps sound like elephants stomping; and I generally feel like I'm sitting in the same room with my neighbors. The crazy thing is I know my neighbors are not being obnoxious for the most part, though I do think a few are clueless and not overly mindful. For my next apartment I would love to avoid a place with thin walls and no soundproofing. Besides living in a place with concrete walls or moving out to the countryside, is there a way to determine if an apartment has adequate soundproofing or anything better than what I have now?:

I know living on the top floor helps, but I can hear my downstairs neighbors a little too well even with my floor covered 80%. And I know that I can try and ask potential neighbors about the soundproofing, but I don't have a lot of time to hang outside of buildings to ask tenants for their honest opinion. Also, this being New York, apartments go fast, especially in this market, and plus it's weird to hang outside a building to ask tenants questions. Any suggestions?

Sent by Susan P

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.