Ask Alice: Advice for Life at Home

Alice, Hearing My Neighbors Talk Through the Floors is Driving Me Nuts

updated May 3, 2019
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Dear Alice,

My boyfriend and I have been living in a small, lovely apartment for a year or so now. A few months ago new neighbors moved in below us and we can hear them talking- not every word, but the murmurs of their conversations. We can sometimes hear walking or cabinets, but what really gets to me is the talking.

We have an area rug in our hard wood floor living room, but our bedroom, where we can also hear them sometimes, is carpeted so I am not sure if that is much of a factor. When they have had some very loud nights we have spoken to them and they have been incredibly kind and amenable. But how do you talk to someone who just has a loud voice that carries upward? How normal is it to hear neighbors talking through the floor?

I have a friend in the building who cannot hear her neighbors talking — but she has a fully thick carpeted apartment and is also not on the end of the hallway where maybe there is more room for the sound to travel? I am asking for your advice because this is driving me insane! It does not bother my boyfriend. Is this something I should let go because it is normal, or should I talk to my landlord? If I do talk to my landlord, what should I say? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated so I can put this stress to bed!


Dear Nuts,

This sounds like a drag. Hearing your neighbors, even doing normal things during normal hours, is irritating. But try putting yourself in their shoes — if you do complain about something as basic as talking (even if on the loud side) you are putting them in the position of worrying about being bothersome just by going about daily life. Don’t make them feel like they have to go about on tiptoe and using hushed tones in their own home.

Most likely this is an unfortunate structural problem with the building and not your neighbors’ faults. If you can, as you say, “let go” — do it. Or investigate soundproofing options. Maybe something as simple as having music playing low in the background during the day will distract you from this. If, after time, it doesn’t improve and is preventing you from enjoying life at home, consider a move.


p.s Readers, what do you think? Does she have a right to complain or should she just figure out a way to live with it?

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