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After each move (and there have been many) we promise ourselves that we're never moving again - well...never say never, it seems. Last year we moved again, from a Medieval dwelling to a modern one. It was a good decision. Although I miss the romance of living in something old (and opposite a castle), the trade-off was poor indoor light, no outdoor space and too many pigeons. In the new apartment I barely have to switch on a light bulb and we have a small garden.
The only downside - but it's quite a big one - is that the walls and floors/ceilings are not as thick as the old place so we hear raised voices and footfalls (oddly folks don't take off their outdoor shoes). Therefore my quest in 2018 will be soundproofing! So far I have researched sound-absorbing paint, soundproof curtains and sound-blocking panels.
Frustratingly there aren't many rules here regarding apartment living, in fact the only one I'm aware of is that no loud noises are allowed before 7am, between 2-4pm, and after 11pm. I'd love to add to that "removal of outdoor shoes", "laying carpets/rugs" and "no washing machine/dishwasher after 10pm". It's a shame that apartment blocks are not soundproofed at the construction stage and it doesn't seems to matter how much you pay. I've been in apartments in exclusive areas and some built straight after WWII and they all have the same issues. I personally have no desire to overhear marital discord - and I don't want to be a nuisance for my neighbours either - so I'm gradually adding various features to block incoming/outgoing sound. So far I've bought thick wool carpets for all of the rooms, stuck felt pads onto the bottom of my chairs, rubber protectors on door handles and a thick rug under the cat's litter tray. Next: heavy curtains - I've read that wool is an excellent natural sound absorber.
Unfortunately soundproofing products are not easy to find on the high street so I'm going to see how far I can get with DIY. The greatest challenge will be soundproof panels and ideally something to damper washing machine noise.
In the end, for anyone living in an apartment all that's really needed is a little respect and consideration, but who knows, if all of the above fails this might not be our last relocation!
Interesting note... recently a woman successfully sued the family living above her because they made too much noise - she won thousands in compensation. I think this is something we will see more and more of if people can't learn to live together civilly.
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