05 January 2010

The joy of thin walls

By: Jessica B.

On New Year’s Day, my hungover body was relaxing on my couch when I heard the distinct sound of someone throwing up, and it wasn’t coming from my apartment.

And as I listened to the dry heaves and sound of someone’s stomach emptying, I thought: god I hate thin walls.

As a long-time apartment dweller, thin walls/floors/ceilings are probably my ultimate pet peeve.

If I could, I would live in an apartment that is surrounded by cement, blocking out sound from any neighbors above, next door or below me. I dream about that because right now, my paper thin walls drive me B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Of course, when I rented this apartment, I didn’t know about the thin walls, thanks to a landlord who lied like a mofo. And when I realized how thin they were, I actually considered how I could shave my landlord’s head in the middle of the night, without him noticing.

So how thin are the walls/ceiling of my apartment? I can hear the woman living above me snoring, the guy living below me logging on to AOL (“You’ve got mail!”) at all hours and my non-hot next door neighbor fighting with her boyfriends, screaming, “you don’t respect me!” I can handle all of these things, but hearing someone throw up in the apartment next door? That’s just not cool, especially when I’m trying to keep from doing it myself.

But, it is better than my old Minneapolis apartment where a neighbor and her boyfriend would have sex like rabbits ALL THE TIME. It was super uncomfortable. Unfortunately, she was a screamer, fortunately, he didn’t last long ;)

What about you? What is your ultimate pet peeve about living in apartments? Or what is the funniest/worst thing you’ve heard one of your neighbors doing?

Remember to vote!! For me in the 20sb awards here! Mwah!

New movie review: It’s Complicated. And I may have used the words “John K” and “my lady bits” in the same sentence :)

Salad envy: Several of you commented on my healthy, delish salad that I made for dinner last night so I’ll be featuring it in an upcoming post!


  1. Nikki says:

    I am sitting here listening to deep loud snoring from my new neighbour beneath me. My floors are vibrating and he has currently been asleep since 6pm so 5 hours of torture. I can’t wear earplugs as he is sleeping when I am awake and trying to watch TV. No matter where I go in the flat I can hear him. I am a woman who loves living alone coz of the peace- but now I feel I am living with this man but getting none of the perks. Lol. Anyway reading this blog made me giggle. I came online to research wireless headphones for tv but then I won’t hear the phone or door. Perhaps that’s a small price to pay as currently I feel like I am undergoing water torture and he hasn’t even lived here a week yet!!!!!!

  2. Sleepless in NH says:

    Our bed can only fit on one wall in our bedroom so I can’t move it. I guess our (2 male) neighbors have the same issue. One guy snores EVERY night. He coughs and chokes. These are young men less than 35 years old. I can’t understand why he’d be a snorer except they also (against the apartment rules) smoke. I smell smoke on and off all day. All night this guy coughs or snores. I HATE it when my husband snores. Even with a white noise machine, I have to hear snoring (my dog also snores). Sticking in earplugs is not the answer. I have to be able to hear my son and what is going on in the apartment. So frustrating. Otherwise, they are decent neighbors so we just deal with it.

  3. Patrick says:

    I never could hear my neighbors. Until some ghetto people from jersey moved in. Now I hear them all the time. My roommate actually yelled at them cursing them out to go back to Newark and tellin them to pay taxes and get jobs. It’s section 8 and they are 20 year olds with no supervision from their uncle who is the landlord. They suck.

  4. Nancy says:

    It’s been over 3 years since this blog was written, but I want to thank its creator for giving me a big laugh at a time when I am so miserable. I spent a lot of money to rent a condo in a so-called resort for the entire month, and I haven’t had much sleep since I arrived 2 weeks ago. The luxury 1 bedroom turned out to be an efficiency that resembles a cheap motel room, but that isn’t my biggest complaint. On one side of me I hear snoring all night. Above me I hear thumping, people in the bathroom and such foul language, I thought I was listening to a Scorsese film.

    So I am now in the lobby (thank goodness for WiFi) hoping that I can find a little peace, although I’d really rather be in bed sleeping.

    I’ve lived in too many apartments to name just one bad experience, although even in a private home I was disturbed by barking dogs who were left outside all night. If I had to name one, it would be the apartment where I could hear the couple next door arguing about sex. He kept saying “I’m horny” and she kept saying “Get off of me, I’m tired.” I’ve heard everything from snoring to bad gas, which is why I once bought a small mobile home and am hoping to find a forever place with some peace & quiet before I leave this planet.

  5. Tiff says:

    I live in a 4-family home (like a duplex cut down the middle vertically) and it SUCKS!
    Ok, so my walls are super thin and I HATE it!!! I can hear my above neighbor snoring, walking/stumping across the floors, the floors squeak, above neighbor everytime he pees sounds like he’s peeing in a bucket on my head, sneezing, coughing, yawning, constant sound of something falling on the floor, I can hear when someone moves in their bed, kitchen cabinets opening/closing, home phone ringing/voice mail machine, tv/music even when it’s low, next door neighbor talking loud on phone (I can make out every word), next door neighbor tv.

    To make it worse, my neighbor’s are very inconsiderate. Their tvs can be so loud that I know what they’re watching. The above neighbor just got a theatre system and had a movie so loud I had to look up the weather because I thought it was about to storm until I realized it was the tv upstairs. They also bang/knock/hammer for no reason. The lady above likes to sing (off key) at the top of her lungs from time to time (ex:”POWER!…I got the POWER!”). Not to mention there’s only supposed to be one person in each unit, but she somehow got away with moving a guy in.My grandfather is my landlord, and seems to be passive about the rules with everyone but me. I’ve complained about the singing and loud music, which did stop for awhile, but didn’t last long.

    I’m past complaining. The walls are simply way too thin, and after two years of restless sleep, I’m ready to get the $%#@ out. I mean, the building is old, I’m convinced 0% insulated and poorly built. I have a glass bathroom doorknob on my back door for crying out loud!

  6. Apartments Suck says:

    Thin walls are HELL especially when you’re dealing with inconsiderate neighbors – who seem to comprise the bulk of apartment dwellers. I don’t want to know what my neighbors are doing. I don’t want to know when they flush the toilet, what they’re cooking, or what they’re saying on the phone. And I certainly don’t want to hear them throw up. I tried going the earplug route like some here have. The thing is they do nothing to mitigate the vibrations caused by knuckle-draggers stomping across floors, slamming doors, cranking subwoofers, etc. etc. I once lived above an ape who would slam his front door with such force it actually shook my window blinds off the wall. And yet, my other neighbor in the same complex was so respectful I rarely heard him. Unfortunately his type are rare, which makes apartment life by and large a lesson in frustration.

    I’m living in a little house now and while it’s far from perfect, at least I have my sanity. I’ll never live in an apartment again no matter how well the insulation. All it takes is one idiot to ruin everything. That being said, investors who finance these hell-holes need to stop being so freaking greedy and construct buildings where people have some semblance of privacy. No one should have to hear the guy next door throw up.

  7. Sam says:

    The neighbors who live below me are juniors in college, already have a child and complain when my roommate and I have a party that’s “too loud we have a baby trying to sleep.” Well… Your baby rarely sleeps, it wakes me up wailing every morning but you don’t wake up to it for what feels like hours after it starts crying. You have the loudest screaming sex that lasts for a minimum of 40 minutes and I know that’s keeping your baby awake. Don’t complain to me anymore that I’m too loud, I haven’t had a full nights sleep in 5 months, including when I pass out drunk

  8. Beka says:

    I hate the thin walls in my apartment. I room with two other girls and I could be in my room with the door closed while they are out in the living room and you can hear everything they say perfectly! I can’t even talk on the phone in my room without the entire apartment being able to hear me. One of my roommates plays the guitar alot and even though she’s two rooms away, thinking I can’t hear it…I can totally hear it. What’s worse if the coffee grinder being used at 5:30 in the morning! It wakes me up every time.

    We also have windows that might as well be open all the time. My window faces the courtyard area and you can hear the tv from the neighbors all the way on the other side. The dog next door barks for hours early in the morning and it’s like the dog might as well be in my bedroom it’s so loud. I get to hear kids screaming and yelling Saturday mornings, the gardeners, couples arguing, people in the pool way past midnight swearing every other word. If I had known the apartment was this loud, I probably never would have moved in.

  9. orangesugar says:

    For the most part our last condo experience was relatively noise free. The main problem was the neighbors downstairs would go smoke outside and it would travel up into our apartment via the screen door. Not cool!

    Right now we are in a house which is much better. Don’t have to worry about thin walls.

    But your post reminds me of this review I read on apartmentratings.com. It was hilarious, saying that the walls were so thin he could hear his neighbor zip his pants and what he was ordering on his pizza. They really should build apartments better with soundproofing, but no one ever wants to do anything right.

  10. Amy says:

    I have thin walls as well… the guy above me: plays loud music at all hours, snores when he sleeps, vacuums ALL THE TIME, and talks loudly on the phone. The girl next to me: has loud parties, at least once a week, and is currently sick with some kind of cold because she’s constantly coughing! the guy below me: has loud sex, more often than I would like to hear. The worst part is, I ran into him in the lobby the other day, and realized he is absolutely ugly, and now I have an ugly face to put to all that loud sex (gross!) … so ya, thin walls suck, I feel your pain!

  11. Elle says:

    Eweeeeeee, thin walls and throwing up is just NOT fun!!! I’m with you, though. I live in a two-family house, but the guy downstairs watches football and screams at the TV ALL the time. It scares the begeesus out of me every time!

  12. Steph says:

    When Hubby was gone to Iraq, I had rabbit-like neighbors who were screamers. IT SUCKS.

    And this was my favorite line of yours, probably ever: “Unfortunately, she was a screamer, fortunately, he didn’t last long ;)”

  13. maris says:

    I must have drawn the lucky card. I do have neighbors that have loud sex but they live down the hall. I’ve only had the pleasure of hearing them when I’m waiting for the elevator.

    I’m also pretty sure their window is across from mine so when it’s open window season I’ll probably be in for it. Here’s hoping they break up! Or, um. move.

  14. kage says:

    Gotta love the thin walls stories – my fav was listening to our neighbours talk for about 5 mins about how they were convinced the guy’s penis grew an inch over night…..fascinating stuff

  15. AuburnKat says:

    That’s EXACTLY why I sleep with a sound machine! I hate hearing my neighbors, especially when I am trying to sleep!

  16. Lil' Woman says:

    I had ghetto lesbians that lived below me and Big Man when we lived in the apartment and sweet jeebus they were freaking loud having sex. I’m talking headboard banging off the wall, screaming, etc…UGH!

  17. Wait, people still use AOL?

  18. Wow! Those walls are thin!

    I live in a lower unit in a townhouse and am surrounded by three neighbours … but I rarely hear them.

  19. Bing says:

    I hate thin walls and floors/ceilings. I lived on the first floor of a condo in college, and I could hear the guys peeing who lived in the unit above me. The best part – there bathroom was over my dining room table. Yummy!

    In our current condo, I can hear through the walls as well – but at least we live in a 2-story unit and no one is above or below us. The best is when my neighbor’s son or dog run up the stairs, and it sounds like someone is walking around in my place. Kinda freaky when you are home alone!

  20. katelin says:

    i swear either our walls are super thin or our neighbors are the loudest people ever because whenever i’m in the bathroom i can hear entire conversations, it’s a little ridiculous. but luckily i only have neighbors on two sides so i guess i can live.

  21. A Super Girl says:

    I can’t hear my neighbors throwing up, but I can hear them yelling or talking on the phone. And it is very annoying!

  22. Sara says:

    I used to have this rather large couple who lived above me. It sounded like elephants walking around and then they would have sex. So gross.

  23. Kate says:

    I’m not sure which I find more ridiculous — the fact that you can hear that guy logging on or the fact that he still uses AOL.

    My biggest pet peeves when I lived in a building were bad laundry room etiquette and those asshats who let in strangers who don’t have keys. The door is locked for a reason. If someone doesn’t have a key, they need to either (a) buzz the person they’re looking for or (b) suck it.

  24. Nora says:

    – Having to smell other people’s dinners in the hallways, especially if it wasn’t appetizing.

    – My crazy neighbors who lived above me and fought at all hours of the night. Literally. And then they’d have sex together at 3 am for three hours. It was rather annoying.

  25. kim says:

    Worst parts:
    – roommates and neighbors upstairs that do not shovel
    – high heels on the stairs late night or early am
    – people who break your dishes and lie about it
    – people who steal your clothes and lie about it

  26. Ginger says:

    I’ve written before about all my crazy neighbor issues, but specifically with thin walls:
    I had a downstairs neighbor who wanted to be a DJ, so every Sunday morning at 6 or 7am (whenever he got back from whatever club he was at), he would PRACTICE. I guess it was more thin floors than walls, but damn, I hated that guy.
    In that same apartment, we had an upstairs neighbor who dated a meathead who had no regard for anyone (even her). We would hear them fight, throw things, talk trash about people in the building (including us). It was fantastic.
    I’m so glad we don’t live there anymore.

  27. Cassie Oliver says:

    “Unfortunately, she was a screamer, fortunately, he didn’t last long ;)”

    HAHAHA! This just made my day.

  28. Jenn says:

    My apartment has obnoxiously thin walls. I hate it. I don’t want to know what my neighbors are doing.

  29. this definitely brings me back to wretched college dorm living. I hated being able to hear people’s conversations (sometimes) and their bad choice of music.

    but hearing someone throw up? that’s just awful.

  30. Miss Grace says:

    That sounds absolutely wretched.

  31. angelia says:

    Our neighbors argue all the time, then have make up sex all night long. I swear to god sometimes they are leaning on the wall when they do it. I’ve taken to pounding on the wall when it gets too loud. They also have a baby, who happens to be a very unhappy little fellow and cries on a constant basis. I heard though the grapevine that they are moving…I can’t WAIT!

  32. Sarah says:

    Thankfully, I’ve never heard anything as bad as what people here describe. In our old place I would occasionally hear the neighbour’s TV, but he only watched motor racing late at night and that didn’t bother me – helped me fall asleep a few times actually. What always made me laugh was that his shower was also near my bedroom, and I could hear him singing in it. And he was way off tune – it made me laugh so much that it never bothered me. Other than that he was very quiet.

    But listening to someone throw up is just wrong.

  33. At my last place, I could hear the couple above me have sex pretty regularly, but the heater in my room always drowned out the girl for the most part (she was a “Oh yes! Oh God!” kind of girl). And then one time they were SO LOUD it woke me up at 1:45 IN THE MORNING. So I wrote them a note. They did it only one more time before I actually confronted the guy and he was very apologetic and I never heard from them again. It was lovely.

    And now in my new apartment, I have elephants above me. I have tried talking to them too, and the girl seemed very concerned about the noise, but thus far, doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. I think it’s just thin floor/ceiling. But I have started sleeping with earplugs and while they are a little uncomfortable and make my ears itch, I fall to sleep like that ::snaps::

  34. this is like the third post i’ve read in the last day mentioning thin walls, they are a pain in the ass right?

    believe you me, i’m still rocking apartment thin wall living.

  35. SoMi's Nilsa says:

    Thin walls are hard to detect when looking at a place. My last condo had paper thin walls, too. I could hear one neighbor during sporting events (he had HD, I didn’t … I got the visual first and a few seconds later would hear him screaming at the TV). And I would hear my upstairs neighbor have crazy sex and fight with her boyfriends (one night, she had to coax one of them off the balcony – I think he was threatening to jump). After she moved out, her renter was a deaf college student who listened to her TV loud enough at 2 in the morning to wake me. I’d pound on her door, but it was so loud, she couldn’t hear me. I finally left her a really nasty note and the noise subsided. But, despite that kind of noise, I really didn’t mind. It’s part of community living in pretty much every building. If you don’t like it, it’s time to find a house.

  36. E.P. says:

    In apartments (or really any place you live), thin walls ARE the worst. There is nothing I hate more than hearing something I shouldn’t hear like that. And, like you, I’ve heard a lot of things through think walls that I should NOT have heard.

  37. Clairebear says:

    did anyone else hear Gwen Stefani in their head when they read “B-A-N-A-N-A-S”? No? Just me?
    ….ok then.

  38. S says:

    I live in a flat as well and the thin walls drive me NUTS!

    The worst I hear is my neighbour using the toilet. Only ones though – luckily.

  39. Heidi Renée says:

    College was by far the worst for me. The girls next door left their TV on 24/7, apparently so they could see when they came back in the room at night. And they never muted it. Hello, leave the lamp on?

  40. Maki says:

    Oh do you remember when I had that dancer neighbor upstairs?? It was HELL!!! But the new BF turned her into an angel… Obviously the most uncomfortable thing was to hear her screaming while having sex. Don’t we all hate that???

  41. phampants says:

    My lsst apt had 3 feet of reinforced concrete b/w floors and i still heard the upstairs neighbors having sex.

  42. steph anne says:

    Wow, that must be hard to live with. I wouldn’t know how that feels though since I’m deaf. There were times where my Husband would tell me he heard something next door or below us.

  43. blaez says:

    thin walls definatly suck. we can hear our neighbor’s tv and our walls really are not that thin… i think they’re deaf.

    in the condo we could hear the neighbors’ tv too. again, deaf people. gotta be hard of hearing…

    i hate apartment living because its not my own home. i’m ready to live in a house that’s mine instead of paying someone else’s mortgage on thier condo that they decided to rent instead of sell when they got married and moved in with thier significant other.

  44. Iva says:

    oh no! ACK! that just sounds so frustrating and highly annoying. I wonder if one of those white noise machines would help?! Although highly doubtful it could muff out all of that! The only time I was in that close proximity with others was in college in a dorm room….when they tell you living and sharing one bathroom with 4 girls is “part of the college experience” , when in reality its just a long wait to get your turn in the shower lol

  45. Andhari says:

    Ugh. Thin walls are the worst when your neighbors have sex like rabbits. I so wouldn’t wanna hear that when I’m home, either alone or with company. Awkward much.:p

  46. Allison says:

    Do you think you might have bionic hearing? I think you may.

    Or, I’ve just never had an apartment with that thin of walls. Because THAT is thin.

  47. Erin says:

    The worst was living in the dorms in college. Even though the walls were allegedly cinder block, our neighbors were the loudest people ever and they played horrible rap music at all hours. Also, we lived above the front door and had to listen to frat boys serenade the sorority girls who lived in our dorm. At 2AM.

  48. Akirah says:

    That would make me very angry because the second I hear someone puke, I’m done for the rest of the day.

  49. erin says:

    My old apartment was AWFUL. The dudes who lived above us were 1) in a band and had band practice in their 3rd floor apartment, 2) doing something that sounded like bowling with encyclopedias on a regular basis, and 3) having loud sex with their girlfriends. We HATED them.

    The people below us weren’t too bad but they liked playing their stereo really loud around 10am on Sunday morning. I think this had something to do with the coke.

  50. mandy says:

    Ugh that would be the worst! It takes me back to my college dorm days.

  51. TEM says:

    Oh apartment walls…the walls in my current place are wicked thin too, and I can hear my next-door neighbor watching TV until 1am every night (my bedroom and his living room share a wall), and my upstairs neighbors had a massive screaming fight the weekend before Christmas that went on for so long I almost called the cops on them. I can also hear when they vacuum! That’s really pathetic.

    The apartment I lived in before this was much better (it was an older building with *much* more solidly constructed walls), and the only time I ever heard my neighbors was when the ones above me would have extremely loud sex at strange times (like 11am on a Tuesday)–it didn’t bother me, it was just wicked amusing! :-P


    Question for you and other commenters: can you hear the people BELOW you walking? I have a family below me and I swear, I hear them walking around, as if it travels up the walls. Part of me thinks I am going crazy. Thanks for any advice.

  53. I am dealing with the same thing right now. Since mid-December someone’s alarm has been beeping from 7am to 9am every.single.morning. Turns out it’s the building next to mine! That’s how thin the walls are! And the guy who lives below me rocks out to classic rock. I have no problem with the music but it’s so loud my floor vibrates. Thin walls, and floors, are the WORST.

  54. Caz says:

    To be honest I only lived in an apartment once for 12 months. Every other time has been a house (with room mates or not) but always fully detached and you could only hear the people in the house.

    That being said, I suspect despite the concrete walls in our apartment, AB and I could have been the loud ones. He insists he’s not deaf, but prefers music so loud it’s actually PAINFUL to my ears. And I may or may not have accidentally had sex without closing the window once. Ooops.