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HenryJonesJr
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14 Apr 2019, 5:58 pm

Hello all. I am 34 years old and this is an issue that has had a significant impact on my life in recent years, so this seemed like the appropriate part of the forum to post it in. I would like a mature perspective on the issue from others who have been living independently for a few years. (I have been living independently for the last 6 years now.)

I have had trouble with neighbors in apartments I have lived in. I am willing to admit that it was possibly my fault, though it was totally unintentional. I rented a little house for a while, but now my situation has forced me to move back to an apartment.

Basically, I want to get along with my neighbors, or at least to behave in a reasonable adult manner in relation to them. The problems I have had in the past have always been around sound and privacy. I feel that it would be difficult to have a roommate due to my unpredictable sleeping. Also I am very sensitive about privacy with personal space and bodily functions. So I live in an apartment alone. I am very sensitive to hostility from others on a physical level, so maybe I need to get better in that regard somehow, but I just want to be friendly to my neighbors and not be in conflict with them.

I will list some questions, and hopefully someone can give me some advice that helps me to make sense of these things:

(1) Typing on my computer keyboard: I like to work at my dining room table. My job allows me to do much of my work from home, and I prefer that because of less distractions and I have all my books available. But I think that my neighbors are bothered by the sound of my keyboard when I type. In the last apartment I lived in it seemed that one of my neighbors would stomp on the ceiling above my head when I was typing. Now I am afraid that will happen again here. Is it unreasonable to type in certain parts of your apartment?

(2) Bathroom exhaust fan: As I said I am very shy about bodily functions, so I like to run the exhaust fan when I used the bathroom, especially "number 2". Also when I take a shower. I try not to run it late at night or too early in the morning, and I try to turn it off as soon as I am done. Is it unreasonable or inconsiderate to run the exhaust fan in an apartment bathroom?

(3) Talking on the phone: When I talk on the phone (or in person), I tend to talk a bit loud, I think because of the effort it takes for me to speak clearly. I know this annoyed my previous neighbors, as they even sarcastically repeated back to me things I said in phone conversations. So is it rude or unreasonable to talk on the phone in your apartment, or should you go outside to use the phone?

(4) White noise machine when sleeping: I am a very light sleeper, and my cats tend to wake me up when they roam around and do their crazy kitty things at night. So I sleep with earplugs and a white noise machine running at night. I know this white noise machine also annoyed my previous neighbors. Is it unreasonable or rude to use a white noise machine when you sleep in an apartment?

Summing up: I don't know why people gave me such a hard time at the past few apartments I lived in. Possibilities I've considered are:

-- I am actually being rude, inconsiderate, or socially inappropriate and it is pissing people off.
-- Social difficulties make people think I am unfriendly, so they think I am hostile and give me a hard time out of defense.
-- I am an easy target because I am so sensitive and get emotionally overwhelmed in conflict, so they pick on me because people do that.
-- None of the above: People just have their moods and I need to learn to ignore it and go on about my way.

Thanks in advance for your advice. For me these are very significant issues, and I hope to resolve them somehow so that I can live a better life near others.



shortfatbalduglyman
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14 Apr 2019, 6:44 pm

Based on your description, I find it hard to imagine that your neighbors could hear you type on the computer


It does not sound to me like you did anything "rude"


But there is more to the situation than you realized or included



breaks0
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14 Apr 2019, 6:55 pm

From your numbered list of questions, just off the top of my head, they all seem to center around the issue of "noise"/volume of sound that you're making and whether or not your neighbors find that annoying or disruptive.

#1 is imo ridiculous of your neighbors (past or present) to be complaining about! I mean wtf?! How much noise could typing on a computer possibly make and how oversensitive would your neighbors have to be to hear it unless maybe they were pressing their ears against the wall or the floor/ceiling and maintaining total silence in their own apartments? I don't think this is something you need to worry about at all.

#3, however, yes that could be a problem if you're a habitual loud talker on the phone and your neighbors can hear you. Nonetheless, you absolutely have the right to make/receive calls in your own home! If you're in your own apartment, your phone calls are your business and yours alone. Your neighbors have every right maybe to talk to you about it if you're really loud, but they don't have the right to be actively listening to your private conversations! And if they are, that's something you should take up w/your landlord. Re: being loud, however, if this is an issue for you, I don't know what to suggest other than try to find a way either to talk more quietly or yes take it outside if you have to.

I have no idea about #s 2 and 4 since I don't know how loud they are, hopefully others can make more constructive suggestions on those matters.

On a personal note, I've been living in apartments for the last 20 years of my life since I moved to NYC. I had my own technically 2-bedroom place in Brooklyn for the first 5 years which was great. Then I moved in 2004 into an elderly woman's place where I stayed far too long (till 2016). I had my own room, but between her cat (I'm a dog person, not a cat one), her own age and health needs and other expectations she had of a roommate and my own deteriorating financial situation, I finally had to move since we ended up shouting at each other for the last year I was there. Now I've really downgraded b/c I'm living again in an (elderly) friend's studio apartment where I sleep on his floor, again due to my precarious finances. So no room or bed of my own any more. It's next to a major university where I use the library all the time, which is super convenient and he's a basically nice guy. But between alot of his own crazy habits (using my phone all the time b/c he doesn't have his own, his talking in his sleep, his clutter all over the apartment, his poor hygiene and that of the apartment, among other issues) and the fact that I've been there three years, I know I can't take more than another year or two of living there or I'll explode or something! I either want my own studio or at least my own room in a shared apartment w/a (younger) roommate. So I can totally get why you want/need your own place.

Good luck w/everything!



blazingstar
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14 Apr 2019, 7:06 pm

#1 - I suspect that the keyboard is being amplified by the dining room table. Try putting a mat under your keyboard, or in some manner damp the resonance created by the table. If you have a different table, it may not matter.

#3 I can see being a problem for close neighbors. Can you get some speech therapy, or at least an assessment and perhaps there are some technical work a rounds.

Smile at people and look shy. :D people seem to excuse shyness more than disability. :D


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HenryJonesJr
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14 Apr 2019, 7:57 pm

blazingstar wrote:
#1 - I suspect that the keyboard is being amplified by the dining room table. Try putting a mat under your keyboard, or in some manner damp the resonance created by the table. If you have a different table, it may not matter.

#3 I can see being a problem for close neighbors. Can you get some speech therapy, or at least an assessment and perhaps there are some technical work a rounds.

Smile at people and look shy. :D people seem to excuse shyness more than disability. :D

I will try the smile and look shy approach. I am shy, so that part should be easy :D I have been trying to make an effort to appear more friendly to people. Because it works, and because inside I do have a friendly attitude towards others, just social anxiety takes over and makes it hard to show.

Some day speech therapy might be helpful, when I can get better insurance. That may be right with the keyboard, I'll have to try a mat under it.

to breaks0: Thanks and good luck to you too!

to shortfatbalduglyman: I'm sure there is more to the situation than I realize. There is more that I didn't include, but I didn't want to go into details. I know the situation was definitely partly my fault in the past. I hope to act more wisely this time.

general info: I just want to make sure that I am being reasonable. I hope to behave as a reasonable adult, so that I will not come into conflict for no good reason. At least I can mind my own business and live and let live.



nick007
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14 Apr 2019, 9:17 pm

People should understand & be considerate of the fact that when they live in apartments there is going to be some noise form neighbors & that everyone will make some noises that their neighbors can hear. What's important is that your not intentionally making noise that you know will bother your neighbors a lot. Our neighbors on one side of us play very heavy bass sometimes & it's so loud we cant be downstairs long without earplugs. Last time I went over there to politely ask him to turn it down, he said he was tired of people coming over telling him to turn it down & then he slammed the door in my face. Being an a$$hole is the type of behavior that p!sses off your neighbors. I would LOVE for you to be on that side of us instead of him. The noises you make sound like minor nuisances that wouldn't force us to avoid part of our place at times. As for as the keyboard thing goes, my typing is pretty loud too cuz I hit the keys hard I guess. I should try the suggestion about putting a mat under the keyboard cuz my comp is in my bedroom & there's bedrooms on both sides of mine. Maybe I do disturb the neighbors when I type at night but nobody has ever complained or said or done anything to let me know it's too loud & bothers them. If you type as loud as I do it might not be the best idea to type during the night, especially if there's a noise ordinance like there is here, between 10 & 7. It also might be good not to talk on the phone during those times too. Other than that I don't think your noises should bother your neighbors unless they are super sensitive to noise but that is their problem & something they need to learn to accept & deal with if they're going to keep living in an apartment.


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HenryJonesJr
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15 Apr 2019, 6:13 pm

Yes this sounds very reasonable. Other people have said similar things also. Thank you for this perspective.



caThar4G
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15 Apr 2019, 9:47 pm

Unless you pound your keyboard, I don't see how people could hear that.



HenryJonesJr
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16 Apr 2019, 7:39 pm

It is possible that I am interpreting crashes and bangs from the other side of the ceiling as attempts at communication, when in fact they just randomly happen right after things that I do. Spurious correlations, in other words.

I have had a conflict with a neighbor in the past over noise, so maybe I am overgeneralizing from that situation to the present one.



HenryJonesJr
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16 Apr 2019, 7:45 pm

I also have a cat who grooms herself loudly and obsessively, and I fear that my neighbors will hear the sounds of her doing that and misinterpret them somehow in a way that makes them uncomfortable... (being very indirect here)

But there is nothing I can do about that. The cat has always been that way.



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16 Apr 2019, 7:59 pm

Maybe the walls of your apartments have been very thin. If you will be moving soon, try to find a sturdily built modern apartment building.

You might be able to find out whether your neighbors' bangs and thumps are communication by doing one of these activities at a different time of day (and seeing if they bang and thump then as well).

Ideally, you would go to their apartments and ask them if they are bothered and figure out a way to avoid bothering them (asking them for a better time of day to type, etc.). They really should not be able to hear you typing, however. The neighbors might have auditory issues. Do you have any auditory issues? You might be mis-hearing their thumping. It might be coming from an apartment other than the one you think it's coming from.


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HenryJonesJr
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16 Apr 2019, 8:32 pm

I did live in a couple places with very thin walls. Unfortunately, I haven't found any places in my small town that seem to have sturdy walls. That's why I rented a house for a while, but then I had to leave the house and go back to an apartment, not really by choice.

I have tried to do some experimenting with different times of day, but haven't really noticed a pattern.

I don't see how they could really hear my typing either. But as I type this right now they have walked quite heavily across my ceiling, and one time they banged some things down in the kitchen. Maybe they are just being randomly noisy unintentionally.

But even if they can hear my typing, it surely must be very quiet. I'd think they would have to be really focusing on it to hear it. Maybe they have misophonia.

I do type quite a lot. Writing is my most reliable way of coping with things, and I do it almost constantly and usually on the computer.

This whole "is it communication or not" question is really causing me a lot of stress. I am trying to either convince myself that I have no idea if it is communication or not, so I'll assume it is not. And even if it is, then what can I do about it? I actually would prefer a situation where we could each feel free to make a little noise. I think it is the perception that they are angry with me that makes me tense.



HenryJonesJr
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16 Apr 2019, 8:39 pm

Regarding auditory issues, I do have tinnitus, but I don't think that should be related.

starkid wrote:
deally, you would go to their apartments and ask them if they are bothered and figure out a way to avoid bothering them (asking them for a better time of day to type, etc.). They really should not be able to hear you typing, however. The neighbors might have auditory issues. Do you have any auditory issues? You might be mis-hearing their thumping. It might be coming from an apartment other than the one you think it's coming from.


I almost went and knocked on their door today, just to say something like "Hi, I am your neighbor and I am nice and if you need anything just knock on my door." Maybe these are not the best words to use. I think if we knew each other, however, it might make things easier. If we trusted one another.



HenryJonesJr
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16 Apr 2019, 8:42 pm

This is turning into an avalanche of posts. But, the thing is, if I interpret their stomping as "stop doing what you are doing" and actually try harder to stop bothering them, isn't that a slippery slope. Since I don't know if they are sending me a message or not? That's why part of me thinks it is most wise to just assume no communication, because where do I draw the line? If it isn't okay to type, then is it okay to run the water to brush my teeth? Argghh... head hurts.



HenryJonesJr
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16 Apr 2019, 8:45 pm

For the record, I did see the guy who lives above me in the entryway a few days ago. I said hi and smiled at him and he just looked at me with a serious expression and didn't acknowledge my hello.