Apartment life

Apartment life

Apartment living is a distinct challenge, not least when you have small children. When you’re living in close proximity to others with only a wall or floor separating you, your lifestyle can impinge upon or be impinged upon by your neighbors.

As an adult you can try to modify your behavior in order to mitigate the effect, but small children can’t. I know that I’m a heavy walker, but I can try to walk softly. Isabella, however, races about the place, knocking toys to the floor and falling down constantly. This is why I prefer to live on the first floor: you have to deal with the folks upstairs walking about, but at least you don’t get stressed about the noise you make.

Case in point: Two sisters live upstairs from us in our two-family house. They’re nice and accommodating and polite and good neighbors. In fact, they’re among the best neighbors I’ve had. But even so the vagaries of apartment living come into play. In this case, it turns out that Isabella’s bedroom wall is next to the stairs from the upstairs apartment. When one of the sisters leaves for work at 5:45 am, Isabella wakes up. It’s not the neighbor’s fault. She’s not clomping down the stairs or making excessive noise. But she must be catching Bella at a particular point in her sleep cycle where she’s susceptible to noise.

There are other factors to consider as well. We have a large yard and while Bella doesn’t have a lot of toys, the few she has tend to get spread about. I’m very much aware that the yard is not ours alone and try to keep them contained, but it’s just another point of stress.

Of course, even if we were alone in the house, there’s also the fact that in the older cities and towns of Massachusetts like Peabody and Salem, the older neighborhoods have houses built so close to each other that neighbors in adjoining lots are like apartment neighbors. I always feel bad when I light my grill and the smoke drifts over to my neighbor’s deck, but what can I do except not use the grill?

I look forward to the day we can buy our own home and we won’t have to live cheek by jowl with our neighbors. My hope is that we can find a nice suburban home with a yard and enough space that we can live without tiptoeing about. Yes, there always issues to deal with whether you live in an apartment or a house, but I still think house-living is preferable, at least for me.

  • I know this is over the top, but you could build a false wall from 2″x2” and 1/4” drywall, just an inch or two off of the wall common to the staircase.  If you caulk well around it with silicone, it will be enough isolation to dampen footsteps, or loudscreaming for that matter.

  • My parents raised 5 children on the second floor of a two-family house. When we were really little, my grandparents lived downstairs, which was nice. I think my parents weren’t as concerned with us making noise since family was underneath us, and we were in their apt alot anyways. After my grandparents passed away, my parents chose tenants who were young married couples and/or also had small kids, I’m sure partly because they wanted people who were okay with kids being around, playing in the yard, making noise, etc.

    It’s understandable that you are trying to be a good neighbor, but I doubt the two women are bothered by the toys – in fact, they probably are enjoying having a young family around!