Problems with neighbors can often destroy a person’s quality of life.
Slamming car doors, barking dogs, overgrown trees hanging over your roof. These are all minor in the big scheme of things, but can drive you crazy.
There are many instances in which people finally snap and wind up in the local police log, but usually these frustrations are suffered in silence. That doesn’t make the problems any less impactful to quality of life.
HSH.com surveyed 1,001 Americans about their biggest annoyances about their neighbors. We gave respondents a list of possible annoyances and asked them to choose the top five and rank them from 1 to 5.
We found that “noisy neighbors” (63 percent ranked it in their top five) edged out “too close” (61 percent) as the biggest neighbor annoyances. Both owners and renters chose noisy neighbors as their biggest complaint.
“Your neighbors want you to know a secret: Since you can’t move your house further away, you can at least try to keep the noise down to a respectful level – and that includes your kids, your vehicles and your pets too,” says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com in Riverdale, New Jersey.
Kimberly O’Neil Mara, CPA, Realtor at Century 21 Spindler & O’Neil Associates in North Reading, Massachusetts, says noisy neighbors are more concerning for people looking to buy a condo rather than a single-family home. She says she advises condo buyers to find out what type of insulation was used in the floors, ceilings and floors.
“I also suggest checking with the management company/association about rules and regulations. Some have quiet hours, others require a certain percentage of floors to be carpeted to minimize hearing clanking shoes and especially heeled boots of your neighbors simply walking above you,” says O’Neil Mara.
It seems that noise is a problem from the start for many. “Noisy neighbors” were the biggest annoyance for those surveyed who have lived in their homes from 1 to 10 years. That frustration appears to subside with time. The top annoyance for those who have lived in their homes 10 years or more is homes being “too close.”
“You can know a lot about your home and neighborhood before you buy, but you can’t know everything, such as whether they are night owls or not, or have choppers stored in the garage they ride on weekends. You often don’t learn these things until you’ve lived there for at least a while, and you may have to learn to live with some of them,” says Gumbinger.
Regionally, all areas chose “noisy” as the biggest annoyance except for the Northeast, which picked “too close.” Noise and being too close often go hand-in-hand, but Northeast respondents chose too close likely because parts of the Northeast have some of the highest population density in the nation.
Great fences make great neighbors
When it comes to how to resolve noisy neighbors and homes being too close, O’Neil Mara gives people the old advice about fences and neighbors.
“If that is an issue, I always refer to the old saying ‘great fences make great neighbors’ and suggest installing one as soon as they move into the house. It is always much less awkward to do so as part of your original plan than it is to do once you get to know your neighbors and then decide to fence them out,” she says.