Whether you’re listening to the sound of drunk college kids crying right outside your Lower East Side window, or laying awake to the sound of big, metal delivery truck doors being slammed shut just outside the door to your Chinatown apartment there’s something New Yorkers can all agree upon – New York City is a noisy place.
Even Upper East Side or Brooklyn dwellers have their own noise as no neighborhood is truly safe from the sweet sounds of urban living. Many New Yorkers even find comfort in the sirens and garbage truck sounds filling their head as they relax in their small, personal sanctuary. For most of us, it is a nuisance that comes with city living.
For those of you living in a particularly lively neighborhood like Hell’s Kitchen, East Village or Williamsburg, or in an apartment that is on or close to the street level, there are some things you can do to deal with the NYC noise.
Insulate Walls and Windows
You may think you have no control over how insulated your pre-war apartment walls are but there are things you can do from the inside that can absolutely help muffle the street noise. For instance, place bookshelves or large pieces of furniture on the walls where most of the noise comes from. The added items on a thin wall can help block out the sounds coming through.
Windows are also a huge source of noise seeping into your apartment from the street. Make sure to purchase some very thick blinds and curtains. Some stores like IKEA even make reasonably priced noise canceling curtains. On top of blocking the noise, it will keep the harsh sun out during the Sunday morning hangovers.
If you’re really struggling to deal with the NYC noise while you sleep, cut some sheets of acoustic foam to fit your windows and place them in before you go off to sleep. This will help block noise while you sleep but won’t require you to make permanent changes within your unit.
Block Noise with Noise
For those of you that can sleep through noise but are startled by the NYC sounds, try sleeping to other sounds. People often use white noise or nature sound machines to keep the sounds consistent and pleasant and to cover up more annoying sounds like sirens, garbage trucks and shouting.
Sometimes the small act of running a fan or window air conditioner while you sleep is enough to muffle the other sounds, depending on how close you are to the street and how noisy your neighborhood can be.
Keep Noise from Amplifying
Most NYC apartments that were built in the early 1900s are outfitted with hardwood floors and little insulation. To keep noise from echoing through your apartment, add objects around your place will absorb the noise. The curtains we mentioned will help but it’s not a bad idea to invest in some heavy carpets for your living spaces.
You’d be surprised how much sound travels throughout your apartment without carpeting or window coverings. If you live in an apartment with a neighbor below you, they will thank you as well. It’s likely they are hearing your every move if you don’t have anything between your steps and the bare hardwood floors.
There are an unlimited number of amazing things about living in this crazy city of ours, so a little noise is just one of the small sacrifices we make to live in this concrete jungle of dreams we call New York City. If all else fails you can always throw in a pair of trusty earplugs to get some shuteye. After all, this is the city that never sleeps.