4th floor or higher (preferred: 6th floor or higher, esp. if over a non-tiny street)

2 parking spots, no tandem, covered (or at least in a quiet, not crimeprone street), next to each other, able to raise trunk, not in an out of the way place prone to crime, proximate to entrance (ie short path to room) (and proximate to mail room)

double window panes if near noise eg street

proximity to where management lives on-site

not near loading dock or where garbage truck parks

if facing west, shady windows

lots of airflow

old place dimensions of my room:

59 + 47.5 = ~107 inches from window to back of back desk 83 inch from sidewall to other side of side desk bed 77 inc by 56 in wall o stuff next to bed 56 in by 44 in 76inch from window to front of drawers, which is also length of secondary wall o stuff

forum discussions on finding quiet apartments:

I wrote about this on Quora [1] some time ago. Here are the highlights on some ways to check if the unit you're touring has an above average acoustical design without just making noise in an adjacent unit:

(1) Is the floor construction concrete and steel or a wood joist system. The concrete/steel building type is preferred. A caveat is if it is a "loft" style with no ceiling (drywall, etc) and is open to the concrete structure for reasons I'll describe at the end.

(2) Ask if the apartment building was designed to convert to condos at some point. If the potential conversion was known during design, an acoustics professional may have been involved.

(3) Is the space marketed as "luxury?" While dangerous to trust marketing this much, if legitimately so, should have "above norm" acoustical separation between spaces.

(4) Pull a wall plate off a switch that's in a demising wall between units and look for fiberglass in the wall cavity around the edges of the backbox. You may be able to knock on walls and tell if they're hollow or fiberglass filled. If you find two layers of drywall between the plate and backbox, that's a good sign.

(5) Often the bathroom/toilet plumbing is along the corridor wall in newer buildings. Can you hear the water running from the corridor? If so, you can expect to hear the neighbors' plumbing above your unit too. Listen for water hissing in the walls while you run the kitchen sink.

Yes there's noise through walls from adjacent neighbors, but be aware of impact noises above. If floors are hard (not carpet) expect to hear footfall noise unless a resilient underlayment was properly installed in the units and/or the ceiling is isolated in the unit below. If the unit has hardwood floors, check for a gap between the baseboard trim and the floor by running a business card between. If it doesn't fit, then the resilient floor is compromised and your neighbors below are likely to hear your footfalls, and chances are you will hear your neighbors' above too.



turar 1 day ago

At this point, if I ever have to look at living in apartments/condos again, I will limit my search only to concrete high rise buildings. Which usually means at least 8 floors or taller -- I don't think it's possible to build that tall with plywood garbage.


15353535 1 day ago

I lived in a concrete high rise recently and it wasn't very nice. It didn't feel like a home, more like an office. There was noise from the plumbing and the car park was so noisey I couldn't use it because the ventilation system was almost as loud as a jet engine.

I am moving into a brand new 3 story building made with concrete slab floors and masonry block walls. It has nice high ceilings and I got the best corner with only 1 shared wall, lots of Windows and natural light, and quiet street. Unfortunately, it is very rare to find an apartment this good.


robmiller 1 day ago

Honestly, I would too. Having plywood subfloors might be ok if they topped it with gypcrete, but living with floor squeaks and footfalls from another tenant above is no fun.

Plywood has it's place in economical housing that's earthquake safe. The shame is just if the market rent is high enough that better construction could have been afforded by the developer in the first place.


seanmcdirmid 1 day ago

Sounds like the entire of Japan, no wonder you have to take your shoes off before entering. All in China is concrete, I don't think I've ever heard my neighbors above me. However, I remember in my old place, they had a small dog and I heard his paws all the time. Never people feet, just paws (well, we are supposed to take off our shoes here also, floors are all hardwood, no carpet in the entire country).


amalag 1 day ago

Gypcrete is better than plain old floors and probably the best that can be done with wood framing.


lgieron 1 day ago

That won't be enough unfortunately - a lot of solid brick/concrete buildings have cheap non-load-bearing walls.


timcederman 1 day ago

Or do what I used to do - just ask the neighbours what the noise is like.


kuschku 1 day ago

What for buildings that are brick-on-mortar?


robmiller 1 day ago

I presume this is the exterior facade? What's the interior construction?


kuschku 1 day ago

Chalk-Sandstone bricks on common mortar interior, it’s the most common interior construction here.

The exterior is clay bricks on mortar.


robmiller 20 hours ago

I'm not familiar with the details of this construction, but in general massive building materials (concrete, CMU, brick) are your friend. The risks are penetrations through these materials for pipes and electrical conduit or other openings at the top of wall.

It would make for a good blog post to talk about how mass relates to sound blocking between spaces and how we've learned to "hack" wall partitions using mass-air-mass assemblies (like standard drywall walls) instead of just mass alone.