Friday August 25 2023
Share housing is great: you get to meet lots of people from all walks of life, live in some great places, and broaden your experience of the world. What’s not to love?
Noisy flatmates, for one. Most of us are fairly considerate of our flatties, but it seems like there’s always one who’s noisier (or quieter!) than everyone else in the house. Just how do you tell them to pipe down? Or if you’re the quiet one, how do you convince your flatmates to reduce the noise so the situation’s liveable — and even lovable?
Here are our top 10 tips for dealing with noisy flatmates. The solutions that will work best for you will depend on the nature of the noise, and why it’s giving you grief, but hopefully you’ll find a handful of good ideas in this list.
Of course, the first and most obvious step when someone is bothering you with their noise is to ask them — politely and in a friendly way, natch! — to keep it down. This might work for movie-watching and loud conversations, but is probably a challenge if your flatmate’s band practices in your garage. In any case, explaining why the noise is a problem for you is likely to help your argument. It also opens the door to a compromise…
Once you’re talking with your noisy flatmate, they might suggest a compromise that addresses your worries and lets them keep making a bit of noise — for example, they finish the last hour of that explosion-riddled action flick and go to bed, or take their noisy conversation into the backyard. Agreeing on a compromise is a good way to be reasonable and keep things sweet with your flattie, so if they don’t suggest one, you certainly should.
If you don’t have any already, set some ground rules for noisy and quiet times can help harmonise the different lifestyles in your share house. Talk with your flatmates — not just the noisy ones — about what they need in terms of quiet time, and what they’d like to be able to do without worrying about noise. Then see where you can agree to help each other. Scheduling noisy times to certain hours of the day, or restricting noise to certain parts of the house can be good places to start.
Great news! You can procure perfectly serviceable earplugs for less than the price of a coffee, and trust us: they’re gonna save your sleep and your sanity. If you have a little more cash to splash, look at noise-cancelling headphones or a white noise machine, both of which can smooth out loud, sudden noises as well as ongoing sounds like music, motors or power tools. Earplugs and white noise machines are especially good for helping you get to sleep, and stay there.
Sometimes, avoiding the noise is the best option. If your flatmate’s holding a party on Saturday night and you know you need to be up early for work on Sunday, consider staying over at a quiet friend’s house. If your flattie has choir practice every Saturday afternoon in your living room, make sure you have plans during that time (think: study, exercise, or socialising). Doing something productive or fun with the time when your place is ultra-noisy is an excellent way to make lemonade out of the noisy-house lemon.
No, we’re not suggesting you glue egg cartons to the walls. Here we’re talking about simpler solutions to muffle sound, such as using door and window seals (they keep out noise as well as draughts), heavy curtains, and rugs. You might suggest the same to your noisy flatmate: someone walking on boards above your room can keep you awake, or wake you up needlessly. But something as simple as an op-shop carpet could solve the problem instantly.
Like white noise, music you love played at a level that lets you focus on it without it overwhelming you can help block out your flatmate’s noise. You might play it through a speaker, but to make it really easy on yourself, headphones or even earbuds can help to physically block external noise, and that helps you focus on the music you’re playing, too. Ideally, choose something upbeat, relaxing or, if you’re a podcast buff, captivating. That’ll make it even easier for you to focus on the good sounds, rather than the bad.
Alright, so your flatmate has a noisy Xbox hangout at yours seemingly every single Saturday. You’re a home body and you don’t want to have to go out every time she has her mates over. What to do? Make the most of those noisy hours. Do the vacuuming. Practice your tuba. Call all your friends on speaker phone. Build that chest of drawers you’ve been dreaming of. Polish your break-dance routine. Whatever you do that makes noise, do it when they’re being noisy. Problem solved!
Ever heard the saying, “A weed is a plant in the wrong place”? Well, you can think of noise in a similar way. Maybe you don’t like Doja Cat (weird) but your flattie plays her full-bore every night after work. Best Friend blaring at 6pm on a Tuesday probably isn’t worth complaining about (or is it?), so your best option may be to change your attitude to the noise.
Some mediation techniques can help with this, as they teach you to associate good feelings with the sound, or bring your attention to something else that’s positive or uplifting for you. It might seem like a lot of work, but once you learn the techniques, you can apply them to a range of things you feel negatively about (including pain, fear, and so on), so they’re pretty handy.
It’s Saturday afternoon, your flatmate’s having her Xbox hangout and you failed to make any plans. Whoops! Should you be the proverbial wet blanket on her Saturday fun times, or would you perhaps like to try your hand at Xbox yourself? Give it a go! The same applies to your flatmate’s band practice in the garage: why not grab a cold drink, head to the yard, and enjoy the free gig? If you can’t beat ‘em, you don’t have to join ‘em, but some flexibility could go a long way to helping keep things friendly and fun in your share house. Coz at the end of the day, you both want to be a good housemate.