Imagine finding the perfect apartment building, but the only unit for rent is on the first floor.
Before you look elsewhere, consider whether living on the ground level is that bad.
Why First-Floor Apartments Are Noisier:
First-floor apartments can be noisier. Units on the first floor are more susceptible to noise pollution from the street, nearby neighbors, or even those residing above. However, numerous strategies are available to reduce noise pollution to make this living situation easier.
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How Much Do First-Floor Apartments Hear Traffic and Pedestrians?
I’d say the amount of traffic and pedestrians you hear depends on where your apartment building is.
For example, I lived in an apartment complex, and my building was near the back.
I didn’t hear any traffic from the parking lot. I was also at the back of the building, so I didn’t hear any traffic from pedestrians passing on the sidewalk outside of the building.
And while my building backed up to the street, there was a huge hill between the building and the street.
So even as cars drove by, they were much higher than my unit, so I hardly ever heard anything.
But if you live in a first-floor apartment right by a sidewalk and a street, you’ll probably hear a lot of traffic.
Do First-Floor Tenants Get More Noise From Staircases?
Once again, the answer will depend, but this time, it varies based on the location of your unit in the building.
In my last first-floor apartment, I lived in the back corner of the building.
While I wasn’t exactly far from the stairs, my unit wasn’t right next to them either. I didn’t ever hear anyone when they went up or down the stairs.
However, the unit next to mine was pretty close to the stairs.
I’d guess they could hear when people took the stairs, especially considering they weren’t the most stable or quiet.
What Apartment Floor Is Generally the Quietest?
I’ve only ever lived on the first floor in an apartment building, but I’d say the top floor has to be the quietest.
For one, the only traffic up there comes from the residents of those units and their guests.
You also don’t have to worry about noise from people in the unit above you. In college, my dorm room was on the top level of livable rooms, so while there was a room above me, I didn’t have to deal with noise in that way.
Now, it could also depend on the residents and where people live within the building.
Some people may naturally make more noise than others, such as families with young kids or people with dogs, so the top floor could be as noisy as the ones below.
What Apartment Floor Is Generally the Noisiest?
If you live on the first floor, you have to deal with more traffic and noise.
Everyone has to come and go from the building somehow.
However, it could also depend on where the entrance is and how the building is set up. The door to my old apartment was on a landing between the first and second floors.
So while I lived on the first floor, the people that came down there were other people that lived on my floor.
Yes, the laundry room was also down there, but I rarely heard anyone come down to use it.
If you live in a similar building, none of the floors may be all that loud. The landing may help reduce 0r eliminate any noise problems.
Do Apartments at Ground Level Typically Have Noise-Reducing Windows?
Like many other factors, I’d assume that some ground-level apartments have noise-reducing windows but not all. Sure, my unit wasn’t near a sidewalk or the parking lot.
However, I could hear the maintenance team mowing the grass outside my window. It wasn’t the loudest, so maybe the windows kept some of the noise out.
If you’re concerned, don’t be afraid to ask your current or potential landlord about noise-reducing windows.
Then, you can determine if you’ll be able to enjoy peace and quiet in your apartment.
Do Apartment Buildings Get Quieter the Further Up You Go?
Apartment buildings are probably quieter the further up you go.
The biggest reason for this is that fewer people have to go up to the highest floors.
You’ll also have less to worry about when it comes to noise from units above you. Of course, if you luck into the top unit, you won’t have anyone making noise from a higher floor.
However, you may still have to deal with noise from other units on that level.
One of my apartment neighbors occasionally made a lot of noise that passed through the walls rather than the floor and ceiling.
Noise-Related Tips for Living in a First-Floor Apartment
If you currently live on the first floor in an apartment building, you may face a lot of noise.
Or maybe you don’t, but you never know what may happen when you get new neighbors.
Either way, consider some of my best tips for dealing with noise when in a first-floor apartment.
Consider Blackout Curtains
Assuming you can hang stuff on the walls, consider hanging some blackout curtains over your windows.
Obviously, they can help block out light, which is nice if you like to sleep in late or nap during the day.
However, they can also be useful for blocking sound from the outside. Look for curtains made with super thick fabrics or even multiple layers of fabric.
Then, you can use the curtains to keep from hearing too much noise if you live near a sidewalk, street, or parking lot.
Cover the Gaps Around Your Door
When you’re at home, you can add some blankets or towels over the gap beneath the door to your apartment. This isn’t the best long-term solution since you have to reset it every time you get home.
However, it can be nice if you live near the front door or stairs and deal with a lot of noise that way.
You can also use the towels or blankets only when you need them, such as around the beginning or end of the day when there’s more foot traffic.
Hang Out Towards the Back
Another option for when you’re home is to spend most of your time closer to the back of your apartment.
This may mean adding a comfortable chair to your bedroom or moving your couch to the other side of the living room.
Either way, the farther you are from your front door, the less noise you’ll hear from outside of your apartment.
Similarly, if your next-door neighbor causes a lot of noise, you can spend more time on the opposite side of the unit. Then, you can at least reduce the amount of noise you hear when you want to relax at home.
First-Floor Apartment-Hunting Tips
Maybe you’re looking for a new apartment, and there’s a chance you’ll end up on the first floor.
As you tour different units, keep a few things in mind.
That way, you can determine if an apartment complex or unit will work for you.
Look for a Rear Unit
Look for apartments with available units toward the back or away from the stairs when possible.
As I mentioned, my apartment wasn’t right by the stairs.
It was also a corner unit, so two of the walls didn’t have any apartment next to them. Also, the one wall that was next to another unit was the wall containing my kitchen and bathroom.
That made it a lot easier to enjoy quiet time in my living room or bedroom.
In those spaces, the only real concern was from the unit above me, and they weren’t a problem until the last month I lived there.
Consider What Modifications You Can Do
Assuming you’re renting rather than buying, you should ask the landlord or property manager about making changes.
You could add blackout curtains, for example.
Or maybe you can put soundproofing material on the walls. If you’re buying an apartment or condo, ask if you can replace the door, especially if the current one is hollow.
Ask About Noise Complaints
If you know what unit you might live in, ask the manager if the current or previous tenants have often complained about noise.
Ask for details, such as whether the noise comes from the hall or another unit.
You’ll also want to know the most problematic times of the day. If the noise mostly happens during waking hours, that may not be an issue, but if it gets loud at night, you may struggle to fall asleep.