Housing Dilemma--Seeking Advice

winnowingNovember 16, 2005

Kind readers, I need some help from those with more experience than I. I am facing a dilemma about whether to move into a bright, sunny apartment as opposed to continuing to live in a small free standing, isolated house which lacks sunlight but is about as private and peaceful as it gets.

I've never lived in an apartment but I've always been a renter. I'm blessed to choose between two good places with big pro's and con's. The apartment is a four plex and it is an upstairs unit and the next door neighbors are all very nice people but there are a lot of them. Families, young children, enthusiastic dogs, lots of friends coming and going, lots of dinner parties. So it is loud. Super thin walls, lots of sound carrying across, and so on.

I'm concerned about my ability to adjust to what seems like lots of noise and lots of activity all around the immediate area of the apartment after having my own private space, inside and out, for so many years. Also adjusting to being more aware of the sounds I make. Right now I can pretty much make as much sound as I want at any hour of the day or night without worry of impacting anyone else.

So I'm looking for opinions from those who have "been there, done that." I'm wondering what your opinions are about the value of privacy and freedom from worry about noise in a small, somewhat cramped and very dark house versus the value of light, beautiful views, and maybe a greater sense of spaciousness in an apartment.

The main issue is light, and warmth. The apartment is at a higher elevation than the house...there is probably a 5 to 10 degree temperature difference between the two, which gives the house an advantage in the summer of course but it's a lot chillier in the winter. If I stay in the house I'll be back with questions about how to lighten it up and deal with the problem areas (such as itty bitty kitchen, among others).

Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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Kind person..I myself am a long time apartment dweller . I just moved to a quieter neighborhood and complex. There is one noisy piece of crap downstairs, but he is hardly ever home. No if ands or buts you should stay in the house if you are wooried about your piece of mind. its hits or miss with apartments..even if the neighbors appear nice you never know when they are going to freak out, or who is going to move in. Also the situation you described does not sound too appealing (thin walls, many people.) You can paint the rooms in your house light colors to open it up,light colored rugs or flooring (this is what I did at my old place worked out nice) get good lighting, maybe mirrors on the wall to open it up. You are not used to apartment living that by itself is a big minus..these are my opinions the choice is up to you..good luck!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 1:16PM
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If you think it's likely that the noise will impact you negatively, I'd stick with the house. There's a lot you can do to brighten up the interior of the house, like goods suggested. Get a few more lamps, paint bright colors...privacy and quiet seem a lot more attractive than sunlight (although both are important) -- if you're desperate for sun, you can step outdoors for a little while. But dealing with noisy neighbors can be something that will impact you on a constant, daily level, and if you're not used to it, it may be very difficult to handle.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 7:37PM
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Wow....kind readers/posters....thank you so much for the advice. I find it really helpful and I really appreciate it. I'd just been struggling so much with this decision and your feedback is exactly what I needed to help me think about it more clearly. Your points make a lot of sense.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 3:27AM
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Another thing to consider that should not be overly expensive. If you are trying to get more light into your home, consider tubular skylights (in those rooms with a roof directly overhead). They can bring a lot of natural light into a home and shouldn't result in thousands and thousands of dollars to have installed.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 8:01AM
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If you have a chainsaw, you can get sunlight!

Prune back the shrubs, trim up the trees, or cut some down.

It's better than a noisy apartment.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 8:06AM
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are you all realizing that this is a RENTAL house?

she can't install a tubular skylight, and only maybe can she cut shrubs or trees down (she ought to be able to trim them).

I would say, stay in the house unless you can find a DIFFERENT apartment, in a place w/ thicker walls and floors, and a really good management that's picky about who lives there and who seems to be good a resolving disputes.

If the "isolated" is a problem for you, an apartment complex might be nice, but I wouldn't go to this one.

And, talk to the landlord about some landscaping possibilities; it's not necessarily good to have lots of shade on the house anyway, bcs you get fungal growth on the shingles, and there's the danger of trees falling on the house during storms and damaging the roof. I know my FIL cut down a few trees he felt were throwing too much shadow on his house.

I think it's interesting that you're worried about having to adjust to the anxiety of trying not to make too much noise. I've only lived in apartments as a grownup, and the noise of my neighbors has only rarely been a problem for me. And never an anger-inducing one (just one loud party here and there).

I've always said, the one thing that would make me leave an apartment would be having to worry about how much noise *I* make. I can stand my neighbor's noise, but if I have to be self-conscious every time my kids or I walk across the floor, I'm out of there!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 3:48PM
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Again, thanks for the help. I think I could install those tubular lights if I paid someone enough to make sure they did a great job. Of course I don't know if enough light hits the house for them to gather. But I'm leaning toward the house and toward thinking of whatever I might possibly do to increase light into the house. Loneliness can sometimes be an issue but actually I live withing walking distance of lots of people, so it is just a matter of taking a hike and going to those areas where social life is going on all hours of the day and night (uh, like in that apartment building).

Thanks again for your help; it was just what I needed. I get cranky from the darkness in my house but I do love the peacefulness of it, and I've never really put every ounce of effort I had into making it feel lighter.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 12:50PM
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I'd go nuts trying to sleep with so much traffic coming and going next door. And you say the walls are thin too? Agghh!!

It is much easier to brighten up a dark, but quiet house than to have to grit your teeth and count the days until your lease is up in a bright, noisy apartment. If you have a good landlord, he/she shouldn't mind if you are going to the trouble (or expense) to improve his/her investment. Here is a link with a couple of ideas.

Let There Be Light
Sensational ways to brighten your home

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 12:16AM
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Thanks for the link to the lighting suggestions, and thank you so much everybody for your thoughts and ideas. I have to say that as I sit here tonight and read, surf the net, type a response, I can't hear anything but an occasional car going by in the distance and the hum of my refrigerator...and the crackling of my fireplace. And my cat complaining softly that the room is too hot even though the complaints are filed while languidly rolling around on his back. No kids crying, no parents reprimanding, no music I don't feel like hearing. It's quiet. I gotta admit, it's quiet. Alright, alright, it's dark as hell, especially in winter, but it is quiet.

Funny how at night the darkness doesn't bother me a wit. But during the day it drives me batty. I guess I need my quota of sunlight and today I did get out for a hike, so maybe that's it.

The mirrors are a good idea...(per the link), as are the other lighting suggestions.

A friend is suggesting artificial sunlight from a special kind of light bulb. Anybody have experience with those?

Most gratefully, winnowing.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 12:32AM
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Winnowing - you don't really want to leave your cozy home where your kitty is so happy and you have your independence, do you?

Having been a frequent apartment renter and now, finally, a house owner, I can tell you that there is no comparison. I am also now a landlord, having inherited my mother's home in another state, which is managed for me by professionals.

I echo what others have said about your light problem. Try going to your landlord and asking him if he would be willing to repaint the interior of your house. If not, then ask him if you may do it yourself. Paint it a light but warm cream/ivory color throughout, after showing him the intended color. The heck with the loud, fashionable colors - nothing opens up a house like light walls. Paint the ceilings slightly lighter than the walls. This will lift and enlarge the rooms. Then hang some mirrors opposite various windows. You'll be amazed at how they also enlarge the room. If possible, have a lamp next to or in front of the mirror; this will almost double the reflected light. Light bulbs don't use lots of electricity, so you can leave some lamps on during the day when you're home. I don't know what your budget is, but also consider your window treatments. They should also be fairly light in color. The Country Curtains catalog has a very large selection of inexpensive window treatments. Other than plain light curtains, etc., you could consider light-toned florals and/or ticking stripes, which look very sharp, but also light in tone and attitude at the same time!

Now - doesn't that sound better than uncertain neighbors with noisy kids and barking dogs?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 4:48AM
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Hi Sable,

Thanks for your thoughts about the housing. I decided that for the moment, and this with the help of folks from this forum, I would stay in the house. Will look into your ideas about mirrors and paint and such....hopefully I'll be able to improve the space enough.

Thanks to you and everyone who has been so helpful!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 12:46PM
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