After living for 4 years in a spacious and modern, but also cold, dark and damp, basement flat in Germany, I said “Nie wieder Untergeschoss!”—in other (English) words, I vowed I would never again live in what is euphemistically referred to by UK estate agents as a “lower ground floor flat.”
Having now spent 3 years living downstairs from a variety of neighbors ranging from moderately irritating to utterly unbearable, I once again say “Nie wieder!” When we were looking for a new flat, my top priority—the one thing I would not budge on no matter what—was that we would not have anyone living above us. This immediately ruled out a lot of really nice-looking flats, but every time I found myself wavering in my determination, I imagined our horrible former upstairs neighbor (“Stumpy”) living above me in one of those nice-looking flats, and suddenly the flat looked like a prison cell.
I admit that I’m more sensitive to certain types of ambient noise than your average person. Some things I can tune out (car alarms) and other things I can tolerate (distant music), but what I cannot stand is the continuous thunking, thonking, banging and scraping of an “active” upstairs neighbor. A bit of footfall is to be expected, of course, but when the noise is always there, it drives me nuts. Even noise-canceling headphones don’t block out noise like that, because it reverberates across the ceiling and down the walls, turning our flat into a giant, resonating kick drum.
Our current upstairs neighbors (“The Elephant Man” and his companion) aren’t nearly as bad as Stumpy, but they still engage in lots of inexplicable marching-back-and-forth, punctuated with the occasional dropping-something-heavy-on-the-ground or pushing-something-large-across-the-floor. I find it aggravating to the point of madness, and for this reason (among many others), I am counting the days until we leave here and move into our new place.
It’s sad in a way because this is a lovely flat and I’ve had really good times in it. I adored this flat unreservedly for the first year we lived here. We then went through a rough patch when we thought we had to move, and even when it subsequently turned out that we didn’t have to move, I felt somewhat cooler towards the place after that because I had mentally prepared myself for leaving it. And then just a month after that, Stumpy moved in upstairs and I started wishing we had moved.
Well, now we are moving, and while there will probably be different types of aggravation in our new place, the one aggravation I won’t have to put up with is someone stomping around above my head all day—unless, of course, our loft space is haunted, in which case I just hope the ghosts have a light footfall.