Urban living: high density neighborhoods and noise

You know when you’re in a good mood and then a bunch of stuff happens and you suddenly feel like you need to withdraw, go someplace to be alone, recharge?

I went outside to hang the laundry when my mood changed. Flipped like a light switch from pleasantly content to irked and beyond. Had to get away from clutter and stuff and laundry baskets and crumbs and soccer on tv or else I was going to get into one of my rants.

Hanging laundry next to the guinea pig pen, and the birdhouse, and my flowers in my raised herb garden bed was going to be my calming action.

It did not help. Even though hanging laundry is a form of low impact exercise, which is supposed to be good for you. Right? Stretch to hang it up, bend down to pick it up, move a few steps this way, then that way…

It wasn’t calming.

We live in an old neighbourhood. Many of the original homes were built along here at the turn of the century and boomed a little after each war, when the men came home from battle. The homes were originally used as vacation properties, since we live along the shores of Lake Ontario, with beaches, parks and little forests. The bungalows are small by today’s standards, but if not built on the shores of the lake then within a few minutes walk. This is part of the appeal, now. Never mind small…

It’s a lovely little corner in the south west end of Toronto.

We live in such a home. Ours was built in 1949 and we renovated it by taking down walls and modernizing it to make it feel bigger, and most importantly, more functional and practical.

But our neighbourhood is what one would classify as high density. Not as high density as other neighbourhoods in Toronto, partly because many homes (not all) have driveways. These driveways separate the homes from each other by more than a width of a car.

So unlike other neighbourhoods, if I stick my arm out the window, I cannot reach the other house because there’s a driveway separating us from them. On both sides.

Still is a fairly high density neighbourhood. Because the houses are relatively close together and there are a lot of them.

What this means is that if some idiot decides to blare music inside his house with the windows open, we can all hear it. Worse, if he puts the speakers outside for some party, the noise travels across a quarter of the neighbourhood.

We have such an idiot in our neighbourhood. There is no rhyme or reason to his parties, no pattern that alerts us that, say, Saturday night is upon us and they’ll party, because he just tunes is up whenever he feels like it without any concern whatsoever for anyone else.

Canadians, I’ll have you know, are polite people. If it bothers someone else, they won’t say. God forbid someone issues a complaint…it’s almost unheard of.


13 years ago when my son was born, we initiated the proper complaint making with the city people. We had lived in the house for a number of years before the first baby came along and it became apparent that this music blaring was going to be a thing. So we followed their lengthy and time consuming procedures.

Side note: the city is particularly bureaucratic I’ll have you know; just to find the link to take you to the complaints form in their website takes upwards 30 minutes, given how much text you have to read through first.

We followed their rules. Each time we heard the noise we had to go to our little note pad, mark down date and time, when it started, when it ended…a complete log.

I had an infant at the time. Shortly after that, another one. Each time I sat outside with them, trying to calm them, I had to get up and make a stupid note on a stupid log for the stupid city people.

We did this for two years.

Then we gave up.

One day the idiot neighbour climbed up top of his shed near our fence and asked us if we complained. We said yes. We said:

“Well we tried to talk to you but you called us a fucking asshole.” (I’m paraphrasing)

He said he got some letter and they’re threatening him with a fine and that it isn’t neighbourly behaviour and yada yada.

Neighbourly behaviour? (idiot)

“No one else ever complained”, he said. He pointed to all the houses and mentioned how long he’s known them.

Most are older people, and I rarely see them outside, probably because of his noise. We too approached some of them, because the city said that it would help if we had others with the same complaint.

Most didn’t want to ’cause trouble’. So they hid inside, watching their beautiful porches and flower gardens from behind curtains and blinds.

My next door neighbour, whom he called a friend, personally told me she had mentioned it to them many times to turn down their music. This is not what he said to me. But I knew she had a new boyfriend who lived out of town and she wasn’t around much. She had been a home owner for as long as the idiot (30 years at the time) and she was a lovely, elderly lady whose word I tend to take as more accurate than the idiot. But to be bothered by the music you have to be home, and she wasn’t, not much. (She’s move away now into a smaller condo.)

So over the years we stopped spending time outside. Our back yard is a mess and no one cares but me. I still care. I like gardening and veggies and flowers and a pen for the guinea pigs and when the kids were small we had a little pool, and a sandbox…


So when they started up again blaring the music just recently, I emailed the city back. I said in a short email that their method to control noise makers isn’t working and that we’re still waiting for action from them ten years later, and what are we paying all these taxes for when they do nothing?

They said they have larger than usual volume on complaints.

Ha. Times are a-changin’…

This is not my problem. My problem started 10 years ago and if a simple letter with a threat to fine them doesn’t work, the idiot will, like some wayward toddler (or teenager) continue with their trouble making. He knows the threatening letter won’t come to fruition.

I wrote the city back and told them I expect them to provide us with a solution immediately. I tweeted the city councilor as well.

The city is more concerned about paper pushing than action. They want me, and the neighbours, to make a list, to log the noise, do all this work etc. We did this ten years ago and we are still in the same situation, so tell me how this is solving the problem.

The husband wants to move out of the city and find property on 50 acres. This means changing schools for two kids, and all their activities they’re rooted in. One kid is on the threshold of highschool.


Right now both kids are independent and able to take the city transit to and from many places in the neighbourhood. If we move out of the city the 13yo will need a car at 16 because no way am I going to drive him to every buddy or girlfriend at all hours of the day, for the foreseeable future. Same with the other one.

My aging parents are 25 minutes away. If we move north of the city (where larger properties exist) we’ll be two or more hours away from them. One way.

Plus, if we suddenly can’t afford two cars anymore in the near future (it could happen), we live walking distance to all major stores we need for survival. We have transit up the street that takes us to trains and airports.

There are perks to living in the city.

I’m not keen uprooting the family now. I was when both kids were under grade 3…but now? At age 13 and almost 11? Going into grade 8 and 6?

The man is crazy. 😉 I get it, but still…

I’m very on the fence.

High density living is doable if neighbours treat each other with respect.

But it only takes one asshat.

We have one across the backyard.


19 thoughts on “Urban living: high density neighborhoods and noise

  1. Oooh doesn’t it just make your blood boil! We live for 18 months next to one such individual. I don’t think I could have handled 13 years of it! The music was so loud there was nowhere to escape it in our entire house. It thudded through the walls. It forced us to turn the telly up just to hear the thing. One Sunday it went for 12 hours!! It gave me migraines and me so stressed and angry. We called the police occasionally, when it got really bad. We tried contacting the council and I think they did send him a letter. It helped only marginally – he would ease off for a few weeks, then right back to it. We could never enjoy a “peaceful” sunny weekend because that was his peak offending time. Some people! Honestly!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! My mood swings always catch me off guard. I feel fine… and then I don’t. I appreciate you posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After an adult decade of high-density suburban living, I moved out to the middle of nowhere, which is a nightmare I’m still solving. Two years ago my mom deeded the family home to my daughter and me jointly, where we’re now living in the midst of 36 acres of very quiet bliss. Somewhere, my late dad is very happy to have his girls together under the roof he raised 45 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have very close backyards too but our problem is mainly barking dogs, not loud party noises. If there are parties going on, all the neighbors are usually invited. Bummer that your neighbor is not a considerate one. Stopping by on the recommendation of Shelley at Quaint Revival. Nice to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the visit! Yes I always feel sorry for the dogs that bark endlessly, as well as the neighbors. Means they’re probably neglected and/or under exercised. The dogs, not the neighbors. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “We have such an idiot in our neighbourhood.”
    Ah, I loved this post. I know you must be incredibly frustrated and torn with decisions. But at least your sense of humor is in tact!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So sorry you have to deal with that nonsense. Yes, living in the country is quiet, but it has its drawbacks.

    I have to drive half an hour (minimum) to get to any actually decent shopping, and then it’s only decent. The good shopping is over an hour drive.

    The internet service out here? It is laughable when 6 megs of download is considered “high-speed” internet, and positively ludicrous that data is capped at some ridiculously low # of gigs that is about enough for checking email and absolutely nothing more.

    Forget relying on your cell phone, because signal strength is poor on a good day, and nonexistent more often than not. It does no good to have a smartphone capable of wifi calling if your internet speeds suck & your data cap is minuscule.

    Have a doctor’s appointment? Might as well go ahead and save all your errands for that day, and pray you don’t need a specialist because you REALLY gotta drive to get to one of those.

    TV? You best not cut the cord, because there is very very little over-the-air channels that actually reach our antenna (and our antenna is actually mounted on a tower, FFS). We get 3 channels most days, 6 on an exceptionally good day (and most of the channels we get have the EXACT same weather people, so you better hope they’re really really good at their job.

    I could go on, but I think I’ve given you enough ammunition for the next time this 50 acres thing comes up.😉😙

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hate this sort of thing. Selfishness and lack of consideration for others. Drives me nuts. May be plug away with your local authority. One day they will probably get round to it. Don’t think you should let this person drive you to move until you are good and ready. Meantime – ear plugs in the garden? 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Even in the outskirts of cities, we deal with those things. We are very lucky with our neighbors but we have had issues in the past when living in apartments. Sometimes when neighbors grow up, they get better as they get older.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When my son was born, some idiots decided to build a motor cross track in a farm field next to our neighbors house. It was loud and dusty every evening and weekend. It attracted kids from an hour away. Sometimes there would be 10 kids out there revving around. It drove us crazy!! This continued for a couple years. Enough people complained that the town chairman came out. The kids cocked off to him and that was the end of it. But even country living doesn’t insulate you from inconsiderate jerks. What a shame!! How rude!! I say time to have a loud party at 5 AM. Doesn’t sound like your other neighbors would complain.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Blah. I like living in the city with kids…they are forced to be more independent. I’ve gotten used to the noise and density, but yeah…sometimes I just want to sit on a lounge chair in my yard and read….

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oy…that sounds terrible! I have a sudden over appreciation for our peaceful yard – only it can be loud too when the jump planes fly at the neighborhood airport on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I hope you find relief from the neighborhood ars soon!

    Liked by 2 people

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