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Is Noisy Neighbors a prevalent issue in Turkey?

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vu8

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Hi there, I have lived in numerous US apartments and rented individual rooms within a house in the US. And the standard of living in terms of quietness can basically be described as non existent. Since the walls are made out of paper, and floorboards are as thin as a cardboard box, whenever the person on the other side of the wall uses a bass speaker, or whenever the inconsiderate or ignorant neighbors on top of me walks, or jumps, or runs, or drops things on the ceiling, or whenever the neighbors below me blasts his TV, it would be instant hell for me. The noise is loud, sporadic, and extremely unnerving. 

I know Turkish apartments are usually built out of bricks and concrete. But in your first hand experience, do Turkish neighbors made loud, or sporadic noise, or use a bass speaker, in your day to day life, as you could be disturbed by the noise from you day to day activity and your enjoyment of quietness?

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I know what you mean about most houses and apartments in the USA. They might have a wooden frame and some insulation, covered by drywall.

The Turkish apartments are made of a framework of reinforced concrete which bears the load of the building. The walls are made with lightweight bricks covered in plaster and paint.

bricks.jpg
Walls in Turkey are made of these bricks.

Personally, I always rent the top floor. In all of the apartments I've lived in (covering the last 20 years), I've never experienced a noise problem, except when somebody was shouting or practicing with a musical instrument. I can hear voices or other racket from downstairs sometimes, but not much, and then only when family is visiting. It never disturbs me. Other than that it's just an occasional thump now and then, or once in a while the sound of a power tool if somebody is making changes to their apartment.

The main source of noise is the stairwell. People coming and going on my floor or the one below it. And the sounds of the elevator. None of it is loud enough to bother me.

I should mention here that my apartment door is made of wood and it isn't well sealed around the edges. In a more typical and modern apartment you'll have a steel door which seals against its frame and blocks out a lot more noise.

I don't think you'll have a problem with noise in the apartments here.

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I have to disagree with Ken. While the quality of the apartments  can be good, noise from neighbours can be a real problem. People often stay up late talking loudly and watching TV at full volume, especially during holiday periods when up to 30 people might come and visit, kids are allowed to stay up late and run heavily thumping the floor while screaming loudly and neighbours stand out on their balconies having loud conversations on their phones or in groups, especially in summer. If you complain about the kids you get told they are just being children and if you ask the neighbours to be quieter they rudely ask you what business it is of yours. I've been lucky but have heard horror stories from other people living in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey. As Ken suggested either live on the top floor or spend a few evenings linering outside the building you are thinking of living in to get an idea what sort of people live there.

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What you said ma'am is pure fact! Every time I assume neighbors being nice, it never happens. It is always safer to assume neighbors not the fairy type than to regret having daily thumping noises and loud conversations at night. 

I will avoid any units that aren't top floor at all cost and try buy the ones with 2 or 3 floors within a building so if the neighbors get crazy, I can go upstairs to avoid the sleepless nights.

Gosh how I wish I can just have more money and buy say the entire 2nd highest and the highest two floors so I don't get to hear any noises lol!

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After reading what Goreme wrote I thought about the apartments I've lived in (all on the top floor). All of them were also in a building designed in a way that I had no next-door neighbors. The one I lived in where I did have next-door neighbors, they were a married couple with no children, and they didn't make much noise that I could hear. So my experience hasn't been typical. What Goreme said is more accurate.

I also remembered a few weeks ago, late at night, when I was talking on Skype too loudly. My downstairs neighbor started pounding on the ceiling! I quieted down after that.

You can get apartments on the top floor, called "çatı katı." They often have terraces as well, so you can barbecue without the smoke going into somebody else's house. I prefer these apartments also because I don't have to have cages on the windows, and because the only way in is through the front door, which is usually a steel one.

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This is also insanely valuable info uncle. I thought Turkish apts are built sturdy enough for the noise to be suppressed within each apartment unit. Apparently it's probably not very true. I guess Turkish apartment are not that much more sound proof than US paper boxes. 

Were you talking on Skype in the living room or in the bedroom? Especially since you were talking, which is using treble, not bass, neighbors especially shouldn't be able to hear you unless the sound insulation is really poor. 

Yeah I probably will have to buy a 2-3 floor or 2 floor 1 terrace daire in this scenario.

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Yesterday a friend of mine came over and we were discussing this topic and what we had written here. As far as my part, she said the walls aren't the issue. It's the neighbors.

She said she had regular problems with noisy neighbors, describing the situation the same way Goreme did.

There's a lot of shouting. Like people shouting from balcony to someone on the street or sidewalk. Or instead of ringing the bell on the outside door, they'll stand there and shout until someone comes out onto the balcony to see who it is. Then that parson starts shouting at the visitor.

I commented that I while the neighbors here made noise occasionally but it was mostly quiet, my friend said

"your place? Compared to mine, your place is so quiet the Dalai Lama could live here!"

So there's more proof that my experience with apartments isn't to be relied on.

When I was talking on Skype, I was using a new combination webcam-microphone on the top of my screen. Until then I had been using my smartphone with the earbuds and microphone. I think because the microphone was now a couple of feet away I thought I had to speak loudly, and didn't realize how loudly I was speaking until I heard the knocking. After that I started speaking at a normal voice and asked the person I was talking to if they could understand me, and they could. So I stopped the loud talk.

I reminded myself of people I see around town shouting into their mobile phones thinking it will improve the reception on the other end, as if they were using two cans and a string!

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8 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

So there's more proof that my experience with apartments isn't to be relied on.

Since we couldn't pick and choose after we made the purchase of the property, we are basically stuck. So what can we do during the selection of the property avoid this issue?

One thing I came up with is to only buy top floor units, and better, top floor units with 2-3 floors so if the bottom floor of the top floor unit gets too noisy I can just go to the 2nd or the 3rd floor. Any other suggestions? I know this is Turkey not Switzerland but I am a person who is very sensitive to noise and cannot handle any kind of bass speaker or loud music or TV.

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Check out this article on how to handle noise complaints:

https://www.apsiyon.com/blog/apartman-gurultu-yonetmeligi-sikayet-nereye-yapilir

You can use the Chrome browser with the Google Translate plugin to read it in English.

I had read somewhere that more modern apartments are being built with insulation in the walls. I haven't verified it, but you can ask your real estate agent about it. Also I would imagine you can get apartments with double-pane windows.

Being on the top floor I think is probably the best option. You'll have no sound of people walking around, dragging things, etc. above you.

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I have filed multiple noise complaints here in Nevada and Ohio to my landlords and the result has been non existent. And yes I think newer Apts in TR have better sound insulations. Better get them new ones lol, but

do you happen to know at which year did the Turkish construction authority start to require installation of sound insulation on buildings? @Ken Grubb

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It is possible to put (heat) insulation (mantolama) on the inside walls of your house, instead of outside. Whilst there will be a few issues with electrical sockets (outlets to you), this should help with the sound insulation, as well as keeping the place warm/cool

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I found a law about insulating buildings but it seems to only apply to government and commercial buildings, with the insulation being applied to the outside. Besides, the way the interior walls are made in apartments here, with brick, the only way you could add insulation to them is the way IbrahimAbi described.

It may be that the only way you can get the quiet environment you want is to buy a villa somewhere outside of the city.

Ultimately you'll have to wait until you get here to see what's available and what the situation is with those places.

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  • 3 months later...

I've been an expat in Turkey for 7 years. My first bad experience with neighbors was in dormitory in the university. There was a Turkish guy who didn't bother to put on his headphones while listening to his traditional Turkish music and he talked loudly with his Russian girlfriend every night. People playing guitars at night was common. We bought a residence unit. At first it was extremely peaceful. I was naive to think that it was because of the good sound insulation of the building (dorms had paper thin walls). The fact was that we were among the first residents of the new far from town building and its surrounding was mostly empty. After several years, now we are surrounded by other buildings and our building is full of residents. If you are someone sensitive to noise like me it is a living hell, especially during covid lockdown. Every morning I wake up with pounding noises that is non-stop until my neighbors leave their houses. My downstairs neighbor literally hit something heavy to the wall (I imagine) early in the morning and evening making me to have panic attacks. This made me to go door to door to find the source of that impact sound (I didn't know at that time). He denied it. Until fortunately they moved out and the sound stopped. My next door neighbor often pulls chairs with a lot of noise. My upstairs neighbor is the worst. He doesn't work outside much. He is home most of the time making lots of pounding noises (to be fair I'm not sure if he makes all of those pounding noises but most of them are coming when he's home), God knows what he is doing out of his boredom! There is a repeating hitting sound that is driving me crazy. Sometimes he plays music for hours on his bass system. I get headache and my ears hurt. I have become so desperate that I go a long distance in this hot weather to university to study. People are talking in their balcony after midnight, dogs are barking (fun fact: you can't sue someone for pet noise here), you can hear bass music sound from cars and surrounding buildings even at night, a guy has a habit of leaving his old car's loud engine running while he's talking on his phone out of his car for a long time, children's screaming (this is the least of my problems!), etc. I grew up in an independent house and I hate living apartment life but I have to.

You might ask if I have complained to the building director or not. Yes I have done it so many times. I have gotten two reactions: some of them think I'm overreacting and basically my neighbors have the right to do whatever they want because it is their house! Others say they can't do further than warning the neighbor and police will do the same. So basically I have to find a way to get used to it! To add to this, I'm living in an upper-class region of the city so I can't imagine how it is like to live in an average or bad neighborhoods! I came to conclude that, it is not that I have bad luck with my neighbors, but this is a cultural issue here. People can be wealthy, educated, and talk very civilized when you meet them (like my upstairs neighbor). But they don't seem to care about respecting their surrounding people's peace. You must be very lucky to have good neighbors because the walls here aren't going to save you from noise either. It has been 6 months that I'm living under constant stress and I'm counting days to finish my university and leave this place.

 

Edit: I forgot to mention this. And one time someone complained about our noise for bringing someone to repair the faucet in our bathroom can you believe that?!

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Woah that is surely a very bothersome experience indeed!

I guarantee you I'll experience the exact same thing if I purchase a unit with people above me or next to me, and it is simply frightening that people below us can still make our lives miserable.

So what do you plan to do in the future to avoid such noisy people?

Do you plan to either only by Mustakil Ev or do you think I will encounter less noise concerns if I buy a 2 floor top floor duplex daire?

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Wow nice to know that you're still following this topic although 4 months has passed from it. I've found this relatively new post by searching noisy turkish neighbors in google and decided to share my experience.

Yes if you are sensitive like me you'll most likely experience what I did. My only plan now is just to finish my Master's degree and escape somewhere else. I'm in a fight or flight mode right now.

If you have the money, Mustakil Ev definitely worth it. You can also buy at the topest floor to have less exposure. If you are going to stay short-term you can also buy units from a newly built building at the outskirts of the city. Until it becomes full, you can have a relaxed stay for a few years like us. Please check the walls by punching them. Notice if their inside is empty or not and whether sound easily travels through them. In our case, the walls inside the bathroom and the middle wall separating the bedroom from the living room were hollow inside and if you hit them the booming sound could go several units further. This makes it harder to locate the source of sound as I couldn't prove where the impact sound definitely came from until our downstairs neighbor moved out. At the end of the day you should be lucky with the kind of people that are living around you. A child free couple that work and spend their time outside most of the time are usually the best kind of neighbors one can get. Even though I'm also a single young man, but single and young people are more likely to bring their friends and make lots of noise. With couples with children, the children can be a source of noise. But I don't know, maybe I'm just stereotyping based on my few anecdotes and maybe a child free couple can also be noisy and vice versa about the others. Most of the people rent the units so different kinds of people are constantly moving out and moving in. At any rate I hope you won't encounter the hell I lived sir.

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Great insights my friend.

Yes I'll be more likely to look into the Top floor, Dublex Daire, because for the same amount of money, one can get a much larger and newer Apartman than a Mustakil Ev. Most Mustakil Ev at the 500k TRY range are either so old it looks like a WWII house, or they are very small... But yeah I'll definitely seriously consider Mustakil Ev as well as Daires that MUST be on the top floor, MUST have 2 floors so I have as little exposure to the noisey, unruly neighbors as I physically can. 

Here in the US the noise issue is just as if not more prevalent as TR. I had this noisy roommate who is in his 20s moving in to the house which has a room that I rented and he started blasting LOUD subwoofer 7 hours a day with his TV and his XBOX. The experience was literal living hell. That has taught me never trust any neighbors and never give oneself any chance to be subjected to neighbor's potential noise problems because you NEVER know who you will live next to. Even if you have a good neighbor they could move out anytime on a whim and voila the next one that moves in will blast his loud TV 24/7 just to make you lose your sanity.

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You're right sir. You will never know what mess they have hidden in the old houses that you need to spend extra cash to fix it (they even do it in new units!). My apartment's director also told me that I can insulate our unit with around 10K (I may be wrong about the exact price), so you may also insulate your house for extra proof although it will take some extra space on the surfaces that you want to insulate.

So sorry to hear about your experience. It's a shame that we are unwillingly packed with some jerks in shoe-box apartments. I never thought of silence to be such a blessing and I really miss living in an independent house. I wish you a peaceful life sir!

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Update: Today my upstairs neighbor again blasted his bass system for 5 hours straight. I called the police for the first time. They met with him then come to my door that, "he says he doesn't do it, and if you have complaint go to blah blah office". He was very rude and his coworker asked me where I am from.

P.S. If you want to buy house in Turkey, be careful. There are a lot of scammers here and we were scammed multiple times.

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Very well said. So the upstairs neighbor was straight lying to the police. 

I now will seriously consider to buy a Mustakil Ev or will not buy anything except a top floor duplex daire.

Could you tell me what kinds of scams have you encountered throughout your life in Turkey?

About 50% of the people I have encountered so far are scammers/want to take advantage of me. 

Dishonest Turkish Airbnb hosts everywhere, once I booked an Airbnb, can't contact a host, found the host via google search, told host to cancel, and hosts refuses to cancel even if it's due to his fault. Reported to Airbnb and Airbnb forced the host to cancel. It would have been a disaster if I didn't proactively contact the host to make sure the unit will be available when I arrive in Turkey.

The hotel I booked in Antalya for cheap was also in an extremely bad condition, bathroom has no lights, no electricity, wifi was terrible, ac didn't work, basically like living in a refugee camp.

What are all the scams you have encountered?

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