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I have never met my neighbors, but I have been woken up by them many times as they talk loudly at their doorstep, laughing, sometimes a dog barking with them, usually around 2 AM. My house is a bit closer to the street then theirs, with only a narrow gap between them, so that my bedroom window is essentially right next to their front door, so these exchanges are very audible from my bed.

I'm not the sort of person who gets mad at my neighbors for making noise. I figure we make noise too. But their 2 AM doorstep conversations are wrecking my sleep and I need to stop the middle-of-the-night noise without making them feel mad at me (angry neighbors could cause me more trouble than waking me up). Since I haven't made their acquaintance yet, I don't know how to approach them, and I don't want to alienate them. I feel like leaving a note would seem passive aggressive, and knocking on their door would seem confrontational. What is the best way I can approach them about this?

  • What would you like accomplished? Do you care about how they feel about you? Do you at some point want to be friends with them or not? Do you want this completely stopped? Or just be quieter? How open are you to getting to know them before confronting them about this? – Crazy Cucumber Jan 29 '18 at 16:22
  • Also, you are right about the note. Please don't leave a note. Literally no situation in this world (well not literally, but almost) can be resolved and everyone is happy with you leaving a note. – Crazy Cucumber Jan 29 '18 at 16:24
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    @CrazyCucumber My goal is for the middle-of-the-night noise to stop without making them feel mad at me. I'm not necessarily interested in making friends with them (I think they are college students and probably wont stick around for more than a year or two), but angry neighbors can cause more problems than occasional noise in the middle of the night. – BlackThorn Jan 29 '18 at 16:27
  • Did you already have a look at this question? May be of help to you, also. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Jan 29 '18 at 16:27
  • @BlackThorn I would add that comment to the question. "I need to do something about it" can be replaced with your comment. – Crazy Cucumber Jan 29 '18 at 16:31
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First of all, I'd suggest meeting the neighbors. Stop by and introduce yourself. 'Hi, I'm Blackthorn from next door. We haven't met yet." And leave it at that; don't have your meeting them be the time you complain about their behavior. Get to know them and let them get to know you and they won't associate you with complaining about their noise.

After meeting you and associating a name and a face, the next time this happens, stop by their house when everyone is awake. Then explain to them: "Hey, I just wanted to let you know that my bedroom is close to your front door. So I can hear everything you say at your door." If they're even average neighbors, they'll understand and watch what they do. If not, then the next time they have a 2 am chat outside your window, open the window and say (politely), "Guys, it's 2 in the morning and I have to go to work in the morning. Can I ask you to take it inside?"

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    Good advice. I'd like to comment that it sounds like the neighbor may work nights. If the OP can hear the neighbor then likely the reverse is possible. As someone who works evenings, we can sometimes forget that the rest of the world runs on a different schedule than us. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that. – doctordonna Jan 29 '18 at 23:35
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Based on having dealt with similar problems, I suggest you talk to the neighbors first. (There will be a Step 2, if that doesn't work.) Tips for talking to the neighbors:

  • Approach them when they are not drunk or high.

  • Don't approach when they are in a group of more than two people.

  • Don't try to be ingratiating. Be cool, not aggressive -- basically, aim for neutral. Just explain that the sound carries straight over to your place and your work schedule means that you need quiet time to start around x time (e.g. 9 pm).

  • Don't try to tell them where to have their conversations. For example, don't suggest they have them inside, or in their car, or down the block, or at the neighborhood park, or in the Walmart parking lot -- it's up to them to figure that out.

Important: get a noise machine from Bed, Bath and Beyond, or some similar gadget, and use silicone ear buds or something similar to block your ears.

Step 2. If they wake you up despite the use of the ear plugs and the noise machine, then call your local law enforcement. Call as many times as necessary and work your way up the hierarchy if necessary. (Check your local noise ordinance so you'll be able to have an informed conversation. If necessary contact your elected officials to have the ordinance beefed up -- but meanwhile, keep working on getting law enforcement to address the problem.)

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I don't think them going inside is going to be a hassle (like being less loud might be) so I suggest a direct approach knock at their door at a reasonable time and say something like this

Hey, my name is John I'm your neighbor, am I interrupting? I just wanted to mention that my window is very close to your doorstep and I hear almost everything happening at the doorstep; I don't mind it most of the times but it wakes me up at 2AM it would really help me if you could either tone it down or just enter the house and talk in there.

In general I don't think the direct approach is the best route to go but here you are asking very little of them (just to watch what they are saying at 2AM at doorstep). Speaking from personal experience living with a friend who is known to approach people who complain about noise with hostility; when he was approached with a neighbor who simply said

I understand playing music and noise and everything but I can't sleep, can you just tune it down at night?

He didn't get angry he just put the volume down a bit, this is because the neighbor didn't come aggressive and because he didn't judge him because of the music but simply pointed out that he can't sleep.

So perhaps the main point is to approach them without any anger and like you're asking them for a favor.

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I have a small solution that helps with what you specifically asked, but I would hesitate to use it unless you are sure you do not want to try and build a better relationship with your neighbours.

The next time they are having a loud conversation right outside your window/at their front door clear your throat loud enough that it will interrupt their conversation.

I will give some explanation since I know it sounds like a very awkward solution. The main reason I suggest it is because although it makes interactions with those neighbours potentially more weird, you mentioned that you were not too interested in becoming friends, and doing it accomplishes all of your goals very efficiently, which are:

  1. Do not make your neighbours mad at you

  2. Decrease the amount and loudness of their conversations at the front door

This helps with 1. as clearing your throat is a known gesture for politely alerting someone of your presence and in your situation, although it does interrupt their conversation with incredible awkwardness, it leaves the possibility open that you think they simply did not know you could hear them, and will happily move the conversation elsewhere. Implying that someone has good intentions is a great way of deterring bad ones, without accusing them which would risk them getting defensive/mad.

This also helps with 2. in decreasing the loudness in a few different ways. First, now that they know you can hear them at the door they may try to do the right thing out of respect and a mutual desire to get along. Second, it interrupts that immediate conversation and turns it cold. The sudden awkward interruption with the implied indication that they have woken somebody up or that an unseen stranger can hear your private conversation should stop just about anybody in their tracks. Lastly, it deters future conversations as they will naturally desire to avoid such an awkward moment in the future, and probably go to fair lengths to avoid "avoid waking up the neighbour".

(Edit: This is not just a one off and I honestly can not see a situation where your neighbours would be oblivious enough not to associate it with a repeated problem. If they don't however, repeating the same solution of clearing your throat to interrupt their conversation should form a pattern.)

Doing this is somewhat rude/weird I know, but it solves your specified problem so I hope that it helps however it can.

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    They might not hear the throat clearing and they may not associate it with a repeated problem. – paparazzo Jan 29 '18 at 18:03
  • OP said he was right next to the front door, so long as he does a very loud and obvious one they should definitely hear it – Jesse Jan 29 '18 at 23:13

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