City Living? Maybe Not for Everyone!

July 24, 2023

City Living? Maybe Not for Everyone!

Many of my clients who are downsizing are making huge changes to the type of home where they will reside. And some are deciding to move from suburban locations to the District, where they can be closer to theaters, restaurants, museums and other fun things to do in their leisure time. But city living isn’t a great match for everyone.

Why? Well, you may have to kiss peace and quiet goodby!

Like many older larger cities, Washington, DC has a few issues with aging infrastructure, and also issues with bringing many of our roads and utilities into the modern era.

For the past two weeks, the street in front of my urban home has been a major construction zone, as the city works on a project to replace all of the century-old lead pipelines connected from our homes to the main supply lines. This means that for several hours each day, there have been jack hammers and truck back-up alerts. Then yesterday, they brought in what has sounded like a giant military transport helicopter hovering outside of my front window. It was really only a little machine that compacted the street surface over the many large holes they had to dig in the street. While this project won’t last a lot longer, they are talking about following up by burying the power lines, meaning more digging and filling holes, and probably the return of the Huey helicopter sound-alikes.

Then you have neighbors who make noise, and since I have a very yappy puppy and play the piccolo in my spare time, I’ve lost all bitch privileges when neighbors raise the local decibel level by a few notches. While my home is a row house, noise can get even more intense in a condo.

Then there is traffic noise. Most city homes are on or near major traffic arteries, with not just cars, but city busses, and police and ambulance sirens. And don’t get me started on all of the motorcycles!

Air traffic also contributes to the noise factor in some neighborhoods along the Potomac River, especially in Georgetown. While flight rules try to mitigate the drone of jet engines, if you live close to the flight path, you’ll hear it.

Luckily, I am not especially noise sensitive. But a lot of people are, and if you are one of them and planning to give the big city a try, choose carefully, especially if you are considering a condo. Many buildings have special noise cancelling windows and extra noise insulation, but others do not. Top floors in condos will eliminate neighbor’s footsteps overhead.

Even if you don’t mind noise, if you make noise you might not endear yourself to neighbors. A few years ago, we listed a wonderful condo inhabited by a classical violinist. He infuriated his neighbors when he invited friends, all really good players, for evenings of string quartets. What I might consider beautiful music making, his neighbors thought of as a major nuisance, and made his life unpleasant enough that he moved.

Before you obligate yourself to buy any house or condo, check out the noise factor. Try to visit the place during parts of the day when neighbors are likely to be home or when commuters are clogging the street outside.