Find peace and quiet, even if you live above a bar

By Leigh Kamping-Carder  | October 16, 2014 - 12:59PM

Plentiful nightlife is, of course, a perennial reason to move to New York, and most parts of the city will not disappoint. As you can see from this interactive map from Gothamist, based on the city Health Department’s database of bar and restaurant hours, loads of places are open well into the wee hours, including on weekdays. Night owls on the apartment hunt would do well to check out Williamsburg, Bushwick, Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn; Corona, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Woodside and Astoria in Queens; and pretty much anywhere south of Central Park in Manhattan, as Gothamist notes.

That apparently shuts out a lot of areas for buyers and renters hoping to sleep in the city that never does this. But it’s not impossible to find a quiet apartment, even next door to the local watering hole. Some strategies for making sure your next spot isn’t noise central:

  • Look up the hours of the restaurant or bar. There’s a big difference between the bistro that quiets down at 10 p.m. and the nightclub that’s thumping til 4 a.m. Also double check if the establishment has a patio during the summer, and when that closes.
  • If you can, scope out the apartment at different times of day to hear how much noise comes in. You probably won’t be able to get inside the place late at night (though if you can, do it!), but you can cruise by the area and see if bar patrons are spilling out onto the sidewalk past midnight or if music is blaring.
  • Consider what type of apartment it is: brownstones are notorious for letting noise in, while prewar apartments generally have fewer gaps in construction for duct work and lighting, meaning less sound pollution. It varies by building, so it can’t hurt to ask your broker, the landlord, or the seller's broker if anything's been done to address sound issues.
  • Talk to neighbors, if possible. Do they have a problem with noise from the bars on the block? And how bad is it? That diner downstairs may be open 24 hours, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll keep you up 'round the clock too. 

Lastly, if you do find yourself living above a bar or restaurant, you could invest a few thousand dollars in soundproofing. Or, may we suggest befriending the bartender? Nothing like a few gratis whiskey-sodas to help pass an otherwise sleepless night.


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