Would You Rather?

Which is the lesser of two evils: a loud neighbor or a smelly one?

Share this Article

​Living as close as we do to one another in NYC, we all have to get used to some neighborly nuisances. But we asked a group of New Yorkers whether they prefer the annoyance of loud neighbors or smelly ones (keeping in mind that smell can mean anything from cooking smells to smoking and beyond).

  • City sleepers 100 percent I’d prefer a loud neighbor. I sleep like a rock. But I think a smell would actually wake me up. My room faces the street, in Harlem, so it’s like a block party outside my window every night. I can sleep through that. I was in New Hampshire for a wedding a while ago and couldn’t sleep for three days because it was so quiet. —Kaysey, West Harlem (shown at left)

  • When you like to sleep I’d prefer a smelly neighbor. I like to sleep. Smoke smells wouldn’t really bother me that much, neither would cooking. And other strong smelling stuff… whatever, that’s okay. Noise can be stressful though, especially if it’s fighting or a dog or something and it never stops.  —Micah, Sugar Hill (shown at left)
  • The city's noise exchange Loud neighbor [is better]! Smells are obnoxious and nauseating. Whereas, loud sounds you can combat with ear plugs, noise machines, or firm knocks on their door, floor, or ceiling. —Janice, Astoria
  • Mr. Fix-it  I don’t want either of those, but if I had to choose, I’d go for a loud neighbor. Because whatever it is, I can handle them. If it’s too loud for me, I’ll go over there and tell them, and if they continue, I have no problem elevating my complaint. A smelly neighbor, I don’t know how to deal with. What do you say to somebody just cooking their food? It may not smell good to me, but what are you going to do about it? If they are smoking, whatever they’re smoking, man that’s their business and my bad luck. That’s just living in the city. —Mack, Jackson Heights

  • Feeling Zen toward loud yoga I’d rather not have either of those! But I guess noise is more manageable. One of my neighbors is giving yoga classes in his place on Sunday mornings. He uses a mic or something to talk to the class, so I can hear it too. I just put on music! —Nim, Midtown East (shown at left)
  • The devil you know… Ugh! Both those things are the worst! But I guess, at least, there are only a few smells I can think of. Cooking wouldn’t bother me too much and that has too stop eventually. Smoking is icky, but I’m out most of the time anyway. P.S. My roommate has B.O. and I hate it, but he pays rent on time. Don’t tell him I said that he’s so nice otherwise! Loudness I associate with obnoxious people. As long as it’s not a rotting corpse, I’ll choose smelly ones. —Vinnie, Hamilton Heights
  • Noise! for now… That’s really hard because I’d normally say I don’t like loudness, any kind of loudness. But I’m pregnant right now and I’m really sensitive to smells. When the baby comes and needs sleep, it’ll be the opposite. —Angelina, Upper West Side.
  • Birds of a smelly feather I had a roommate who was such a smoker and it bothered me a bit. But then I paint and tag stuff and have a ton of paint and spray paint and stuff lying around and I know those smell bad. I mean, I like it, but some don’t. So I’ll go for the smell over sounds. —Ivan, Harlem

Verdict: Rock on, New York!


For New Yorkers, not all neighbor noise is equal

Childfree vs. families: A shrink neighbors how to keep the peace

Can I force my noisy upstairs neighbors  to get more carpeting?

Ask an Expert: Help with nude, smoking neighbors