I live in an apartment building near a busy road. You can’t hear the traffic as much as the human riffraff that comes from being near such a busy road and public transportation in a bad neighborhood.
Our building is also just a couple of meters from another building.
Both buildings have really, really awful tenants. Other than the guy to our left who doesn’t ever come home, I’d say we’re the best tenants in both buildings combined. And he only wins because he’s never there, and how can you be a bad tenant if you are never there?
At any given time, we have the toddler crying a tortured cry from the other building (it’s hot out, so the windows are open and we can hear everything), the drug addicts upstairs stomping, pacing, or fighting (depending on their mood), the teenager across the hall knocking on the drug dealer’s door next door to us asking for some drugs, the deadbeat dad screaming at his child (named Angel), the young men outside playing rap music and smoking (and discussing how they can't afford prostitutes), the lady upstairs getting in a verbal yelling match with the lady two doors down about how close they were parked, and the yappy dog in the building next to us whose owners lock him alone on the deck.
I didn’t say we lived in a nice building! Even so, the rent is cheap and it’s in a convenient location and my safety isn’t threatened so we tolerate it.
I didn’t think I could ever tolerate living in such a tumultuous environment day in and day out, but here’s how we managed and will continue to manage without going crazy and also staying safe:
Lock Your Doors
I wouldn’t say my physical safety is threatened by living in such an apartment, but I do get a little freaked out at the thought of one of my seedy neighbors breaking into the apartment and stealing stuff. Alternatively, being so high that they think it's their house and passing out in our bed.
So we lock our doors. All the time, no matter what. We do double locks when we’re out, and the sliding door to the deck has a very complex 4x locking system that the boyfriend devised that I can hardly even work.
This lesson was learned after just having gotten home from grocery shopping and not locking the door behind us when we got in. Our neighbors that dumpster dive in the parkade “accidently” walked into our apartment.
Earplugs in a bad neighborhood
We really wouldn’t be able to sleep at night were it not for earplugs. We get the little ones and use them almost every night.
We’re not worried about anybody breaking in without us knowing because they block out just the right amount of sound; if the dogs barked, we would hear it.
Keep the Light On When You’re Not Home
I actually really hate doing this because it’s so environmentally unfriendly, but I always try to either leave the radio on or the light on when we’re not home during the evening. If we go out and won’t get back for a few hours, I feel much better because I know very few people would risk it if they didn’t know whether somebody is home or not.
Know Thy Neighbor
I think it’s good to learn what makes your neighbours tick so that if they start up with something, you can nip it in the bud right away.
When my neighbor upstairs gets high, I can always tell that I’m going to have to call the cops later if I hear him yell “shut up” to his girlfriend. It’s never happened where he’s calmed down after that; usually, it escalates into threats of throwing each other off the balcony, the angry throwing of what sounds like very, very heavy objects, and screaming at each other. As soon as I hear him raise his voice, I call or text the property manager and she goes over there to remind them that it’s not appropriate behaviour. It usually saves us from a sleepless night or a visit from the cops.
Don’t Be Afraid to Report
The neighbor across the ally in the building next to us with the dog in our bad neighborhood? Yeah, he’s just downright neglectful. He’ll leave it outside in 30 degree whether all day on the balcony. The dog is 10 pounds soaking wet, and it’s anxious and whining and scared. At first I didn’t want to report him to the SPCA because I didn’t want him to find out who did it – people like that can be dangerous – but finally I had enough of the obvious neglect that was going on and emailed the SPCA from an anonymous email address.
Keep in mind that it’s not just you that is losing sleep – if there are big fights going on upstairs that sound like somebody’s safety is being threatened, call the cops. If something doesn’t sound right about a child’s cry, call CPS. They’ll check it out and if there is nothing to worry about, then at least you can sleep knowing that you did something.
Have you ever lived in a bad neighborhood? How did you cope?