People Share The Strangest Things They Weren’t Supposed To Hear But Did Because Of Thin Walls
One of the most important things we all need in our lives is privacy. Whether that means limiting followers on your social media accounts or constantly closing your curtains so people passing by cannot see what you’re making for dinner, nobody wants to feel like they are being watched. But sometimes, especially when you live in a tight apartment building, even when no one else can see you, they might be able to hear you.
One curious individual reached out to the Ask Reddit community and posed the question, “Redditors with thin walls, what have you heard in your apartment?” The post received thousands of comments featuring overheard conversations that were never meant to be shared, but sometimes, the urge to eavesdrop is far too strong. We’ve gathered some of the juiciest, cringiest and most hilarious stories of things neighbors never asked to overhear but were subjected to, and gathered them below for you all to read. Enjoy going through these responses that might make you want to install soundproof walls as soon as possible, and then if you’re interested in reading another Bored Panda piece featuring conversations bystanders have caught at just the right moment, check out this story next.
My parents told me stories about the apartment they lived in when i was a baby. The lady above us was a classically trained pianist and her music room was above my room. Apparently when i would start crying in my crib she would start playing and i would go right to sleep. After my parents divorced my dad stayed in the same apartment. A few years later when i went to visit him (i was about 10 or 11) i got to finally meet her for the first time. The woman who used to play me to sleep as a baby taught me how to play the piano ten years later.
If you have ever lived in an apartment building, chances are you have heard more than you wanted to on more than one occasion. Whether it was a fight between the couple next door, an angry phone call to someone’s parent, too many details about your upstairs neighbor’s love life, or a pet who just won’t shut up in the middle of night, it’s never fun to be reminded that you share a space with many other people. Our homes should be our sanctuaries. But unfortunately, just because there are walls in between you and your fellow tenants does not mean you don’t know what movies they are watching, what music they listen to, and the current state of their marriage.
But if you are living in a paper thin apartment building and just want some relief from the constant fear that your neighbors can hear you and the perpetual annoyance of knowing way too much about them, there are certain tactics you can employ to gain a bit more privacy. According to Thomas Bruhl, creator of the blog A Soundproof House, you can even make your home much more soundproof without having to embark on any complicated construction projects.
When I was an older teenager I had my own tiny apartment in the hood and a raging a*****e gang member for a boyfriend. We would get in raucous fights and my downstairs neighbor would call the police. One time, I was crying quietly after a particularly bad fight that had gotten physical and I heard my neighbor arguing with her husband “No, I’m not going to mind my own business and ignore it. I don’t care that he always comes back the next day & she forgives him. One day he’s going to really hurt her or kill her and I’m not going to live with knowing that I sat there and did nothing when I KNEW a girl was being abused”. I was naive and in love, I thought and ignorant and young and I had never considered it ABUSE. That felt so melodramatic but I realized that my neighbor was right. Finally left him for good after that fight. So, good looking out random lady in east LA in 1999. I’m sorry for being the worst neighbor imaginable
My downstairs neighbors are a couple with a one year old boy. The babies room is right under mine. They speak so sweetly to him I’m not even mad that I can hear them so clearly.
One morning the dad went in to get the baby out of bed and I hear him go “can you say daddy? Can you say daddy?” And in the tiniest little voice I heard “daddy”. My heart melted.
If thin walls in your building are affecting your quality of life or quality of sleep, Thomas first recommends investing in soundproof blankets to place on the weakest points of a wall. He explains that sound does not equally travel through every part of a wall, so it is best to try to pinpoint the places that let the most noise through first. Then start hanging those blankets! The name is pretty self explanatory, but Thomas notes that soundproof blankets are designed to block and dampen sound and have been proven to reduce noise by up to 50%. There are a variety of them available, so you can choose the aesthetic that matches your space the best and rest easy knowing that you won’t have to pretend you did not know that your neighbor and her husband were separating.
Next, Thomas suggests sealing off any cracks and holes in your walls with green glue. “Much of the airborne noise enters your apartment through cracks and holes in the wall,” he explains. “And unfortunately, even if you’ve just moved in, there might still be small holes or gaps in your walls.” These small holes might not seem like a big deal, but they can amplify your neighbors’ conversations more than you may realize. Sealing them up will be one more way to bring your home a bit more privacy.
"Help me please. He won't let me go." - I went and knocked on the door, guy opened the door with his pants half way down while a woman behind him kept screaming that he wouldn't let her go. He told me to f**k off and closed the door. I called the cops and apparently I stopped the guy from r*ping the girl. Felt good.
I’ve heard my neighbor giving his granddaughter a xylophone, for birthday I guess. She could play it well and kept playing for a while. Immediately after she left I could hear him trying to play something his granddaughter played. He practiced for a solid hour until he managed to play this song correctly and stopped with a joyful“Yes!“. It was one of the purest things I’ve ever experienced.
Another method that might sound drastic but can make a huge difference is rearranging your furniture to place large pieces in front of the noisiest walls. “Airborne sounds – clinking dishes, conversations, neighbor’s alarm clock, muffled music – travel through the air. If you put obstacles on the sound’s path, you will dampen it and reduce its impact,” Thomas explains. Artwork, bookshelves, wardrobes, sofas, dressers and more can be the perfect barriers to make your space a bit quieter. Plus, it’s a great excuse to make your home cozier as well.
Thomas’ next tip is to add foam panels or acoustic wall tiles to your home to help soundproof it. These work well to block outside noise but also to keep your own sounds in. As much as you do not want to know what your neighbors are discussing all the time, I’m sure you also don’t want them knowing all the details of your private life either. These panels can act like wallpaper as well, adding an interesting aesthetic element to any space, and they are guaranteed to reduce outside noise from creeping in through your walls.
Years ago I had an upstairs neighbor. At 2am, every night, I would hear something sprint across the entire apartment. I realized three things, it was very fast, it took small strides, and it never deviated from its path. One day, I saw my neighbor outside and I said, "I dont know how you have energy at 2am?" He responded with, "Dude, I've been working the midnight to 8am shift for 15 years. Doesnt bother me at all".
That night, I watched him leave his house, drive off, and waited two hours. At exactly 2am, I heard what sounded like two feet hit the floor in his bedroom, and the marathon started.
A few weeks later, I see him outside. I tell him what I hear at night and he says, "That's strange, no one has my keys, it's just me and my rabbit up there."
One day my neighbor was spontaneously singing the national anthem (America) and stopped mid-line and cussed because they messed up the words.
So I sang the correct next line and they burst out laughing before coming back in and finishing the song with me.
I've still never met that neighbor.
Our neighbors were once talking loud and I was nosey so I put my ear up to the wall and realized she was reading him Harry Potter pretty enthusiastically and it made my heart melt.
When it comes to why thin walls are such an issue in apartment buildings, the answer likely comes down to companies trying to cut costs. But there are also a wide variety of regulations, or lack thereof, when it comes to noise levels, depending on where a building is located.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the internal airborne sound resistance inside any apartment must be a minimum of 40dB. This not only applies to walls but also upper floors between bedrooms and other rooms. Interestingly enough, however, any wall that has a door in it or is connected to an en suite bathroom does not need to meet the same standards. When it comes to impact sounds, such as footsteps, jumping and dropping objects, a “maximum impact sound transmittance level” of 62dB is permitted for floors and stairs in new buildings, while 64dB is the limit for converted spaces.
When I was in grad school I lived below a family with several young kids. The mother was great and we got along well. She was always apologetic about kid noise, but I didn't really mind. The compromise that worked for us was that it was ok for me to play an amplified guitar, as long as it wasn't late, because her kids liked it and would dance to it when they could hear it.
My upstairs neighbors taking turns zapping each other with a stun gun, hitting the floor, groaning in pain, and then laughing like Beavis and Butthead.
Late to this thread - but for a while I lived next to some Mormon missionaries. Super nice girls. I once apologized to them because my bird was a bit of a squeaker, they told me they didn’t mind.
I was home sick from work one day, and they were singing to my bird through the wall. It was so cute I almost died.
When building a space, architects must keep many factors in mind for where sound is most likely to travel. Some of the most common pathways for noise to take are through chimneys, service entry holes for plumbing or wiring, places where there are back to back electrical sockets on walls, un-pointed mortar joints with gaps and holes, when there is not enough isolating void between ceilings and floors and hard floor coverings without an isolation material between them and the floorboards. Noise is sneaky, and if it’s given a route to take, it will hop on the first train into or out of your apartment.
I once heard an argument that went a little like this:
"Stop treating me like I'm stupid!"
"You asked if Seahorses were mammals, Jessica!"
"THEY GIVE LIVE BIRTH."
A child yelling "Stop hitting me". I called the cops on them several times and never regretted it once.
New upstairs neighbors are a thousand times better.
Now I listen to their kitty get the zoomies and run up and down the hall!
Girlfriend and I were laying in bed at night, was probably around 11:30pm when we hear our neighbor scream; "I f*****g love tomatoes!" and that was all that we heard.
There is no question that soundproofing a building makes the tenants more comfortable, but there are benefits for landlords as well. According to Soundproof Cow, “Soundproofing materials absorb energy, including heat. By limiting the amount of noise that escapes an apartment, you’ll also limit the amount of heat that escapes, allowing tenants to make the most of their energy consumption.” Keeping sound out is a win win for everyone. If your apartment is properly insulated, you’ll no longer need to sit around with blankets whispering so that your neighbors don’t hear you complain about how cold it is in there!
I woke up one morning in a daze, started walking down my stairs (I live in a townhouse/condo) and paused and farted, way louder than I expected. My neighbor next door started laughing so hard from her living room.
I actually manage an apartment complex where my office is surrounded by a one bedroom unit. The building is old and the walls are thin. The tenant that used to live in the unit was a quiet man but would frequently sing beautiful opera music. His voice was amazing and I loved it every time I heard him sing!
Then one time I saw him in the halls and made the mistake of asking if he was the one who sang these beautiful opera songs. His face turned red but he confirmed that it was him. I told him that I always enjoyed it when I heard him sing and that it would always brighten my day.
Never should have said anything because I never heard him sing again.
My male neighbor from India belting out hello by Adele at the top of his lungs. It was magical.
A lot of the stories on this list are a matter of overhearing a conversation or situation because it was imposed onto a tenant by nature of their thin walls. However, listening to other people’s conversations is not a new guilty pleasure for many people. Eavesdropping has been around since the dawn of time, and it is one of my personal favorite pastimes. When my life is not filled with drama, intrigue or suspense, I can’t help but listen to the woman next to me at the coffee shop detail the rollercoaster of her love life. Eavesdropping is live entertainment, and although I’m sure the tenants on this list attempted ear plug, headphones, and white noise, I’m sure many of them also enjoyed the overhearing at times too.
The way my old apartments were laid out, the neighbors bedroom was right next to my kitchen / dining room. One night, I hear them banging (thin walls are thinner when the bed is hitting the wall) while I was fixing dinner. I just turned up the music and continued on with my life. Two hours later, I was cleaning up , doing dishes, and generally tidying up when I heard the familiar thump thump thump of banging. I think, good for them and bag up the trash to take out. Thump thump thump. I open the door and take my bag of trash outside. As I’m walking out, I see the male half of my thumping neighbors....walking in from his car.
Walking back from the dumpster, I see a half naked dude running out of the neighbors apartment. They moved shortly after that.
My dad snoring like a bear, and my mum snoring like a walrus.
If they argue, they snore out of sync, and if they have a nice day they snore in sync.
It’s really quite sweet.
I once heard a former roommate laughing with his then girlfriend about how they're f*****g me over on money. Turned out they were taking my utility portion and buying various games and alcohol.
Instead of confronting them, I confirmed what they said with the utilities company (they hadn't paid the bill is 2 months) and I moved all my stuff out that day while they were at work. For good measure, I took myself off the lease and told them about the GF that had been there 6 months.
Our curiosity for other people’s business never seems to be satiated. According to a paper published in Psychological Science, it is more challenging for humans to not eavesdrop on someone who is talking on the phone than on two people having a conversation right in front of us. We are intrigued by this “halfalogue” and love filling in the gaps about the context and what the other party is saying. This same idea applies to listening through the walls. We likely did not have the full context of the people’s relationship, probably did not hear the entire conversation and may even miss parts due to noise in our own apartment or variations in our neighbors’ volume. But we’re still captivated. I would guess that most of the people whose answers are featured on this list did not hear those conversations yesterday, but they certainly remembered them.
My next door neighbor in college would snooze his alarm, head to the gym, and then his alarm would go off until he got home. I finally left an angry postit on his door that said, ‘Turn off your f*****g alarm.’
Anyway we met years later and now we’re married with kids so w/e ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Pre-dawn hours, blizzard outside, everything still and quiet, my roommate and I heard our neighbor on the other side of the firewall fart, wet and deep like a stifled baritone sax, and exclaim to himself in a twisted combination of awe and disgust, "OH my GOD!" We burst out laughing, and hear him chime in with pride, "Did you guys *hear* that?!" vindicated that his fart was heard and forever lives in our memories.
I lived under some Cubans who played Air Supply when they had sex at the absolute loudest volume they could. They also really enjoyed soccer/football, and the woman would make sounds like a siren, just long extended “wwwoooooooooooooo!” for minutes on end whenever something exciting happened.
They were pretty terrible neighbors. Really obnoxious and loud all the time. They would mop their patio, and the dirty water ran all over our porch. They also poured out used mop water off the patio too. The parking was terrible in that complex and they would occupy two spaces with one vehicle.
They pretended not to speak English whenever we tried to talk to them (even before all the problems; I try to be friendly with my neighbors), but they would also speak loud English right outside our apartment as if we couldn’t hear them. So one day I tried to say hello to them and got a terse, rude reply in Spanish followed by “No comprendo” so I casually asked my sister if she thought the guy knew his wife was sleeping with that blonde they always had over (not made up, they were having an affair).
There was lots of screaming from their apartment later on. No regrets.
EDIT: Silver. Noice. You guys are the s**t. And these comments are great.
According to Jonah Lehrer’s piece for Wired titled “The Science of Eavesdropping”, we are drawn to gaps in information. This goes for books, films, shows, people, etc. When we do not fully understand something, we are intrigued and want to know more. So no matter how obnoxious you might find your neighbors, when you hear a juicy conversation through the wall, you can’t help but listen in. Even if the ethics of eavesdropping are questionable, you pay rent to live there too. If you get an auditory show while you’re eating dinner, who says you’re not allowed to listen?
I heard my roommates having sex very loudly. I didn’t say anything at the moment but sat them down the next day and talked about it...turns out the boyfriend was at work during the time it happened
Not in my house, but I travel a lot for work and stay in a lot of hotels.
So far my favorite was hearing someone banging around in the shower for a while then this exchange:
(Loudly) "Hey! Wash my balls."
(Louder)"Wash your own goddamned balls!"
(Yelling)"F**k you, your pussy stinks!"
They got quiet after that, probably because they heard me howling with laughter and realized people could hear them.
I shared a wall with a Buddhist temple, so a lot of chanting and gonging. It was an awesome five years.
We hope you’re enjoying this list of some of the most hilarious, disturbing and confusing things tenants have heard through their walls. Keep upvoting the stories you think all your fellow pandas should hear, and then let us know in the comments if you have ever overheard a conversation that deserves on this list. I hope you all have privacy and peace and quiet in your homes, but if not, you might want to look into some soundproofing gear. I wouldn’t want you to come across details about your personal life on Reddit, shared by your neighbors…
"Gina, I love you! Gina no! Gina, dammit put the knife down!!" At this point, both the apartments adjoining to Gina's called the police. Gina's husband decided to spend the night elsewhere.
In college, I lived in a crappy apartment nearby the school, that was mostly populated by students. Halfway to class one day, I realized I forgot a book and had to rush back to my apartment to get it. As I was running up the stairs (which shared a wall with the stairs in the next door apartment, which mirrored my own) I could have sworn I heard someone yelling. I ignored it and ran to my room to grab my book. As I clambered downstairs, again I heard yelling, and I paused to listen. I heard some unintelligible moaning, and eventually heard the words “help me,” weakly groaned from the stairs next door. I rushed out and tried their door, but it was locked. I totally forgot about my class and ran to the apartment management office, hoping that someone was there. A manager was, thank goodness, and after I explained the situation, she grabbed her master keys and we booked it back to my neighbor’s place. She opened the door and the poor guy was laying in the stairwell (it was one of the ones that goes up halfway to the second floor, then turns 90 degrees for the rest of the way), clearly having fallen. I called 911 while the manager ran over to the guy. Ambulance came and picked him up, and I later learned that he had fallen down the stairs after passing into a brief diabetic coma. I guess he hadn’t eaten in some time; I don’t know too much about how diabetes works. Anyhow, to this day, I feel grateful that I forgot that book. That poor guy could have died, slumped halfway down the stairs with his face in the carpet.
Edited to add: also, relevant to the thread, I was grateful for the thin walls. Just for that though. Thin walls suck.
Edited again to add: Thanks stranger - baby’s first Reddit gold!
Neighbor worked alot and hired a new sitter. New sitter invited 2 guys over. Kids were only 3 and 1
Heard her say "if we leave to go to the corner store now, the kids will be fine alone for 20 minutes." and heard them talking about popping some of moms xanax and selling them. Then they promptly left. I walked out knocked on the door and the 3 year old boy came out. I called the police, went into the apartment found moms work number next to the sink and she was furious. Left work and came back home and as she was walking up to thank me and the officers, the babysitter and guys came into the complex. (Mind you this was all within an hour, not 20 minutes lol). Mom whooped babysitter, then called babysitters mom and she got another whoopin. Got offered a sitting job after that and took it. LOL. Also have heard one of my neighbors talking in tongues and yodeling. Glad I dont live in apartment anymore.
"F**k you, man! If you don't like spaghetti, then you don't like me!"
What can only be described as my flat mate having phone sex while using Christian bales batman voice
Every night I would hear my hardcore alcoholic neighbour puke in the sink, jam to her "party music" (usually Concrete Blonde on full blast), puke again, drag her foldout bed out of the closet, then turn on all her fans to go to bed. Her routine. I stopped hearing it. All I heard were the fans. Knew in my gut something was wrong, but kept pushing it away. (I was avoiding her in order to build up some boundaries between us). Silence for five days straight. She had been dead in there for five days, autopsy said heart and liver issue due to chronic alcoholism..
After the body was removed, I let her son into her apartment as I had a spare key. Some decomposition on her rollout bed, but no smell other than her usual smell. He thanked me for being the only regular person in her life, and I felt so guilty.
Keep an ear out for silence, friends.
My downstairs neighbor (a 40 something Moroccan gentleman) playing various videogame songs on his piano for his son who came to visit. It was very cute and wholesome
Edit: a word
Father used to live in a trailer park. I have nothing against trailer parks, but this one was pretty bad.
We heard a loud bang, sounded like a .22, it wasn't overly loud.
Then, "Did you get him?"
Voice 2: "Yeah, he's dead alright."
First voice: "That'll teach him not to go near your drugs!"
Cops were called, turns out these guys shot a cockroach with a handgun. Both arrested for drug charges, one with discharging a firearm improperly.
I moved from far away, so I have a different state license plate than everyone else at the apartment complex. A couple of days ago I head my upstairs neighbor drunkenly ranting to his wife about what he thinks I'm up to. He's convinced that I'm on the run from something. I'm just in grad school lmao.
an argument about money while I was doing the dishes. It ended with a slammed door and one of them on a piano, hitting the keys like a maniac. Some people read, some people go get something to eat, some people exercise.. this m**********r relieves stress by going crazy on a piano. lol
Recently downstairs girl has acquired a dog that:
1. she doesn't take on walks
2. she leaves at home, out of a crate.
I hear her come home and yell/scream/throw s**t at this poor dog... it's heartbreaking - and since no one else in the 4-plex is home I am kinda scared to call animal control in case this crazy b***h decides to make my life hell for reporting her.
Suggestions welcome, this has been tearing at my conscience for the last 2 weeks.
Edit: it's been reported
"William! We do *not* hit!"
His mom was visiting. He was 30.
Upstairs neighbors were a single mom and teenage daughter. They were very loud. The mom’s room was above my room. One day I had off and was woken up by sex upstairs. It was pretty common in the previous couple weeks. This time, though, someone came in and started screaming.
“YOU’RE HAVING SEX IN MYYYYY BED?!”
Turns out the daughter had been skipping school and coming back to the apartment with her boyfriend. They were the ones having sex in the mom’s bed. The fight that ensued should’ve earned both women awards.
My downstairs neighbour has a geniunely beautiful singing voice. She thinks she's just singing to herself but sometimes I stop what I'm doing to listen because it's so beautiful. Am I invading her personal space by eavesdropping without telling her?
My last apartment had particularly weak walls between apartments. One night I was reading in bed and I was unknowingly the third party to a particularly nasty fight between the couple living next door. The fight last for almost an hour and was apparently the end of their said relationship as she was going to leave him and the apartment the next day. The longer the fight went on the more interested I became as I pieced snippets of the reason for the fight together.
I did not know them personally, only enough to wave and say hi, help them with carrying up groceries etc...good neighbor stuff.
It seemed Couple A (both early thirties) were becoming bored with their sex life. For whatever reason they decided that they would fulfill a fantasy of theirs and invite a third individual to join them sexually.
Male A and Female A found through some online means Male B to join them. I guess things worked out for awhile, from the snippets of the fight I caught Male B had joined them on multiple occasions for various sexual escapades.
The kicker was Female A came home early from a work trip and found Male A and Male B deeply engrossed in their sexual acrobatics
without her. Female A flipped out and I guess after that point they tried to patch things up but she caught both of them on two other occasions (the latest being the night before fight night that I was unashamedly listening to)
Neither neighbor would hold my gaze for long the next morning. I think they were to embarrassed or ashamed to ask if I had heard anything and presumed I heard it all. I even offered to carry a box of stuff she was lugging out of the apartment (remember..good neighbor). She mumbled something and said no. He was packed, moved out and gone a week later.
Needless to say it was the most interesting thin walled apartment experience I have had the vicarious pleasure to be part of.
More what my neighbour heard...I'm a deep sleeper and was an even deeper sleeper as a teenager. My phone alarm was going off for 30 minutes and my neighbours could hear it through the walls, assumed it was a burglar alarm and called the police. Waking up to the police banging on my door was confusing.
Neighbor to her son: “If you want her to ________, you need to manscape down there. It’s only fair.”
Me, in my living room: 😳
Couple upstairs would argue frequently. One particular evening, they had an epic battle. It was hours long.
About 2 hours into the argument (11 pm on a weeknight) we heard the woman shout “first of all”.
That was the moment we knew sleeping wouldn’t be restful that night.
I lived next to a couple some years ago and they came home after a night out and started fighting about who was better at darts. I thought they were joking but it got pretty heated. Doors were slammed.
I've been hearing Don't Stop Believing by Journey every morning at least twice for about a month now
"They warned me about you! I never should've married you!" - my 60yo neighbours.
And recently a heated argument between different neighbours adult kids. The son had caught his son (5yo) playing doctor with his sister's daughter 4yo). They argued very loudly about it in their back garden... which is completely surrounded by other houses and apartments. I think at least 30 households could hear it.
Edit: "playing doctor" means getting naked and comparing bits.
My ex-neighbors never let their kids leave the house, and preferred to raise bubble children. The older son (12 or 13) was pitifully fragile. One day I heard him crying because he s**t on his own hands