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Suburban noise complaints

Posted by Rona Fischman March 31, 2011 01:44 PM

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The noise issues in suburbia are nurture and nature. Nurture, taking care of things and people: transportation noises, lawn care, and child care.

The train blew its horn as it went over a bridge a little over a quarter mile from my childhood bedroom window. The horn blasted every two hours all night and hourly, or more, all day. I didnít much notice it until I was a restless teenager, tossing and turning. When my parents bought that house, the train was a selling point. The train noise was never an issue. My friends a little closer to it, complained a little more.

Highway noise is a complaint I hear from buyers in many towns around here, where Route 2, I-95, 90 and 93 blast past residential neighborhoods. Around Logan and Hanscom and under their flight paths, jet noise is a significant disturbance.

The suburban noise I remember best is the lawnmower engine of my next door neighbor. He mowed around 7 on Saturday morning. My teenaged self was none too pleased. Since those days, yard care has gotten noisy year-round, with the advent of leaf and snow blowers.

Where I grew up, the houses were pretty close together. There is an illusion of privacy that was just not so. During the summer, we heard parents calling kids to dinner two doors down. Maybe, I was in a place of particularly noisy parents, but somehow, I doubt it. I could hear conversations next door, at night in the summer. Have you lived in a suburb like this?

Then there is nature:
The birds, the cats, the dogs. My least favorite bird in the world is the raven. I lived near the water, where there were tall trees and large ravens who CAW CAWed starting at dawn. Second in that category is woodpeckers. Cats are great fun at mating season; otherwise they are not noisy. Dogs locked in yards or in houses with open windows are also a joy, woo-woo-woof. You have to be more rural to hear frogs.

Wind can be noisy and frightening. But, that doesnít last. But wind chimes are a noise that takes only the slightest breeze. Are you in the pro-wind chime or anti-wind chime camp?

Have I given fair time to suburban noisiness? What did I miss? Iíve lived in a city since 1984, so my recollections are rusty.

There aren't many telltale signs of nature noise for the suburban buyer. Maybe a fenced yard with a dog welcoming people --bow wow, bow wow -- but that's about all.

However, the transportation noises, and some of the people noises can be spotted. Did you look before you bought? What advice do you give, beyond "keep your eyes and ears open"?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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