Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love Your Silence

Since moving to Germany I have heard rumors about so called laws controlling noise levels in residential areas.  I have never actually seen a law book though stating "Thou shalt not exceed 60 decibels between the hours of 10:00 pm and 6:00 am."  

60 decibels, by the way, is conversation level noise.  70 decibels of noise is the upper limit for being able to hear a conversation.  Don't I sound so smart?  I didn't even have to google normal decibel levels and read about noise on very informational sites made for people (not me of course) who don't have a clue about decibels or anything even remotely related to physics and the like.  

Okay, I may have done that, and I may be one of those people who doesn't have a clue about decibels or anything remotely related to physics and the like.  But I can bake cookies.  That's worth something.  

And I can separate trash the German way, which is not easy and a very important skill to have over here.  I have our very nice elderly neighbors at our last apartment to thank for helping me learn that one.  

They had us over for cake and coffee and then conveniently remembered that they had picked up a very detailed informational booklet on the proper way to separate your trash--in English even--for us, including the right bags for us to use.  It was a very polite, but not-so-subtle way of saying "You American kids have no idea how to separate your trash so let us educate you."

The noise laws aren't compiled so nicely as the trash laws but from what I can gather, these are the general guidelines:

Quiet Hours:
  • Monday through Saturday, 8 pm to 7 am (September through April)
  • Monday through Saturday, 9 pm to 7 am (May through August)
  • All day on Sunday and German holidays
  • In some communities, daily from 1-3 pm
It is strongly advised to avoid using mowing the lawn, playing loud music, running a car for a long period of time while warming them up (a rule our nice neighbors also so kindly informed us of) and letting children play outside, unattended.

Yesterday, however, I read this article from Associated Press regarding Germany's consideration to "ease up" a bit on the rules:

So how about us big kids? Can we get a little leniency?  

We've had a knock or two on our door from our neighbors upstairs asking us to keep it down.  Apparently we were laughing too loud.     

Strange though, that they would ask us to control our laughing when there has been more than one occasion of late night yelling from them.  And I have definitely heard their daughter scream at her mom between the hours of 1 and 3.

And as I'm writing this, I realize it is between 1 and 3 right now, does that mean I can't vacuum now?  Well, shoooot, I was so looking forward to doing that.  Guess I'll just have to enjoy myself another hour or so until the clock strikes 3.  Don't want to be breaking any laws now.  :)


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

I fear we may never be able to visit then. I am sure I talk too loud, I know I laugh too loud, and Melanie and I certainly sing too loud especially when she is playing her drum set :). Your neighbors would hate us. I don't remember there being rules like this when we lived in Italy but now I'm wondering if that is why the lady downstairs from us hated us so much and used to shake her finger at Tina and I. Oh well. :) Love and miss you! ~ Julie

Cara said... Best Blogger Tips

haha you're totally allowed to come Julie! Although, maybe it's best you not bring the drums :) We have a set here though...for our Rock Band, so she can still rock out!

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