Who needs cable when the neighbors have thin walls? Apartment dwellers shared the most outrageous things they overhead from their neighbors’ units. Weak sound insulation is an eavesdropper’s dream come true or, in some cases, a terrifying nightmare brought to life. After all, no one likes to have their dirty laundry aired out in the halls for all to see.
Press an ear to the wall and listen in on these juicy tidbits.
1. Who Needs 911 When You Have a Good Neighbor
In college, I lived in a crummy apartment near the school. Halfway to class one day, I realized I forgot a book and rushed back to get it. As I ran up the stairs, I heard yelling. On my way back down, book in hand, I paused to listen. I heard some unintelligible moaning, and eventually heard the words “Help me.”
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. The poor guy was laying in the stairwell, 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. 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.
2. The Touching Art of Motion Picture
My old neighbor was a cam girl, and I could hear absolutely everything she said in every single session for a good four months. I work from home, and it was always a gamble whenever I had to meet with someone virtually.
3. So Much for the Cost of Friendship
I once heard a former roommate laughing with his then-girlfriend about how they were screwing me over on money. Turned out they were taking my “utilities” checks 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 in two months) and moved all my stuff out while they were at work. For good measure, I took myself off the lease and told the rental company about the girlfriend who had been there six months.
4. Blame it on Looney Tune
Years ago, I had an upstairs neighbor. At 2am, every night, I heard 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 don’t know how you have energy at 2am?” He responded with, “Dude, I’ve been working the midnight to 8am shift for 15 years. Doesn’t 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.”
5. Family Moments for the Whole Building
My downstairs neighbors are a couple with a one-year old boy. The baby’s room is right under mine. They speak so sweetly to him that 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.
6. Hold Your Horses
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.”
7. Getting Along Like Thunder and Lightning
My upstairs neighbors take turns zapping each other with a stun gun, hitting the floor, groaning in pain, and then laughing like Beavis and Butthead.
8. So Much for My Free Concert
I 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 hearing 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.
9. Lies Spread Like a Disease
I heard the couple next door arguing. The wife was furious because she realized her husband was cheating on her, but that wasn’t even the worst part. She found out about the affair because she tested positive for chlamydia. He tried to convince her that she must have been the unfaithful one. She still lives there. He doesn’t.
10. Someone Loves a Routine
In our old apartment, our upstairs neighbor had extremely loud, theatrically enthusiastic sex in the middle of the day. The puzzle was that he would stop in the middle, and we’d hear him walk to the bathroom, stay there for a minute or two, and then walk back and resume in the bedroom. It was the same bizarre pattern every time. We could never figure out what that was all about. Any ideas welcomed.
11. Rehearsal Isn’t Everyone’s Relaxation
I heard my neighbors’ 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 guy relieves stress by going crazy on a piano.
12. Living Above an International Conspiracy
I moved from far away, so I have a different state license plate than everyone else who lives in my apartment complex. A couple of days ago, I overheard my upstairs neighbor drunkenly ranting to his wife about what he thinks I’m up to. He’s convinced that I must be on the run from something nefarious. I’m just in grad school lmao.
13. With Care Like This, You’re Better Off Alone
I lived next to a guy who took care of his disabled girlfriend. She stayed home with a nurse while he worked to support them and pay for her healthcare. Everyone really admired him for it. But because I lived next door, I knew the chilling truth. He used to get drunk and tell her that if she doesn’t start putting out, he was going to throw her out.
14. A Sharp Turn at Lover’s Lane
“Gina, I love you! Gina no! Gina, dammit put the knife down!!” At this point, both the apartments next to Gina’s unit called the police. Gina’s husband decided to spend the night elsewhere.
15. This Relationship is Heading for the Bullseye
I lived next to a couple some years ago. 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. From what I could tell, they were playing as a team and the boyfriend wasn’t pulling his weight and was super defensive about it (had an off night, allegedly). The girlfriend was mad that he couldn’t accept she was better. I’m no detective but think they had some relationship issues bigger than darts.
16. Two to Tango, Three to Brawl
The way my old apartments were laid out, the neighbor’s bedroom was right next to my kitchen / dining room. One night, I hear them being intimate while I was fixing dinner. I just turned up the music. Two hours later, I heard the familiar thump thump thump. I think, good for them and bag up the trash. 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 neighbor’s apartment. They moved shortly after that.
17. It’s Good to Get a Third Opinion
When I was younger, I had a tiny apartment in the hood and a raging 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 and 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 so naive and young I had never considered it abuse. That felt so melodramatic, but I realized that my neighbor was right. I 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.
18. Don’t Scratch His Back and He Won’t Scratch Yours
I used to live in a sketchy building, and my landlord lived right underneath me. He was a weird guy, and there were all kinds of rumors about him but I chalked them up to gossip. There were a ton of homeless people in the neighborhood, which was fine, they were just part of the neighborhood and anyone who lived there knew them. A lot of days they would hang out on our front stoop, and no one really cared or made an issue out of it.
Anyway, I would often hear knocks that sounded like they were coming from the windows, not the front door. I would try to run over and catch whoever it was but could never catch anyone in time. So one night, I hear the knocking while I’m in bed and it sounds like it’s from the window right under me to my left. I look down real quick, see one of the regular homeless guys in the neighborhood, and see my landlord open up the door and let him in. So, I lie there listening, wondering what is going on. As clear as day, I hear the homeless guy say to my landlord, “I need something to eat. I was just wondering if you needed a back rub or something.” That’s when I realized all the rumors about my landlord were true.
19. This Threesome Was Really a Foursome
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 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 the couple were bored with their intimate activities so they decided to fulfill a fantasy and invite another man to join them. I guess things worked out for awhile, but when Female A came home early from a work trip, she found Male A and Male B deeply engrossed 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.
20. Living Here is a Job for a Man
My previous apartment was an absolute dump owned by a guy who can most accurately be described by the word “slumlord.” He rented primarily to illegal immigrants/convicted felons/people who would be afraid to complain about the living conditions. I am not an illegal immigrant, nor am I a convicted felon, and I made this landlord’s life hell by demanding that he fix everything that wasn’t up to code and notifying the board of health when he didn’t.
The family to our right was a Mexican family… a couple and their four elementary school-aged children. One night, I heard them arguing about trying to get their family out of this apartment complex and into a better living situation. All of a sudden, the lady yelled, “You didn’t even have the balls to make (the landlord) fix the broken septic tank. Maybe I should be having this conversation with the kid next door!”
I’m pretty sure I laughed loud enough to be heard by the entire complex.
21. Playing the Blame Game and He’s Unfortunately Winning
So! Close to midnight I woke up to a bunch random barking sounds from one of the apartments near me. As I come to, I realize that it’s my neighbors fighting. The man sobbed, “Why would you look at my phone while I’m in the shower?! You should have waited!” Now, if you’ve ever heard a Hispanic woman go off on a guy, the insults start to meld into each other like machine gun fire…
Turns out he’d been cheating a lot and had been gaslighting her for months. Then he caved, “Ok. Yes. I cheated on you. BUT! It’s only because you were being negligent.” She paused for a second, but it felt like a lifetime. I was stunned. This woman is always around, they’re always going on camping trips and doing outdoorsy stuff. It’s not like they work often or long hours.
She began tossing more things, packed her stuff, and left after launching another barrage of insults. They’re still together.
22. I’ll Rise, But I Won’t Shine
I woke up at 6am hearing the sound of a nuclear warning siren on full blast coming from the bedroom wall connected to mine. One minute later, it changes to a car alarm. Next, it’s a whistle and so on for ONE AND A HALF EXCRUCIATING HOURS. I went to work angry (and sleepy), thinking who would leave such a thing on and not be home to turn it off.
It happens again the next morning too, and after 30 minutes of staring at my wall, I go over and knock loudly on the door. No answer. Again, I think who would go on vacation and leave such an obnoxiously loud thing? Alarm? What is happening over there? On the fourth day, I leave a stern letter in the door. Upon returning home, there is a note in my door that reads “I am so sorry I did not realize our walls were so thin and it was waking you up, I just moved in. I am a ‘deep sleeper’ and need this every morning to wake up.” (FROM A COMA?!) “I will try to turn it down some and move it off of our shared wall.”
They did turn it down but I still hear it every morning, FML. Six months later, I moved.
23. The Buffet Line Next Door
I always used to hear my neighbor say “I smell Indian food!!” and come over within 10 seconds. It got to the point where my mom would make extra food just for him and his wife when we did make Indian food. Really nice couple. Hope they’re doing well!
24. Domestic Disturbance is the Universal Language
The most heartbreaking one was two people bickering in a language I didn’t understand while their baby was crying. The crying got more intense as the argument heats up. Suddenly the man explodes in a rage, screams what I can only guess are a stream of obscenities at the top of his lungs, and then I hear stuff being thrown around the apartment.
The only sound I heard after that was the mother sobbing, and the footsteps of the man walking away. You have no idea how relieved I was to hear the baby crying later that night. I couldn’t call the cops because the apartments were set up in such a way that it was diagonally attached to the back and I didn’t know what apartment number it was. It was also in a high drug traffic area, and the cops would never go door to door asking about a baby in the middle of the night at that place.
25. The Nuisance is Coming From Inside the House
My ex and I were drinking a bit and ended up tickling each other for some reason at a campus housing. The upstairs neighbor called it in as a possible domestic violence episode. She felt terrible afterwards and admitted that she was just feeling really paranoid because her husband had left for a military tour. We were casual friends so I’m sure she felt worse.
She wasn’t sure but felt she should call the dean regardless. But then the dean called the police rather than just sending someone to check on us. Our neighbor did make us a ton of cookies the following week to apologize.
26. The One-Note Neighbor
The flat next to me loved to sing along to music. Quite often, I get serenaded through the wall while I’m in the bathroom. Occasionally they get obsessed with a song and just keep playing it over and over again. Last year, I heard “Love Me Again” literally hundreds of times, often six or seven times in a row.
27. Practice Makes Perfect
New duplex neighbor Mark was a freshly divorced white guy in IT that kept to himself. These are studio apartments, so just one big room. I don’t watch TV and lead a pretty quiet life, so Mark’s life became fascinating. We didn’t talk other than the initial introductions where he said he’d begun learning the guitar. Flash forward a couple months: I heard “Seven Nation Army” on repeat, sometimes with really strange voices.
Like, he’d sing the song as a Jamaican Kermit the Frog, sometimes curse at himself, and sometimes I’d heard just a couple ill-timed plucks in between intervals of crying, ranging from small sniffles to heaving, soul-shredding throat-straining animal cries. I would see him taking out the trash and feel like I KNEW him. I could hear his calls to his mom (honest), to his friends (exaggerated and followed by long sighs), to his lawyer (defeated, broken). I heard his pizza order, his views on referee calls, his own rendition of a cooking show when he would describe wetting a paper towel and wrapping leftover pizza in it before microwaving it.
He kept at the guitar nearly every night and could eventually play on time but never really played any other songs, just kept patiently practicing that one. Skip a couple rough months forward to me losing my mind silently through the wall when he played it for his date. My god, I was on the edge of my seat, flailing my arms like a conductor. I felt like a pageant mom. My man played it flawlessly and the girl loved it. I cried. Cried. I don’t know how my emotions got involved but I was so proud of him.
I regret not telling him that I knew when I moved out. Maybe he knew. Mark, you legend, you were right—they couldn’t hold you back. Keep going and don’t doubt yourself, Jamaican Kermit be believing in you mon.
28. Crime Never Pays, But Sometimes It Stays
I had a neighbor get stabbed by an intruder who then jumped off a third story balcony and broke his leg–and that’s just the beginning of the story. I looked out of our balcony just in time to see him slide into some bushes below. The cops show up, and the victim got sent to the hospital (mostly superficial wounds; he ended up being fine). They cased the apartment complex and I told them what I saw. When I pointed out where I had seen him hide, they checked the bush and he was STILL THERE.
He admitted it immediately and was promptly escorted off to jail. Not too bad for a Tuesday night in Middletown Ohio.
29. Dance, Dance, Revolution
So to set the scene, we live in a solid brick block of 4 flats built in the 1960s. This building is going nowhere. We are in one of the downstairs flats and lead a quiet life. Occasionally, we listen to some music, maybe watch some comedy specials on TV and laugh a little loudly, sometimes my girlfriend gets a bit heated while playing video games. Other than that though, just normal domestic lowkey hum.
The neighbor above us is a professional singer who teaches students from home to supplement her income. No problem to us, we usually have headsets on and can’t hear anyway. She also has had a string of fellas that she has had loud screeching intimate time with. Again, no skin off our nose, we make our share of similar noise ourselves. Finally, she is a heel stomper and a possession dropper. We can hear every single step she takes, and every single thing she drops on her floor. You would assume floorboards, right? Wrong. She has carpet laid on a concrete slab.
She is insanely noisy to live under, but we could forgive all of this. Except she sends us blatantly rude texts whenever we make the slightest bit of noise, asking us to tone it down. We are in a Cold War standoff, and no side is set to back down. When we move one day, I am buying a battery speaker and a cheap MP3 player and leaving “Sweet Caroline” (her name) on repeat at full volume. She can deal with that sweet racket until the batteries give up!
30. You’ll Always Have Me, Neighbor
One time I was studying in my apartment but I could hear someone talking so I took off my headphones and listened. It was a girl on the phone, having what sounded like a pretty heated break-up. She said some dumb cliché stuff, like that he’s making a huge mistake, and that’s she’s the best he’ll ever get. I think she said something about her being so great because she was blonde, and he’d never pull off dating another blonde.
Eventually she hung up, and I was like, wow, that was weird, she sounds like such a drama queen. Then I left my room to go to the kitchen, and walked by my roommate’s room… my roommate, who was crying in her room because she’d just broken up with her boyfriend. And I had accidentally eavesdropped her whole break-up. Never did share that bit….
31. Damsel in Another Unit
About a week before I was scheduled to move into a new apartment, the landlord called me and told me the apartment was no longer available. However, there were other units available, and I could come look at them if I wanted. I was pretty mad, because we had already agreed on a unit, but I came and picked out the unit across the hall.
I moved in, and the first day and night went fine. The second night, I’m woken up by the sound of someone banging on the door across the hall. That’s when I learned the disturbing reason behind the landlord’s actions. It turns out the reason the landlord gave the apartment I wanted to someone else is that it was a lady in an abusive relationship who was trying to get away from her abuser, and that unit was the only one immediately available.
Somehow, he found out where she was and started banging on her door. Eventually, she opens the door and they get into a shouting match. He hits the wall a few times and throws some glass bowls down the hallway. She begs him to leave her alone. He threatens to kill her and says he’s gonna leave and go get a gun and come back. He finally leaves, yelling and breaking stuff all the way out. The cops were called. They show up. She seems to blow it off and act like it wasn’t a big deal.
While the cops are there, a few neighbors and I clean up the glass out of the hallway, and as they’re leaving I tell her to let me know if she needs anything. She says she’s not from here and is leaving town the next day. That was a couple months ago. She’s gone, and somebody else lives there now. I don’t really know what happened. He hasn’t been back, and I haven’t seen her since then. I hope she’s alright.
32. He Missed His Shot
I was staying at a place in Downtown Denver, near Sports Authority Field. It was around 10 at night, and me and my friends had just downloaded Just Cause 3 to try the multiplayer mod. Not gonna lie, I had my Skullcandy Crushers at max bass and volume (bad idea). We fire it up and have a blast, blowing stuff up, jetpacking around, etc. About 40 minutes into the session I hear a SUPER loud banging at my door. Like, hella loud. I take my headphones off and get up to check the door…
I open the door to three police officers with their glocks at the half-ready. Was asked if I was the only one in the room (I was) and asked me what I was doing. Told him, and he explained what happened. One of the other tenants had gotten drunk/high and went into the bathroom next to my room…and he took a 9MM with him. Apparently, he shot off a round that punched through the wall of the bathroom and lodged in the wall about 5 inches behind me/above my head.
I called my dad and moved out that night.
33. Home is a Place to Be Alone with Your Thoughts, Unfortunately
Some years back, I had a neighbor who was schizophrenic. He would randomly start yelling threats at people who weren’t there. Truly frightening things like “I’m gonna beat your head in with a baseball bat!!” often in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep. This happened all the time and went on for like a year. At first, I didn’t know of his illness, and thought he actually had people there. Was the only time in my life that I called the police on someone, because I truly believed if I didn’t, someone might have been killed that night. But as it turns out, he was home alone shouting at his own ghosts.
My walls weren’t that thin, either. For me to hear him as clearly as I could, he was really shouting these things. Eventually enough complaints were lodged against him, and the landlord got him evicted. Had to deal with this for over a year, though. Apparently on the day he was supposed to be out, he refused to leave and camped in the apartment. Everybody else in the apartment vacated that day for their safety, and the cops were called in case anything bad happened. Eventually, his dad was able to coax him out.
Hope this guy got the help he desperately needed, but Jesus I’m so glad I don’t live next to him anymore!
34. Get a Load of This Guy
I very frequently heard the neighbors arguing, trash style. Usually it was the woman yelling at the man, who has apparently done some time in prison but for the life of me I could not figure out what this guy would have done; he’s more redneck than thug. He had the stereotypical redneck, but not full-blown country, voice and everything.
Usually their arguments were something where he didn’t think their son was his, she must have cheated on him, etc. Typical trash arguments. Well one day I heard them going back and forth again. Not really phased by it anymore, I went to pee in our bathroom that happens to share a wall with them. Whilst sitting there I heard the woman’s voice yelling, somewhat muffled. Then CLEAR AS DAY I hear the man yell the most hilarious thing back:
“I am ACT-UAL-LY POOPING!”
I swear it sound like he was not even a foot away from me, as he probably wasn’t. I let out a HEARTY laugh that I’m sure he heard.
I have no idea what led them to that point, but I’m glad I was there to experience that moment.
35. It Takes a Chorus to Sublet a Room
There was a bit of a mystery in the apartment that my parents rented for a short time. I’d often hear singing. It was a woman’s voice coming usually from the apartment above us, but as far as I knew, the only stuff in that unit was a single man and a forest of exercise equipment. Sometimes it would be two voices overlapping. Sometimes it would be a different voice. Sometimes it came from the adjacent apartment instead of the one above us. Sometimes it sounded like actual melodies, other times just random humming. Sometimes it would last for hours, other times just twenty minutes or so. It was always different times of day. We never found out where, who, or what is was coming from.
36. Don’t Wait Up for Marvel
Lived in a house that was rented out as a duplex. Only separation was doors that were locked on both sides. Needless to say, we heard everything. The man next door always came quickly, and the women would literally beg him to keep going but I never heard her actually finish. Lol, hopefully they worked that out.
The best was, one time I overheard him playing with dolls or action figures when he was home alone. It was more role playing than playing, I guess. I heard him play out scenarios involving himself but he referred to himself as “b-money” Like “then b-money swooped in and saved everyone there”… It was amazing. Hahaha.
37. A Helping Hand from Far Away
While stationed in Germany, I lived in this apartment busing that had four floors. I lived on the top floor. The layouts of the apartments were the same for one side, and the bathroom was right by the doors of the apartments. There was this couple that lived two floors beneath me. We all knew that this guy abused his wife some way or another; we never saw her, and she was a complete shut-in. We called the police multiple times, but of course with no evidence, they couldn’t do anything.
One time on my way up, I heard him yelling, as always. I usually paused by the door to see if I could hear her in distress. Well, as I paused by the door, I heard this piece of human garbage yell something truly chilling across his apartment: “You don’t have to cut yourself just because I hit you!” Apparently, the poor girl was in the bathroom cutting herself because she was so tired of being abused.
I called the police promptly. I knew about how long they’d take to get there, so right before they showed up, I began pounding on his door. He answered it, angrily. I immediately laid into him. The whole neighborhood could hear me, even the MPs when they got there. He went to jail and was kicked out; she went to the hospital. I’m just really thankful that I stopped and listened.
38. Wet and Wild
My upstairs neighbors yelled “bad dog” at their dog so loud that my dog ran into a corner and peed.
39. So Much for Doctor Neighbor Confidentiality
Once while I was waiting to see my doctor, I heard the nurse in the other room say, “Well, sir, that certainly doesn’t look like herpes.” But that’s not even the worst part. If we could hear that so clearly, they could definitely hear us laughing after.
40. Dumping Buddies
Our bathrooms were back to back. There’s nothing like going on a “bombing run” with your neighbor.
41. Snot in Translation
Some girl was singing in some language I didn’t understand. She was singing beautifully. Suddenly I hear:
(Singing) Aaaaaa-ah-ah ACHOO
(Silence) HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA snort
She was laughing so hard, I started laughing. I hope she didn’t hear me.
42. Mind the Gap(s)
My neighbor has her mother living next door to her and they fight all the time. One time, the mother started screaming “I should never have poked holes in the condom!!!”