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Old 29.09.2006, 23:19
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"Bad" neighbours

I moved to my apartment (4,5 zimmer) 22 months ago. This is privately rented so no verwaltung.

First year was ok. My son was slightly over 1 year old by end 2005.
Then he began walking and now running.
The guy who lived below us (we are at level 1), started to complain about the noise my son makes while he was home. My son runs around in the apartment, being only 2 years old, and the wooden parkett floor enhances the sound.
Worse than that, the neighbour is a taxi driver, night shift, he sleeps like Vampire (during daytime).
He came to my home like 10 times, each time more aggressive than the last.

First few times, I apologised and said I will do my best to control son. After the 5th time, I lost my patience and diplomacy. He accused us of not doing anything about it (actually I hated myself for disciplining my son for doing a natural thing for a child his age : running around and playing).
Then on Sunday, this man said it is "Ruhetag" and we must maintain absolute quiet. He said he will ring our bell EACH TIME he is disturbed, til I change my floor to carpet or stop my son running around. He said he wanted to sleep.

I flipped.

I closed the door. Next day, I called the police, explained the problem. I also asked if Ruhetag = Quiet day meaning no noise at all. She said in this case, the man was unreasonable to ask us to be Library-quiet. She also advised us to ignore the man and refer him to the police station where he will be counselled.

Since then, the man did not come no more.

2nd neighbour: old widow living above us. She once played Italian opera at full volume from 930pm to 1020pm. My son could not sleep. I went up to her, and softly asked her to turn down the volume. She appeared to be crying, said her husband just died and she needed the music. Alarmed and ashamed, i gave this stranger a hug and went home.
The next week, water came running down the balcony (summer time). I ran up, and asked her please do not water too much water, the water comes into my balcony, i cannot sit there, plus my laundry is wet. She said ok.
2 weeks later, same water problem. I went up again, this time she was very very unhappy, said I am complaint king. Small thing only. She rebutted she did not complain when my son was crying at night.
I flipped, cos my son DID not make much noise at nights. He sleeps very well.
She was just arguing for sake of arguing.

1 year passed. She did the same thing with water again. This time, she denied she watered, even dragged me in to see her balcony. Problem is, she did water, and she plainly (sort of weirdly) insisted she did not. I showed her the water place, she drove me out, shouting berzerkly. really.
She started to scream, saying I cannot tell her what she can or cannot do (a swiss and an owner of apartment, and I am just renter) . She even said I was going against swiss rules to tell her off.
She managed to convince the house owner (my apartment) that I was a nuisance. He agreed with her (one face) but when she left, he told me to ignore and forgive this mad woman.

Swiss neighbours....(not swiss bashing).
Now I am looking for new residence, probably buying my own garden wohnung or house.

TAN
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Old 30.09.2006, 00:24
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

The appartment block where I live is mostly non-swiss and until recently I thought that the most holy of things (the washing rota) was largely ignored.

Our block is very well equipped with 8 washing machines and 8 dryers. Normally they are empty for much of the week which is when the wash rota is in effect. At the weekend the machines are all running more or less non stop.

One particular week I had to wash something and it wasn't my day. But that was ok because, as usual, most of the machines were empty. So I picked a machine started it running and went off back to my appartment. I went back an hour later to transfer the clothes to the dryer only to find that my soaking wet clothes had been taken out of the washing machine which was now running with somebody elses laundry. On top of that there was a little note which read "Dear Neighbour, please be aware that this machine is booked for my use at this time".

The really stupid thing was that this was now the only machine that was in operation and they could have quite easily chosen one of the other 7.

I showed an awful lot of restraint that night.
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Old 30.09.2006, 03:05
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Re your downstairs neighbour:

Maybe it's connected to the fact this country has such a low birth rate, but yeah i've heard all of those stories from my colleague who has a 2 and 3.5 yr old, living slightly out of town. No patience from the childless locals (especially for foreign kids).

It turns out that if your neighbour keeps complaining and starts asking for you to be booted out due to child noise, it will take something like 4 yrs from the first ask. It's more a question of how long can you put up with it (and how militant are you about it?). They'll certainly get sick of the noise faster than they can push you out.

The attempted point of my post, is that if you're unfortunate enough to have that kind of neighbour, take comfort in the fact they can't push you out easily. Even if you're singing in the shower, after taking a very noisy (Argh!) dump, in the middle of the night. If you can put it to the back of your mind, it is only them that will suffer.
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Old 30.09.2006, 09:18
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

In an apartment block you can actually make as much noise as you like as long as it's not between 22:00 & 07:00 when you need to be quiet. I have a friend who tested this when he got fed up with his downstairs neighbour compaining about every little sound. He started playing his music very loud every time the guy downstairs complained but on the dot of 22:00 would swith it off. When the complainer complained to the landlord he was told that nothing could be done as the 22:00 rule was being obeyed
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Old 30.09.2006, 11:02
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Quote:
In an apartment block you can actually make as much noise as you like as long as it's not between 22:00 & 07:00 when you need to be quiet. I have a friend who tested this when he got fed up with his downstairs neighbour compaining about every little sound. He started playing his music very loud every time the guy downstairs complained but on the dot of 22:00 would swith it off. When the complainer complained to the landlord he was told that nothing could be done as the 22:00 rule was being obeyed
Be careful with that, though, not all buildings are the same.

Our lease stipulates quiet time begins at 21.00 not 22.00, and afternoon quiet of 12.00 - 14.00 is also enforced strictly.

We live below the backup hauswaertin, and were drilling on our balcony one summer evening just before the cut off. We were drilling the last hole at 1 minute until 21.00, when her boyfriend came down and yelled at us, telling us to do things like that "during the day like normal people do" . They're retired, so I guess normal people to them are retired people who are home all day.
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Old 30.09.2006, 12:08
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

I have to say that were I the one with a night-time job and had been able to sleep quite happily in the day for a number of years and then the people upstair's child started waking me up by running round up there on bare wood floors, I'd complain too.

There are two sides to every story...
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Old 30.09.2006, 12:12
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Quote:
I have to say that were I the one with a night-time job and had been able to sleep quite happily in the day for a number of years and then the people upstair's child started waking me up by running round up there on bare wood floors, I'd complain too.

There are two sides to every story...
Yes, but as much as little-kid sounds annoy me, the sound of them running around and playing with their toys are normal household noise. (screaming and bellowing for no reason is *not* normal noise and I'd like to gag neighbors in the building behind us for that...but that's another story ).

If I were the taxi driver, I'd be upset too. But it is within the family's rights to let their toddler play under reasonable and normal circumstances.
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Old 30.09.2006, 19:25
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Evilshell- is it legal for your lease to effectively give tigher laws than the community sets? If you were to make noise at 21:30, the police wouldn't be able to do anything about it now would they? They couldn't throw you out of the house for noise unless the police made a record of the complaint?

Have to also agree with AdFab on that point. I know that one technically can't control a child, so it's nobody's fault, but life can be hell for the person on the receiving end of it.

I once lived in a place in Sydney with kids upstairs. I think there is some sort of building regulation there only ground floor places can have parket floor, and all floors above must have carpet (for the comfort of those below). I could be wrong about this, and I'm sure someone is going to jump in and tell me about their second-floor apartment in Sydney with a parket floor, but anyway....

So I assume that the guy above me had carpet, but it was still unbearable. I'm a light sleeper and every morning at 5:30-6:00 the kids would run up and down the corridor, right near the point above my bedroom. I never complained to the neighbour - how could I? I mean kids are kids. But I did eventually move out, and my landlord allowed me to terminate the lease early on the grounds that I couldn't have any peace and quiet.

So if you are above your neighbour and you don't have carpet then he's stuck in a pretty miserable situation. Sadly for him, there's nothing he can do about it apart from move. As for the woman above you with the plants, no excuses there.

It just goes to show how different people's experiences can differ in Switzerland. I often read through the thread about what people love about Switzerland - I can't say I agree with all the points. Often people say that one of the things they love about Switzerland is neighbours. Your experience proves that it's not all roses... Mind you, your neighbour below probably isn't exactly thinking that you are a wonderful neighbour either.

Have you thought about trying to reach a compromise solution? For example, maybe the landlord would agree to put in carpets? The problem is that many Swiss have a real thing about not wanting carpets - they think they will somehow be overcome with disease. Seems to be closely related to their fear of aircon, drafts and everything else which is guaranteed to give you (in their eyes) an early death (note there is no fear of smoking though!)
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Old 30.09.2006, 20:50
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Quote:
Evilshell- is it legal for your lease to effectively give tigher laws than the community sets? If you were to make noise at 21:30, the police wouldn't be able to do anything about it now would they? They couldn't throw you out of the house for noise unless the police made a record of the complaint?
That's something we've wondered, too. We do break the "rules" and take showers up until 10, but nobody's said anything. Interestingly, laundry is permitted until 10.

Of course, we're heading into one of my pet peeves about living in Switzerland...but that's been covered on another thread, I think.

Quote:
Have to also agree with AdFab on that point. I know that one technically can't control a child, so it's nobody's fault, but life can be hell for the person on the receiving end of it.

...

So I assume that the guy above me had carpet, but it was still unbearable. I'm a light sleeper and every morning at 5:30-6:00 the kids would run up and down the corridor, right near the point above my bedroom. I never complained to the neighbour - how could I? I mean kids are kids. But I did eventually move out, and my landlord allowed me to terminate the lease early on the grounds that I couldn't have any peace and quiet.
I completely agree. It just isn't something you really have the right to complain about if it is normal kid noise. (the little brats who live in the building behind us and bellow to the 5th floor balconies from the garden until grandma comes out and bellows back are the ones I'm ready to buy gags for). I'd handle it like you, though.

Quote:
Have you thought about trying to reach a compromise solution? For example, maybe the landlord would agree to put in carpets? The problem is that many Swiss have a real thing about not wanting carpets - they think they will somehow be overcome with disease. Seems to be closely related to their fear of aircon, drafts and everything else which is guaranteed to give you (in their eyes) an early death (note there is no fear of smoking though!)
That's one Swiss trait I do love. I hate carpeting.

The air conditioning, or more so the drafts thing, is just incomprehensible to me. One woman I've noted will stand around and sneeze until the offending window is closed - never saying anything or asking, just sneezing.

Last edited by evilshell; 30.09.2006 at 23:03.
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Old 30.09.2006, 22:54
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

I've been on both sides of the kid thing. I had a neighbour in Texas with a kid who had one volume: loud. I could hear her in my house, with windows and doors shut. It completely sucked to be in a detached home, have a headache and have literally no room in my house where I could not hear her scream.

I'm now a parent myself. Doesn't change my thoughts about my neighbour's kid one wit . I don't think the mother did enough to try to teach her daughter consideration. It's a huge peeve of mine for people to think along the lines of - when the kid's [fill in the blank: outside, in their own apartment, etc.] anything goes.

I have a typical almost two year old. Sometimes she likes to stomp her feet, because she's still tickled about the fact that she can walk and run and stomping is just so cool when you've just learned how to do it. So we are focusing our real estate searching efforts on ground floor flats if it's a multifamily situation. We also are looking carefully at every floor plan for where the adjacent walls are between neighbours. We don't like to be bothered by the noise of others, so we try to make sure we extend the same courtesy to others. But at the end of the day, there will inevitably be times when she shreiks with delight in a stairwell or does something else that can impact those around us. In those moments all we can do is use it as a teaching moment to try to explain that we have to show consideration for those around us, and hope that anyone who is disturbed will appreciate that we are making the effort to raise her to be considerate of others. (my current battle is convincing her that it's not nice to stand on my bare feet with her shoes on, no matter how much fun it is or how unintentional it was ).

Like Mark, as a renter I've moved flats before because of being unable to find the happy balance between my and my neighbour's definitions of reasonable on the noise issue. At the end of the day, I see all housing situations as a crap shoot. You just do your best and hope you get lucky.

If outdoor burning is not allowed in urban areas in Switzerland like it is in England , I'll be a happy camper.
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Old 01.10.2006, 12:30
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

I have seen a lot of outdoor burning smack in the middle of a community. It was done by Swiss so maybe it is allowed .

I do not like carpets either but what about a loose one? Like those from Ikea, maybe you can buy one for the kids room so he can run around on that? I think one way or the other you need to find some compromise. One other thing, the lady upstairs, perhaps she is in the early stages of Alzheimers and does not remember what she has done, or should not do with regards to the plant watering....?
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Old 02.10.2006, 10:56
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Quote:
I do not like carpets either but what about a loose one? Like those from Ikea, maybe you can buy one for the kids room so he can run around on that? I think one way or the other you need to find some compromise.
While you're at it, buy him some ear plugs too.

I think we've been extremely lucky living in an old apartment building with thick walls. We had neighbours with a baby and toddler for almost 2 years and didn't even hear a peep when they had the kid's birthday party.

But the place we lived in Olten - we used to hear the upstairs people go to toilet in the morning. Wasn't very pleasant, but nothing to complain about.

~ N
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Old 02.10.2006, 15:40
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

My last apartment was a building full of retired people so me(37) and my husband(41) were the only joung there, when we decided to move they were upset because was the only time they have fun.

Current apartment is next to the school and when they have party that runs till 5am and nobody complains, we can wash on sunday or at midnight, no matter what here you don't have complains and most of them are Swiss here.

I just been LUCKY!
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Old 02.10.2006, 16:11
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Thanks for all the replies and all the support.
I did not scrutinise all texts, but I gathered the general feelings here.

To be honest, I am an anti-social neighbour myself, but I keep to my family and bothers no one else. I discipline my son, and he is actually very obedient at age 2.5. You will be amazed how obedient he is, too obedient that I feel sorry he cannot run around, stomping his feet.

We are polite, very polite to the people we meet, neighbours and all. However I believe I am more courteous and sincere than most of them. The neighbour below, his wife complained that she needs to sleep til 8plus as she goes to work at 9am.
We wakeup at 630am each day, to start our day. With normal noises (not loud music or playing drums), yet she complained, asked me to install carpets.

The cranky old woman upstairs, insisted to speak Swiss German with me (in arguments) when she is the only English speaker in this Multifamily house (cool huh).
She also pre-complained about my daughter even before she is born. Said I should watch out when my baby daughter is born and when she cries at night(1 month before Sarah was born) when I confronted her "gently" with her water coming over my laundry in my balcony. Evil she is. Really, no other words.

I have met another foreigner who lives near me. To my honest surprise, other old neighbours complained to him about his 10 year old son. Same treatment. And his dog, and finally he exploded and asked them to shut up and "f" off, they then left this family alone. He lived in apartment for about same time as me.

Being foreign and a renter, is easy target for bully in this close society. Sorry but this is my perception of this truth.

TAN
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Old 02.10.2006, 19:40
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

It does appear that bullying foreigners is a pastime for some Swiss.

We've lived in our present place - top floor of a 6 story apartment block - for about 5 years and never once had a problem with a neighbour. Now and again there have been students on the 3rd floor and the occasional noisy part but nothing to get upset about.

I play my Fasnacht piccolo each night and nobody has been to complain about that either.

I did hear of one friend who had lived in apartment block in total harmony with the neighbours - mainly Swiss; then a couple moved in who decided to pick on every pin dropping etc etc. I believe they gave up when they realised they were outnumbered.

With reference to "Nachtrühe", the basic idea is you aren't supposed to play your electric guitar at 120dB. You are still allowed to make "normal" noise like cooking, watching TV etc. So the person who got told off for making breakfast at 6am - tell your neighbour where to go.

Cheers,
Nick
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Old 02.10.2006, 20:01
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Quote:
It does appear that bullying foreigners is a pastime for some Swiss.
I guess I should be very thankful then! I had lived in 3 different cantons (FR, BE, AG) & different sets of neighbors and I haven't experienced bullying here at all. On the contrary, I have neighbors would offer helping me carry grocery stuff from the ground floor to 3rd floor! So, I really had the impression that people here are generally helpful & friendly.. until I read this post..
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Old 02.10.2006, 20:32
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

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I guess I should be very thankful then! I had lived in 3 different cantons (FR, BE, AG) & different sets of neighbors and I haven't experienced bullying here at all. On the contrary, I have neighbors would offer helping me carry grocery stuff from the ground floor to 3rd floor! So, I really had the impression that people here are generally helpful & friendly.. until I read this post..
That's generally the downside of these posts, they seem to often make generalizations. I also have had nothing but good experiences with neighbors here, one even goes so far as to cook for me when she knows my wife is out of town because she thinks that as a male, I'm unable to care for myself without a woman. I'm in no hurry to prove her wrong, she's a great cook! In my experience, people here are much more friendly and helpful than in the US as well.

Good experiences are the norm, bad experiences are unfortunate, but probably happen everywhere relatively equally.

For instance, I once had a landlord unlawfully enter my apartment, abuse my dog (A vicious female golden retriever, no less), and physically threaten my wife while yelling racial slurs. But, that was in lovely, tolerant California so I guess it doesn't count.
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Old 02.10.2006, 23:47
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

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Good experiences are the norm, bad experiences are unfortunate, but probably happen everywhere relatively equally.
This demonstrates an interesting point about human behaviour - and we see it playing out time after time on this forum. People tend to think that their experience of Switzerland is the "right" one, and people who have different experiences are somehow mistaken, because it undermines the beliefs they have built up. Some people form very strong opinions (good or bad) after a very short time in Switzerland and then start defending them to the hilt.

The forum is a good place for the rose-coloured glasses crowd to see that bad things happen to other people - and the reverse - the complainers see that other people have positive experiences here.

I think when it comes to neighbours we tend to see what we consider "extreme" behaviour coming out more often. There are a lot of stories of really nice neighbours folding washing, looking after children. There are also a lot of horror stories.

In my case I've been really lucky, but I do understand if others haven't had the same experience. In fact my only real problem neighbour is an American whose normal voice weighs in at around 110db. Maybe he's even reading the forum - if so - next time you shout at my girlfriend to "f... off" after she politely asks you asks you to stop yelling on your balcony after midnight and I visit you for an explanation - you won't be slamming your door in my face a second time... hehehe. Maybe he will read this - in which case - you know who you are!
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Old 03.10.2006, 07:37
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

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<snip> People tend to think that their experience of Switzerland is the "right" one, and people who have different experiences are somehow mistaken, because it undermines the beliefs they have built up. <snip>
In my case I've been really lucky, but I do understand if others haven't
For what it's worth I had far more problems with various neighbours over the years in the UK (living in our own house) than I have ever experienced in Switzerland...
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Old 03.10.2006, 08:50
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Re: Sh*tty neighbours

Quote:
This demonstrates an interesting point about human behaviour - and we see it playing out time after time on this forum. People tend to think that their experience of Switzerland is the "right" one, and people who have different experiences are somehow mistaken, because it undermines the beliefs they have built up. Some people form very strong opinions (good or bad) after a very short time in Switzerland and then start defending them to the hilt.
I don't feel that my experience is the right one, nor do I feel that anyone's "bad" experience is less valid than my own "good" experiences, but I think it's perfectly acceptable to post good experiences along with the bad, mainly because people tend to complain far more often than they praise. No one gives a shit about people's good experiences, just the bad ones, and this leads people to believe that having shitty neighbors is the norm.
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