What's the best way to handle really noisy neighbors in Taiwan?

Hey all

So, I’ve been here in Taiwan for about 4-5 months now. (Well, Taichung to be specific.) My mom lives here and I live in America. Anyway, I came back this time because she recently was diagnosed with a form of stomach cancer and had a major operation to remove the tumor. It went amazingly well and now she’s in full recovery mode back at home. But the frustrating thing is, there’s a large family that lives above us. I think it’s the grandparents, the parents, and their 2 kids. And they’re so so so incredibly loud, like I’ve never experienced before. I mean, I grew up in Los Angeles and lived in apartments a majority of my life, but living under this family, it’s a whole new kind of noisy. Their kids just run around all day causing the ceilings and walls to shake (not to mention the adults who walk around like elephants), they blast their tv super loud and recently, the grandmother has taken to listening to Taiwanese music really loudly at the most odd hours of the night.

I at first figured they probably had no idea they were being so loud so I wanted to try to be respectful and neighborly. I went and bought a few pairs of really comfortable cloth slippers and thought that it might be a good idea to suggest wearing them in the house to help cushion their walking a bit. Like, these slipper were comfy and weren’t cheap at all. So, I went up with my mother (she had to do most of the talking as my Chinese is ok but definitely not good enough to have this kind of conversation) and we went to talk to them. Immediately, they became super defensive and insisted there was nothing they could do. In fact, after giving them the slippers, the grandmother of the group got angry and told my mother she doesn’t need our charity and how awful it was for us to assume they couldn’t afford to buy their own slippers. It was CRAZY! I was thinking maybe it was a misunderstanding, so I tried to explain the best I could in my awful Chinese, but she was just livid. Eventually, I took my mom back to our apartment contacted the building lobby attendant to see if he could help mediate the situation. Instead, he told us to contact the community president, who then basically suggested we should try to apologize for insulting the neighbors upstairs. Guys and girls, I’m seriously dumbfounded. And more than once, I would get a comment like “It’s because you’re from America, so you don’t understand how things are done here.” Like I keep trying to tell them “My mom is recovering from fucking cancer surgery. Can’t someone just tell them to quiet down a little bit?”

I mean, if this were America and or I was able to communicate more effectively, I probably would have just gotten the police involved in terms of filing noise complaints. But here, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I don’t think anyone is willing to help us; I simply just want my mom to be able to get some decent rest. So, if anyone can offer suggestions or has dealt with noisy neighbors in Taiwan, please let me know. Thank you!


I agree. Seriously, if you’re renting, moving is the least stressful option. And the last thing your mum needs is stress right now. Tell your landlord the noise is unbearable and ask for your deposit back.

The slippers thing probably wasn’t the best move. But yeah, they obviously don’t know or care how noisy they are, so what’s the point? Noisy neighbours are just assholes, whatever country you’re in. There’s nothing unique about Taiwanese people.

No point filing a noise complaint. The police might come over (if they can be bothered), have a quiet chat with the neighbours about the funny American, and then it’ll all kick off again. But seriously, what could they even do? If the kids are undisciplined little monsters and grandma is losing her marbles, this family are fundamentally unfixable.

I doubt you’ll get your deposit back, but sometimes you have to just cut your losses for the sake of your sanity.

Do you still have those slippers?
If you don’t need them, and …mm nobody wants them uh maybe you could sent them to me? :smiley:

Sorry to hear your story, but gifts in Asia is a complicated issue. Always ask before making any move like that.

Anyhow, you can get your deposit back. There is a solid complain about the living condition and you should get your money back.

Sorry to hear of your hassles. You’re wasting your time with the police, so I wouldn’t even put yourself through the stress of thinking about that route. I’d move…

While i sympathize with your plight, OP, do you realize why they think your gift was insulting? Did you know what giving shoes/slippers means you want them to go away? Truly, they may be not the most educated bunch, and now you have a rowdy mob angry at you.

These neighborhood issues are dealt with the neighborhood chief. It goes back to the clan arrangements and decision making. You need first to have the lizhang or neighborhood chief to understand the gravity of the situation -a sick person needs rest- not as it is coming right now, that the outsider is making waves and feeling superior. Then, both of you, as said, with gifts, can try to smooth things over. But yes, you do have a problem.

Police are called only when noise goes over midnight.

“But in America…” this is taiwan, where living at close quarters makes people more “flexible” -resilient, I’d say- regarding noise. Right now I have a neighbor practicing the trombone. It used to be the harmonica. His music abilities have not improved with the change of instrument. So things can get much worse, OP, try to smooth things over the holidays, which are the perfect season, as you are not supposed to fight/say bad words/get angry during the celebrations.

Otherwise, yes, you’ll have to move. Things can get ugly.

… except the upstairs neighbours!

I did use the soft slippers approach years ago when my then upstairs neighbor was making a lot of noise. Well, it wasn’t so much her making a lot of noise as the thin floors of the building allowing her footsteps to be audible, so her every step was a clear thump over my head. When I presented the slippers to her after politely explaining the problem, she felt kind of embarrassed and accepted them. Ever since then, the noise went down drastically. So the approach worked for me. I guess having sensible neighbors is a crapshoot. Good luck!

[quote=“finley”]The slippers thing probably wasn’t the best move. But yeah, they obviously don’t know or care how noisy they are, so what’s the point? Noisy neighbours are just assholes, whatever country you’re in. There’s nothing unique about Taiwanese people.

No point filing a noise complaint. The police might come over (if they can be bothered), have a quiet chat with the neighbours about the funny American, and then it’ll all kick off again. But seriously, what could they even do? If the kids are undisciplined little monsters and grandma is losing her marbles, this family are fundamentally unfixable.

I doubt you’ll get your deposit back, but sometimes you have to just cut your losses for the sake of your sanity.[/quote]

I agree the “gift” is a very bad idea and with them being mad its hard now, as mentioned by others moving if an option is a good choice. Also I am Asian-American from SoCal, I would not think to call the police first without talking to the family or building/apartment mgr. in California or Taiwan. Here in Taiwan, I live in a multi store house, the 1st floor is a car port, with electric metal door, it does make some noise. One family next to use asked us nicely, if we could try to not use it late a late, and we try after knowing the noise bothers them. If they had called the police or gave us some strange gift I would maybe not be as happy (even a bit resentful) that they did not just chat/talk with us before they did that to let us know.
All that being said, as mentioned I am in in 4 level house, I can not hear walking or other noises from the upper floors (I can hear it from the open doors though), so maybe its just the building being not so sound proof, and if its that case then moving maybe the only option.

You will lose in about 90% of these situations, and you’ve already lost.

You can either “get heavy” if you’re willing. This would not involve the cops, who will do nothing but laugh at you if you complain. Or, you can learn to put up with it or cope. Or, you can move. I’m afraid you don’t have another choice.

The slippers was a very bad idea, even for a culturally ignorant American. Is the OP for real?

Maybe they were simply very upset that the slippers were made in China? “Made in Taiwan not good enough for you, Hey?”

Actually my neighbours called the police on me Saturday night. It was only 10pm and we were not that loud. Was surprised the police bothered to come. They came inside and checked ID and all.

I always think written letters are the best way forward in any tight situation. It gives everyone a chance to think, breathe, and sleep on the situation.


How come nobody gives me slippers?
Surely, I can be loud enough.
I feel like I’m missing out.

Was it a waiguoren party? Everyone knows waiguorens are up to no good and their parties are loud… never mind karaoke without autotune/in the wrong key or fireworks at midnight.

BTW, folks, our 3rd floor is open for rent. I assure you the trombone guy won’t practice beyond 9pm. However, you will wish he practiced more… maybe it would have some effect on the outcome.

I almost wish someone would send police round to my place just so I could tell them to fuck off. Deal with the dogs on the corner of the street, and we can talk about my volume.

To the OP: sorry to hear you’ve encountered a fairly typical situation in this place. Lots of people in Taiwan* are batshit insane ignorant fuckos who don’t give two shits about their neighbors, and if you try calling the police you’re going to find your blood pressure going up really quickly. You see, Taiwan has laws on noise pollution, but non-industrial noise pollution is not a criminal offense and the laws don’t specify any goddamn PUNISHMENTS for the noisemakers. So even though they’re not allowed to make noise, you can’t legally do anything about it. Someone above implied going the illegal route, and I have the feeling that it’s the only way to deal with the kind of people who don’t give a shit.

*Of course, there are batshit insane fuckos in every country - I had one as a neighbor in Canada: he erected a gigantic cross in the apartment complex’s public property after the concierge’s son had offed himself and spent most nights drinking and using drugs. Offered to show me where he kept his money hidden when I asked him to keep it down and also wanted to help me electrify my balcony with a car battery to prevent robbers getting in (even though I didn’t have a balcony, as I was in a sub-basement…). However, having spent most of my adult life in THIS country I’m mostly only familiar with the Taiwanese brand of ignorant fuckstick and dealing with them is especially frustrating and upsetting: it often seems like there’s NO justice and just an overwhelming sense of helplessness and 沒辦法.

The symptoms you describe are textbook old building. Your ceiling is most probably the same surface as their floor, and thus you can hear every single step, every single musical choice, and even the farts of their pet hamster, if they have any. Even if you have a false ceiling, it’s not near enough. Even if they’re not aware of the noise, it might seem so because the building is far from being soundproof.

In the modern buildings, they often use false ceilings, and sometimes they will use floating floors, which have a thin foam layer under them, that practically kills all steps and sounds coming off the apartment. That’s not usually the case in old buildings.

If you’re renting the apartment, I think the smartest move would be to contact the owner and explain the situation, say the noise is unbearable and that you can’t possibly live in there if things don’t change. Tell him that if he can smooth out the situation, you’re willing to stay, but if not, ask for the deposit and look for another place. If the owner wants to keep you there, he’ll probably speak to whoever he has to to fix the thing.

i would be insulted by that gift an all! being told to wear slippers would be less insulting that actually being bought them.

i learn’t the hard way not to mess with your asian neighbours.

when i was living in china my company moved me to a new extremely shitty apartment. the washing machine actually leaked down into the house below when in use. after using it for the first time the old bags from below knocked on our door and went mental… my chinese room mate did not seem phased at all by the scathing attack! i asked to have it fixed but jack shit was done about it. i really needed to wash my clothes, and i was leaving soon so i didn’t really care about the repercussions and used it… the woman was banging the shit out of my door for like 2 hours straight! i put on a movie and tried to zone it out…

A resident on the Ground Floor of our building died (went to sleep one afternoon and failed to wake up - good way to go actually) a few weeks ago. This guy (in his 50’s I guess) was one of the over the top god fearing/challenging types - just seeing the entrance to the apartment was enough, like a temple it was, and he could be heard ‘challenging’ his ‘god’ every few days (when I first heard him a few years back I thought he had just had a few drinks and was abusing his wife, until I arrived home once and saw him in action before his shrine). The daily burning of ghost money (they must have burned millions!!!) didn’t help him it seems.

We knew something odd was happening when people started erecting a ‘tent’ in the space between the two buildings that form the complex around 9pm. We found out about the death the following day. Then the ‘mourning sessions’ started, usually once a day at odd times between 8am and 10pm when visitors came, noisy for an hour maybe, but not so bad.

After a couple of weeks, the ‘funeral’ was held, lots of noise and visitors in yellow smocks and pointy hats - nobody game to say ‘boo’ to them of course, not the management or security, so the rest of us just grimaced and got out the earplugs, knowing it would cease soon. (We did entertain the thought of giving our balcony its yearly hose down (and thus raining on the funeral party), but thought better of that). Thankfully on the final day they moved out to a streetfront setup so that they could ‘send him off’ to the passing traffic. Then it was over, the tent quickly packed up, and I notice that the ‘temple’ has disappeared from the entrance to he now widowed wife’s apartment as well - seems that now husband has gone, she can have some peace.