What floor of a typical highrise apartment or condominium escapes traffic noise completely?

I bicycled into Grand Tetons National Park when the roads were closed to automobile traffic. For around 5 hours, I didn’t see or hear another human being. I think I heard one airplane during this entire time. It was a surreal experience.

I think the location with respect to major streets, freeway entrances, and traffic signals is probably at least as important as building height. Especially traffic signals–they are more for the people that want to use your street as a thoroughfare than they are for you and your neighbors.

The sound will get whiter, to be sure, and therefore probably less obnoxious, but the total volume will stay the same until you get to a height comparable to the width of the urban area.

Odd. We did the same inner city-to suburb move (though not exactly Wisconsin) and are not quite an hour outside NYC. We have total/true silence all the time. Not constantly (there’s Newburgh airport, but it closes at night, the occasional hunter, a dog here or there), but tramping around in our back acres can hide ours and our neighbors’ basic house’s sounds. We’re on a quiet, mile-long cul-de-sac with 5-10 acre lots so car traffic during the day (and particularly at night) is minimal. As long as a tree isn’t falling in the forest, 15-minute periods pass by all the time without any man-made sounds. I can’t imagine this is a unique thing to our area, and to think that there’s only about a dozen places that fit this criterion kind of stretches credulity.

Actually, the wind is significantly worse than the sound of traffic. On really windy days and during storms, etc. the noise is deafening if you are in very tall buildings. My office is on the 27th floor and it is rare for me to hear anything from the street below but the wind can be brutal. I once stayed in a hotel on the 25th floor in Manhattan and the wind made it so loud I couldn’t sleep. It sounded like I was trying to sleep in a very busy train tunnel.

I’ve lived in basement apartments and they do reduce noise by quite a lot, but I will warn you that if you are in a basement apartment remember that you are at the bottom of a lot of water. In the event of a busted pipe or overflowing boiler you are so beyond screwed. If you don’t like the city noise the best option is to move slightly outside of the city. If you move out to Westchester county instead of living in NYC you probably don’t hear a sound on the streets at night. You don’t get the benefits that come with living in the city either, but for some people that is a worthwhile trade-off.

Sound can come in through a balcony or window and reflect back to you through the ceiling. Soundproofing the ceiling can be a smart choice in such situations.

This is probably the best answer you’re going to get. My ex’s brother lived on the uhhh… 22nd-ish floor of a condo on Lake Shore Drive, tons of loud traffic at street level. You could hear traffic while outside on his balcony, but once you closed the patio door, inside it was silent. Good windows and thick walls.

Generic non-decaying radiation from an infinite plane-source will of course be constant at any distance from the plane, as the inverse-square attentuation due to spreading is exactly balanced by having more of the plane exposed.

But I believe that, what with the friction from moving air molecules back and forth, sound will lose energy to heating the air, thereby also attenuating linearly with distance. So sound will get less as you move up, even if you’re getting sound from a larger area. Whether it lessens enough over tens of stories to be actually perceptible, I don’t know.
(By the way, anybody know how to say “Pointing out theoretical distinctions with no practical difference” in Latin? I’m designing a coat-of-arms for the Dope).

We looked at condos in both Seattle and Portland. It didn’t seem to matter what floor one was on; the noise was very noticeable.

I believe that one of the characters in Michael Crichton’s fictional novel Timeline mentioned this. Some of the characters in the book time-travel back to 1357, and one of them points out how silent the world is outside of the towns and villages.

I’m on the 30th story - traffic noise is reduced somewhat, but it’s definitely still there. The wind, on the other hand, is amazingly loud and annoying at times. It is probably the biggest downside to my place (which, in general, I love).

Does anyone know of good search terms to find areas around the US like this? Some realtors’ nomenclature?

22nd floor in Tokyo, although I regularly hangout in the 36th floor of my building where there is a lounge. The traffic noise is not audible at all, but I can still hear the trains, which run around 300 meters away form my building. My windows are heavily insulated though, and if they are closed I barely hear external noise.

Sure. Google “Midwest”. :slight_smile:

This doesn’t really make sense to me. North America has vast areas of untouched wilderness that see very, very little human activity.

It’s that humming refrigerator. Apparently the statistic is for you inside your apartment/house.
I don’t hear a lot of honking horns around here either… seems like that’s a ‘city’ thing. Suburbia doesn’t have that. We do have sirens and overhead jet airplane noise, which I can live with, but the one noise in suburbia which I HATE is that of a leafblower. Grrr. :mad:

Yesterday my husband and I went to look at a rural property. In the middle of 40 acres we could still hear a little bit of vehicles going down the highway, and jets passing overhead. Mostly we heard a lot of bird calls.

Someone asked this very question in yesterday’s New York Times, and got the same answer as above - it depends on too many factors to easily say, but the windows are important. (Scroll down to the second question.)

Here’s a link to the Utne Reader article:

And the passage I made reference to:

It’s not easy to find silence in the modern world. If a quiet place is one where you can listen for 15 minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe 12. One of them is in the temperate rainforest along the Hoh River in Olympic National Park.