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Dear Caroline,

My next door neighbors make loud noise at all hours of the day and night. I’ve tried to respectfully ask them to quiet down at night and they have basically refused, telling me to stay out of their business (using a few choice words to make their point more emphatic). I am at my wit’s end to find a solution. Can you suggest any other avenues I could try to persuade them to be lower the decibels

…Ticked Off in Tulum

Dear Ticked Off,

Your frustration is palpable, and I’m sorry. I understand that intrusive noise and disturbed sleep can wreak havoc on anyone’s wellbeing.

However, I also know that a lot of American expats come to Mexico for the culture and lifestyle only to complain bitterly when music and merrymaking disturb their peace. But you should understand that parties, family gatherings and late hours are part of the Mexican culture, particularly on weekends. Within reason, (and sonic boom levels are never within reason), if you want to be happy here, you may need to become a bit more noise tolerant.

That said, assuming you didn’t move into a part of town where a lot of nightclubs are located, you need not live in misery. Mexico has both municipal and federal noise ordinances. If the commotion is intolerable, particularly after 10 p.m., you’d be within your legal rights to call the police and file a noise report with the neighborhood office. }

If you decide to go this route, I suggest you also gather a little evidence. Turn on your “record” device and also document the actual sound level by downloading one of the many decibel meter apps available on line. You should be allowed to file your report anonymously.

Of course, I can’t guarantee how much the authorities will do, or how pleasant your neighbors will be if they’re hit with a hefty fine. If the thought of an escalating conflict makes you ill at ease, you might instead try investing in a white noise machine and some good earplugs for sleeping.

Meanwhile, take a deep breath and remember the ancient words of Epictetus, “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.”

If you can find it within yourself to forget your neighbors’ “choice words” and to try establishing a better rapport with them at a neutral (noise-free) time, you might get better results. I know from experience that when it comes to conflicts on this level, approaching an adversary as a friend, and treating them as if they have a “clean slate,” can sometimes astonish them into cooperation.

And speaking of astonishment, once you get to know your neighbors, who knows? You might, one night, find yourself in their home dancing and singing along until the wee hours of the morning!

Wishing you the best,


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