We love big cities, and we love renting flats in them rather than staying in hotels. But there are risks. The last time we rented an apartment in London, we arrived to discover the building sheathed in scaffolding. What a disappointment! Our apartment was as a result a bit darker than it would normally have been, and workmen paced around in front of our windows. Noise wasn’t a real problem. Similarly, the last time we were in Rome, we stayed in our Via Giulia apartment. Across the street, significant work, including jackhammering at times, was under way on the façade of the French Consulate.
We have no control over what the neighbors or the municipal authorities or even the building owners are going to be doing in the way of repairs at the precise time you visit. If this sort of thing is something you know you couldn’t handle, please don’t rent in a city. Such occurrences are extremely infrequent, but they have happened to us often enough to mention them to you.
Of course, this isn’t to say that if conditions are absolutely unliveable, you don’t have a right to complain and either get moved to alternate accommodations or get a refund. However, we won’t give you a refund if you wait until you get back to the US to complain or if you refuse to let us try to find you alternate accommodation. Also, our basic definition of liveability may not be the same as yours. If work is going on in the street or in a nearby dwelling or in the flat upstairs during ordinary daytime working hours, to us that is a liveable situation, even if it may interfere with your afternoon nap or or with your reading schedule or with your desire to sleep late in the morning. These sorts of things are an ordinary part of city life. If, however, as occurred recently, the adjacent theatre rehearsed until 3 in the morning each and every night, then you have a right to complain and be heard.
One final word: The sorts of things described above don’t happen just in cities: You can be in the middle of the countryside and discover that your neighbor has decided to spray insecticide on his entire crop; or that the owners of the tiny wine-producing hamlet you’re in have decided to test their new industrial equipment for several days running. There is a risk to everything.