Noise pollution in cities is a rapidly emerging problem for everyone. Digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers can all attest to the importance of a controlled and quiet workplace.

Working from a place of your choosing doesn’t always mean your surroundings will cooperate and keep the volume to a minimum.

In some cases, there is very little we can do about the annoying ancillary noise which distracts us during working hours.


Several surveys have investigated the noise pollution in cities.

If you thought someone mowing the grass or playing loud music while you are working was bothersome; noise pollution in cities can be debilitating for newcomers to the remote work sphere.

While there are ways to cope or get accustomed to noisy areas, it’s good for remote workers to be aware of which cities across the world present the noisiest of problems.

This blog will reveal the cities that have been found to be the loudest. Remote workers are used to tackling new workplace challenges, yet noise pollution has to be one of the most difficult aspects of adjusting to work outside of an office environment.

noise pollution in cities with construction

1. Karachi, Pakistan

“With 15 million residents, it’s not surprising that this Pakistan city is one of the world’s loudest cities.

Much of the noise can be attributed to Karachi’s traffic, which regularly produces sound in the neighborhood of 90 decibels — well above the healthy range for hearing sound,” reads Sound Proof Cow detailing the unhealthy noise levels associated with the capital of Pakistan.

2. Mumbai, India

“Thanks to the major traffic and serious overpopulation, this is considered the noisiest city in the world with sound levels that can top over 100 decibels,” is how Sound Proof Cow describes Mumbai, India.

100 decibels can cause serious damage to human hearing if one is exposed to the frequency for over 8 hours. Several studies show Mumbai as ranking as one of the most noise polluted cities in the world. Remote workers in Mumbai are going to struggle finding quiet moments to work.

3. New York City, New York

With a congested population of over 8 million, it’s nearly impossible New York City wouldn’t make this list.

While the city has attempted to impose noise ordinances to keep the city quiet from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. the noise within the Big Apple hovers around 70 decibels.

noise pollution in new york

While not as bad as many other large cities, the amount of constant noise pollution within the city can become quite annoying to the human ear and those hoping to get any work done.

4. San Francisco, California

Due to the loudness of the San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco often rates as an extremely noisy city.

Luckily for digital nomads and remote workers, the outskirts of the city are often quiet places to work. However, the cost of living anywhere near San Francisco is one of the highest rates in the world. For what it’s worth; it’s a beautiful city.

5. Shanghai, China

“Shanghai traffic only gets up to about 71 decibels, but overall noise can reach 85 decibels or higher. With a massive 24 million people in the city, along with the Chinese affinity for firecrackers, it’s not surprising that noise pollution is such a problem,” Sound Proof Cow comments concerning Shanghai, China.

While noise pollution is an issue for those living in Shanghai, another Chinese city has an even larger noise pollution issue.

6. Guangzhou, China

A joint study found the Chinese city of 13 million had the highest noise pollution index in the world. While Beijing and Shanghai have larger urban populations than Guangzhou in China, the city has the highest metropolitan population in the country.

7. Los Angeles, California

The City of Angels appears on several lists of being full of noise pollution. The culprits seem to be the constant traffic congestion and LAX International Airport.

However, freelancers are more likely to find a quiet place to work due to the size of the city compared to some others on the list.

8. New Delhi, India

“Another area where a high population leads to serious noise pollution. Again, traffic is a big culprit, and the government seems to have few answers for a city that can reach up to 85 decibels on a regular basis,” reads Sound Proof Cow describing the city of nearly 20 million people.

india noise pollution in cities

Digital nomads traveling in New Delhi will struggle to find a quiet place to work.

9. Madrid, Spain

“Madrid isn’t as big as some of these other cities, but they make up for it with their loud nightlife, which produces a tremendous amount of loud noise that the revelers don’t seem to feel any need to temper. 45 decibels don’t seem like much but try sleeping through it at 2am, every single morning,” details Sound Proof Cow concerning the noise pollution found in Madrid,

Spain. However, compared to others on the list Madrid is basically a library.

10. Tokyo, Japan

The 35 million living within the Tokyo metropolitan area are constantly battling noise pollution. Decibel levels can reach 90 in some locations.

tokyo noise pollution

11. Cairo, Egypt

“Cairo is the real city that never sleeps, and the noise pollution is so bad that it’s actually been linked to multiple deaths.

Imagine waking up at 7:30am to 90 decibels of sound,” Sound Proof Cow details concerning the loudness of the Egyptian capital and most populous city.

Other Cities Often Mentioned

Istanbul, Turkey; Barcelona, Spain; Mexico City, Mexico; Paris, France; and Buenos Ares, Argentina all rank relatively high for noise pollution.

However, digital nomads and remote workers are fortunate if they have to participate in a remote conference from any of these cities.

All conferencing software works in tandem with Krisp, a noise cancellation solution which mutes background noise during calls.  The free to download software will prevent your clients from being distracted by background noise; no matter where you’re working from.