The primary purpose of this study was to explore the link between rail and road traffic noise and overall life satisfaction. While the negative relationship between residential satisfaction and traffic noise is relatively well-established, much less is known about the effect of traffic noise on overall life satisfaction. Based on results of previous studies, we propose a model that links objective noise levels, noise sensitivity, noise annoyance, residential satisfaction and life satisfaction. Since it is not clear whether a bottom-up or top-down relationship between residential satisfaction and life satisfaction holds, we specify models that incorporate both of these theoretical propositions. Empirical models are tested using structural equation modeling and data from a survey among residents of areas with high levels of road traffic noise (n1 = 354) and rail traffic noise (n2 = 228). We find that traffic noise has a negative effect on residential satisfaction, but no significant direct or indirect effects on overall life satisfaction. Noise annoyance due to road and rail traffic noise has strong negative effect on residential satisfaction rather than on overall life satisfaction. These results are very similar for the road and railway traffic contexts and regardless of whether the model assumes the top-down or bottom-up direction of the causation between life satisfaction and residential satisfaction.