Imagine finding a well-priced one-bedroom apartment in the adorably posh—but notoriously expensive—West Village neighborhood in New York City, only to realize that it’s on the first floor. For some people, this would be a deal breaker. First-floor apartments are often considered less desirable than ones on the floors above street level, largely because of privacy and noise concerns.
But before you pass on what could be a prime piece of real estate, experts recommend taking the time to investigate whether a first-floor apartment is actually worth pursuing.
As with any apartment search, you’ll want to be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot tolerate. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of first-floor apartments before signing on the dotted line—or dismissing one out of hand. Here are some key factors to consider.
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Pros of living in a first-floor apartment
The biggest factor in favor of a first-floor apartment is that it usually costs less to rent or buy.
“You may be able to get into a hot neighborhood for less,” says Beatrice de Jong, director of residential sales for Open Listings, an online real estate brokerage and a high-volume realtor. “As far as resale values go, it’s better to have the worst home in the best location than the best home in the worst neighborhood.”
If you have mobility issues—or you just don’t want to lug your groceries up five flights of stairs every time—a first-floor apartment might be for you.
“Not having to walk up and down stairs or use an elevator is a time saver,” says de Jong.
Besides that, if you’re someone who regularly bikes, if you play golf or another sport that requires a ton of equipment, live with a small child who uses a stroller, or own an older dog that can’t take the stairs, you may appreciate a first-floor space.
Lower air-conditioning bills
Since heat rises, your AC bills may be lower with a first-floor apartment, since it’s likely to stay cooler during the summer than upper-floor units.
Garden or patio
If you like to pass time outside, your first-floor apartment might feature a garden or patio where you can hang.
To most people, constant noise is a major red flag, but it could be a plus if you’re really into city living.
“There are plenty of people who like the hustle and bustle of the city. When you’re on that street level, you really get that interconnection between the inside and the outside,” says Malin.
And depending on where your apartment is located, noise might not even be an issue. For instance, if your apartment is in the back or faces an interior courtyard, it might be relatively quiet. Some first-floor apartments might be on quiet side streets with very little traffic.
Cons of living in a first-floor apartment
Lack of privacy
Depending on where your apartment is located within the complex, de Jong says you may have to deal with a lack of privacy.
“If your windows face the sidewalk, you will likely end up living with the blinds or curtains drawn at all times, to avoid having strangers peering into your home as they pass by,” she says.
If you receive a lot of deliveries to your door, you’ll have to consider the possibility that packages may get stolen. If your front door is adjacent to the street and packages are left on your porch, this could present a problem.
“Some delivery companies will opt not to leave packages if they don’t feel it’s a secure location, so you will have to be home to get your online orders,” de Jong says.
To combat theft, many companies will deliver packages to specific lockers or official drop-off locations, which may be a safer option.
Higher heating bills
Since first-floor apartments tend to stay cooler, it may cost more to heat your apartment in the winter.
It’s worth mentioning noise again, because it can also be seen as a negative for renters and owners. If your apartment faces the street, you may have to deal with more noise than the apartments above you. Soundproof windows made of laminated glass can help with that, but if you are sensitive to sound, you may want to look for an apartment that’s farther away from the action.
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