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What Is the Best Apartment Floor to Live On? [2024]

What is the best floor for apartments? Weigh the pros and cons of the ground, middle, and top floors. Search for your dream apartment with Apartment List.

Are you thinking about making a move and want to score a top-floor apartment? Before you go apartment hunting and sign your next lease, consider the pros and cons of renting on different apartment floors. Read on to discover the advantages and disadvantages of living in ground-, middle-, and top-floor apartments.

Which Apartment Floor Is the Best to Live On?

The ideal floor in an apartment building varies based on individual preferences. Ground floors offer easy access and outdoor space but may lack privacy and quiet. Middle floors balance privacy, noise, and views, though without direct outdoor access. Top floors boast the best views and privacy but come with higher costs, potential temperature extremes, and longer elevator waits.

To choose the right floor, assess your priorities, whether it's top-tier privacy on upper floors, convenient access on ground floors, or a mix of benefits on middle floors.

Ground-Floor Apartments: Pros and Cons to Consider

Life in a first-floor apartment comes with unique advantages and a few potential deal-breakers.

Pro: No More Waiting Around

Living in a ground-floor apartment means no elevator waits or hikes up multiple flights of stairs. So don’t worry about juggling your groceries or packages you’ve picked up from the mailroom — just walk right into your apartment.

Pro: Outdoor Space

A first-floor apartment may also come with a small outdoor space like a yard, patio, garden, or other areas for some fresh air. If outdoor space is available in your apartment building, ground-floor apartments almost always have more of it.

Pro: Easy Access

Being only steps away from your front door means easy access in and out of your ground-floor apartment. The first floor is probably ideal if you have kids, walk your dogs, or make big grocery hauls.

Pro: Less Expensive

Depending on the building, first-floor apartments for rent can be less costly. They're also more likely to be vacant than top-floor apartments, which are generally more desirable.

Pro: Safety

In an emergency, people who live in first-floor apartments are going to be the first ones out. Remember that most elevators will not be accessible during earthquake and fire evacuations.

Pro: Access to Parking Lots

If you make several trips back and forth to your car throughout the day, being close to your parking spot is a lifesaver.

Pro: Closer to Amenities

Mailroom, coworking space, dog run — whatever the amenity may be, ground-floor apartments will likely be the closest to it. If your building’s amenities are popular, you’ll get a head start just by not having to call an elevator.

Pro: Great for Pets

If your furry friend needs to get outside in a hurry for a bathroom break, waiting for an elevator can feel like a lifetime. Ground-floor apartments are great for people with pets who can access the outdoors at their convenience.

Pros and Cons of Ground-Floor Apartment Living

Con: Lack of View

The lack of views is a big drawback of ground-floor apartments for most renters. If you crave city lights and sweeping views, you'll need to look to a higher floor.

Con: More Noise

Noise is more often a problem in first-floor apartments. It's common for people living above you to bring the noise with them, not to mention having to fall asleep to street noise right outside your door. And if your apartment complex offers a shared pool, you'll likely hear people splashing around out there all summer long.

Con: Safety

Safety can also pose a concern for ground-floor residents. Yes, you're the first to evacuate in an emergency, but you’re more vulnerable to security threats like break-ins. You might also find it unnerving that whoever is walking by on the street can see straight into your living room. You can close the curtains, but that means shutting out that coveted sunlight.

Con: More Pests

Critters are more likely to make their way into your apartment if you’re on the ground floor. Of course, there are preventive measures you can take, but if you’re someone who can’t stand the thought, you might want to look up a few floors.

Middle-Floor Apartments: Pros and Cons to Consider

Not sure which floor to choose? Life on a middle floor might offer the best of both worlds and flexible options.

Pro: Better Views

One of the major perks of moving up to a middle floor is the better views. When you live on a higher floor, you end up being able to see more of your courtyard or city below than on a bottom-floor unit.

Pro: Easier Access

Middle-floor apartments are more convenient to access than their top-floor counterparts, meaning fewer stairs and shorter elevator rides. You can enjoy the best of both worlds in terms of views and access.

Pro: Cheaper Utility Bills

Seasonality and utility bills are two major reasons for preferring a middle floor. Top-floor apartments can get hot quickly, making them difficult to cool down during the summer months. The bottom floors are often chilly and hard to heat. Your utility bills will be more consistent throughout the year than apartments on other floors.

Pros and Cons of Middle-Floor Apartment Living

Con: Noisy Neighbors

Noise can be a significant drawback of living in a middle-floor apartment. If you value your peace and quiet, middle floors could expose you to noisy neighbors on all sides. Unlike in bottom- and top-floor apartments, you’ll get noise from both above and below you when living on a middle floor.

Con: Minding Your Noise Levels

It’s not just about hearing more noise — you’re also more likely to spread it above and below when living on a middle floor. It’s more challenging to keep your noise levels to a minimum knowing that you could be disturbing neighbors in every direction.

Con: Stairs

Although you won’t have as many stairs or as long of a wait for an elevator, you’ll still have to deal with some to get to your mailroom. Anytime you want to grab food delivery, greet guests, or run out for an errand, you’ll end up running up and down the stairs to manage your day.

Top-Floor Apartments: Pros and Cons to Consider

While scoring a top-floor apartment is a big win, it comes with a few disadvantages. Here's what to expect and how to weigh the pros and cons.

Pro: Excellent Views

Views are a major draw for choosing the top floor of an apartment complex. You could end up with sweeping views that help make the most of your balcony or terrace — the view provides a dazzling backdrop that practically begs for evening cocktail parties with friends.

Pro: Less Noise

Neighbor noise is automatically reduced when you live on the top floors of an apartment building. There's no one living above you, and you're less likely to hear the sound coming through the floor. If you live in a penthouse apartment and are the only unit on the top floor, you also enjoy more space, privacy, and a reduction in noise if you’re the only unit on the top floor.

Pro: Lower Heating Bill

Heat rises, and if you live in a top-floor apartment, you’ll soak up the warmth during the winter months. Unlike lower-level units, you’ll enjoy the advantages of a lower average heating bill.

Pro: More Security

When you’re on the top floor of a building, you are the least vulnerable to security threats like break-ins. There’s no one passing in front of your apartment from the street or the courtyard, and you’re more insulated. You also don’t have to worry about break-ins from your exterior windows or patio.

Pro: Lots of Natural Light

Living on higher apartment floors means you won’t have as many buildings blocking your views. You’ll end up with tons of natural light, better views, and more warmth from your apartment. Depending on how much sunlight you absorb, you may be able to reduce your winter energy bills.

Pro: Fewer Bugs

The creepy crawlies of the world come from the ground up. From the top floor, you’re less likely to see them come around. Even the flying bugs have a hard time with higher floors due to higher wind.

Pros and Cons of Top-Floor Apartment Living

Con: Hard to Cool

While increased heat absorption might be a pro during the winter months, this same feature becomes a con during the summer. You’re more likely to have to crank up the air conditioning, which will send your utility bills soaring during the warmer months.

Con: Elevator Waits

Elevator waits and stairs are also a trade-off when living in top-floor apartments. Lugging a bike, groceries, and suitcases up and down can become a nuisance from the top floor.

Con: Safety

Safety also poses a concern when choosing your best apartment floor to live on. While you may be safer from break-ins on the top floor, you'll face the longest evacuation during an emergency with no quick way to get down to the ground floor.

Con: Less Accessible

Beyond emergencies, it's also harder to quickly get downstairs to grab deliveries and greet guests. If you make several trips in and out throughout the day, it can be a pain.

Con: More Expensive

Because top-floor apartments provide the best views and are often the most desirable units, they are generally the most expensive. If you’re looking to save some cash, consider a middle-floor apartment instead.

Other Things to Consider

Choosing the best floor to live on in an apartment complex is a personal preference. No floor is exempt from a few downsides. However, you can balance them against the pros to find the best option for you.

Beyond safety and convenience, there are other things to consider when choosing your floor. You may want to keep in mind that:

  • Some apartments have closer proximity to amenities, which may include a pool, laundry rooms, and barbecues.
  • Your apartment search may yield few results on a specific floor.
  • Desirable top-floor apartments usually come with higher rent prices.
  • A landlord may renovate several apartments on the same floor, limiting your options on the most updated units.

Whatever apartment floor you choose, consider which side of the building you'll live on. You may want to avoid picking an apartment near a nightclub or bar that will keep you awake.

If your neighborhood is relatively quiet, consider choosing an end unit to minimize neighbor noise. Bonus points if it’s a corner unit that will offer additional views from your apartment.

Make Your Move: Start Apartment Hunting With Apartment List

There’s no right or wrong apartment floor to live on. The “best” floor depends on your personal preferences.

First-floor apartments for rent are ideal for ultimate convenience and avoiding stairs and elevators. Top floors provide more views, sunlight, and potential privacies while the middle floors offer a little of everything. There are pros and cons to any floor you choose, so make sure you consider all the options on this list to make the best choice for you.

Ready to start apartment hunting with Apartment List? Add your favorite apartment floor to your wish list and tour several complexes to find the perfect fit. With us, you’ll spend 5 minutes and save 50 hours searching.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Susan Finch
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More
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