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What is the Best Apartment Floor to Live On?

June 1, 2022

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 each apartment floor. Here's what to expect.

Ground-Floor Apartments

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

Pros

  • No more waiting around: Living in a ground-floor apartment means no elevator wait or hike up multiple flights of stairs. So don’t worry about juggling your groceries or packages you’ve picked up from your mailroom - just walk right into your ground-floor apartment.
  • Outdoor space: A first-floor apartment may also come with a small outdoor space like a yard, patio, or other areas for some fresh air. Ground-floor apartments almost always have more outdoor space, even in apartment buildings with balconies for higher-level units.
  • Easy access: Easy access in and out of your ground floor apartment means the main door is only steps away. The first floor is probably ideal if you have kids, dogs, or make big grocery hauls.
  • Less expensive: Depending on the apartment complex, bottom floor units are sometimes less costly. They're also more likely to be vacant than more desirable top-floor apartments.
  • Safety: You're the first one out during an emergency evacuation on the first floor. Remember that most elevators will not be accessible during earthquake and fire evacuations.
  • 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. Also, if parking is tight, you’ll have a better chance of snagging the good spots if you keep your eye out.
  • Closer to amenities: Mailroom, coworking space, dog run, whatever the amenity may be, ground floor units will likely be the closest. Although this might not seem like a huge deal, it can become an inconvenience over time if you’re constantly waiting for elevators or trekking up and down stairwells.
  • Great for pets: When taking your furry friend out for a bathroom break, waiting for an elevator can feel like a lifetime. Ground floor apartments are great for people with pets who can easily access the outdoors at their convenience.

Cons

Of course, there are also downsides to living in a ground-floor apartment.

  • Lack of views: 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.
  • More noise: Noise is also a problem when living on the first floor. It's common for people living above you to bring the noise with them, not to mention falling asleep to outside street noise. And if your apartment complex offers a shared pool, you'll likely hear people out there all summer long.
  • Safety: Safety can also pose a concern for the ground floor. You're the first to evacuate in an emergency but more vulnerable to security threats like break-ins.
  • 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 elsewhere.

Middle-Floor Apartments

Not sure what floor to choose? Life on the middle floor offers the best of both worlds with flexible options.

Pros

  • Better views: Views from a middle-floor apartment are better than a bottom-floor unit.
  • Easier access: There aren't as many stairs or long elevator wait times with a middle-floor apartment. You can enjoy the best of both worlds in terms of views and access.
  • Cheaper utility bills: Seasonality and utility bills are a major plus on the middle floor. Top floors can get hot, making them difficult to cool down during the summer months. The bottom floors are often chilly and hard to heat. Your utility bills are more consistent than apartments on other floors when living on the middle floor.

Cons

  • Noisey neighbors: Noise can be a significant drawback of living in a middle-floor apartment. Tenants live above and below you and often bring the noise with them.
  • Minding your noise: It can also feel stressful to keep your noise levels to a minimum, knowing that you could be disturbing your neighbors.
  • 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.

Top-Floor Apartments

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.

Pros

  • Excellent views: You get the best views from a top-floor apartment. It’s just begging for an evening cocktail party with friends.
  • Less noise: There's also no one living above you in a top-floor apartment to make noise. You're probably less likely to hear the sound coming through the floor.
  • Lower heating bill: Top-floor apartments are warmer during the winter months. Since heat rises, you can enjoy the advantages of a lower average heating bill.
  • More security: When you’re on the top floor of a building, you are the least vulnerable to security threats like break-ins. You also don’t have to worry about break-ins from your exterior windows or patio.
  • Lots of natural light: Being higher up, you won’t have as many buildings blocking your views, making for better views and copious amounts of natural light during the day.
  • Fewer bugs: The creepy crawlies of the world come from the ground up, which means as a top-floor apartment unit, you’re less likely to see them come around. Even the flying bugs have a hard time with higher floors where there is more wind.

Cons

  • Hard to cool: Top-floor apartments are also harder to cool down during the summer. That can send your air conditioning bill soaring during the warmer months.
  • 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.
  • Safety: Safety also poses a concern when choosing your best apartment floor. You'll face the longest evacuation during an emergency with no quick way to get down to the ground floor.
  • Less accessible: Beyond emergencies, it's also harder to quickly get downstairs for take-out, delivery items, and to greet guests. If you make several trips in and out throughout the day, it can be a pain.
  • More expensive: Because top-floor apartments provide the best views and are often the most desirable units, they are the most expensive. If you’re looking to save some cash, consider a middle-floor apartment instead.

Other Things to Consider

Choosing the best apartment floor to live on 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. Those include:

  • Proximity to amenities, including the pool, laundry rooms, and barbecues
  • Your apartment search may only yield 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. Avoid picking an apartment near a nightclub or bar that keeps you awake.

If your neighborhood is relatively quiet, consider choosing an end unit. You'll have less neighbor noise and will likely enjoy additional views from your apartment.

Find Your Dream Apartment

Ready to start apartment hunting? Add your favorite apartment floor to your wishlist and tour several complexes to find the perfect fit.

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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