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What is a Walk-Up Apartment? Pros and Cons of Walk-Up Apartments

By: Susan Finch
May 29, 2020

Finding a place to call home comes with options, from luxury to affordable and everything in between. You may have heard about walk-up apartments as an alternative for city dwellers looking for a less competitive, more affordable opportunity.

But what is a walk-up apartment? Get ready to stretch your legs and discover this alternative for frugal apartment hunters.

What is a Walk-Up Apartment?

Walk-up apartments are units in an apartment building that does not have an elevator. They’re only accessible by walking up multiple flights of stairs.

They typically won’t be taller than five or six floors. They’re especially common in older, dense cities like New York City. Walk-up apartments can also be multi-bedroom, studio, or efficiency apartments.

Pros of Walk-Up Apartments

There are several pros to living in a walk-up apartment. So, you may want to keep this option high on your wishlist.

1. Walk-Up Apartments are Usually More Affordable

Due to their lack of elevator and ambitious climb, walk-up apartments are usually more affordable than a multi-bedroom apartment or townhouse. If you can score a unit on a lower floor, you can enjoy cost savings while enjoying the affordability of a walk-up apartment.

2. They're Typically Smaller Buildings, Meaning Fewer Tenants and More Privacy

Walk-up apartments are typically smaller urban buildings. That means fewer tenants and more privacy.

Of course, the level of privacy you want is your choice. It’s easy to meet your neighbors when you live in a smaller, tighter-knit apartment building.

3. You’ll Constantly Burn Calories Walking Up and Down Stairs

Walking up to the fifth or sixth floor isn’t for the faint at heart. However, it can still be a pro of walk-up apartments. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to burn calories walking up and down stairs, especially if you need to carry up any groceries.

4. Depending on the City, Walk-Up Apartments May Save You Money

Apartment hunters in New York City and similar cities often use real estate brokers to find the right place to live. That means an additional fee in an otherwise expensive city.

Brokers are not required in these cities. However, it’s challenging to rent an apartment in newer complexes without one. It's an easier task to find find a walk-up apartment, which may save you from the broker’s fee.

5. Walk-Up Apartments Have a Vintage Charm

Walk-up apartments are usually in older buildings that come with vintage touches. Expect original crown moldings and black and white checkered floors in some areas like the kitchen or bathroom. You can also expect oversized bay windows and other unique details.

Cons of Walk-Up Apartments

Know the cons of living in walk-up apartments before you sign your next lease.

1. Moving In and Out Will Be Difficult

Moving in and out is difficult and potentially exhausting when living in walk-up apartments. It’s challenging not to scratch hallway walls when moving heavy furniture up and down stairs. Depending on the city you live in and the rates of local moving companies, you could be charged a premium for the extra stairs.

2. Walking Up and Down Stairs Can Be Tiring

Living in a walk-up apartment may afford endless opportunities for exercise. However, it can still be tiring. Forgetting something in your car or at the store down the street could ruin an otherwise incredible day.

3. Walk-Up Apartment Buildings Tend to Be Older

Walk-up apartments are usually in older buildings that may be historic and have vintage charm. However, the building can also show their age.

Utilities and amenities may not be updated. Also, walls and floors may carry sound easier than the newer apartment complexes down the street.

Other Things to Consider About Walk-Up Apartments

You now know the pros and cons of walk-up apartments, but there's a few more things you should consider that often go overlooked.

Deliveries

Walk-up apartments don’t have doormen to accept packages. That’s also why rents are cheaper in these buildings.

However, delivery people are not a fan of multi-flight walks up to the top of your walk-up apartment. Be prepared to tip your DoorDash delivery person for walking up multiple flights of stairs.

How Often Are You Home?

Homebodies or anyone who works from home can thrive in walk-up apartments. A non-existent commute means you’re not exhausting yourself up and down the stairs multiple times a day.

Groceries and Laundry

Bringing up laundry, groceries, and kids up the stairs can be a painful task. You may need to make multiple trips just to get everything to your walk-up apartment.

What About My Bike?

If you love cycling, dragging your bike up and down to your walk-up apartment may prove impossible. Find out if there’s on-site storage or how you can manage your bike without the multiple flights of stairs.

Is a Walk-Up Apartment for Me?

Walk-up apartments can be ideal for their affordability, intimacy, and even their built-in exercise getting up and down the stairs. However, there’s no denying walk-up apartments are also older, difficult to maneuver during a move or with heavy packages, and can exhaust you. Weigh the pros and cons to determine if a walk-up apartment is right for you.

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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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