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What is a Penthouse Apartment & How to Find Them

By: Susan Finch and Davina Ward
September 3, 2021

Apartment hunting should be a fun and rewarding experience that results in your perfect place to call home. If your budget allows for sparkling views and luxury, why stop at just an upscale apartment? Give your wish list an upgrade and start touring your city’s best penthouse apartments.

Not sure if a penthouse apartment is for you? Here’s a complete rundown on what a penthouse is so and their pros and cons.

What is a Penthouse Apartment?

Penthouse apartments are luxury units that are on the top floor of an apartment building. They typically offer the very best views in the building, vaulted ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows. All of those perks and amenities also come with the most expensive apartment in the complex.

How to Find Penthouse Apartments

Looking for an apartment will take some time and effort on your part. However, finding your dream penthouse apartment is well worth the effort. Here’s everything you need to know about how to find a penthouse apartment.

Start your Search Early

The key to finding an awesome penthouse apartment is mastering your timing.

Start looking for apartments by determining your ideal move-in date, as everything else will be dependent on this date.

For a smooth transition to your new apartment, we recommend starting your apartment search two months before your ideal move-in date.

This will give you ample time to scope out units that meet your needs, make arrangements for your move, purchase furniture, and tour a few units.

Of course, life happens.

Sometimes we’re forced to move on short-notice, whether it’s for personal or professional reasons. However, even in those cases, it is important to take as much time as possible to plan your move.

If you have to move earlier and don’t want to face penalties for breaking your lease agreement, speak to your landlord about setting up a subletting agreement.

Finally, you may want to take advantage of the seasonality in the rental industry.

Start your search in the winter for lower prices and less competition or start in the summer months when there is a larger selection of penthouses on the market.

Know What You Are Looking For In A Penthouse

Knowing what you’re looking for in a penthouse can help expedite your search and get you into your dream unit with a lot less fuss.

Although most penthouse apartments have amenities, it’s still a good idea to start your search with your priorities in mind.

Whether you’re looking for luxury amenities or you’re more interested in your penthouse’s layout and square footage, finding your dream home means limiting your search to units that meet these standards.

When searching for your penthouse, be sure to differentiate between in-unit and on-site amenities. For example, there’s a big difference between in-unit laundry and on-site laundry.

Search for Listings Online

You won’t find many cars cruising the neighborhood to find “for rent” signs anymore, as most people do their apartment hunting from the comfort of their living room.

These days, online apartment hunting through apartment listing platforms is the standard, which means starting your apartment hunt will require you to scour different online listing sites.

We’re here to make the hunt easy. Apartment List makes you the center of your apartment hunt. Our rental concierge brings units to you, rather than having you spend hours searching.

Whether you’re looking for furnished apartments or a pet-friendly penthouse, simply select those filters and we’ll deliver matching units right to you.

Saving time and finding your dream penthouse? It’s a win-win.

Set Up Apartment Tours

Once you’ve found a promising penthouse, don’t delay when it comes to scheduling a tour. This is especially true during the summer months, as you’ll be facing more competition for in-demand units.

Once you’ve set the tour, it’s important to prepare a list of questions to ask renting.

The answers to these questions will help you determine whether you want to move forward with the rental, as they should cover any relevant information about the unit.

Ask questions that cover the basics, such as how much rent costs, what in-unit amenities are included, and how parking is handled.

However, you should also ask additional questions that are relevant to your rental situation. For example, you might ask questions pertaining to furniture for rent or short-term lease.

Beyond questions, it’s important to assess the condition of the penthouse. You want to do your best to ensure that everything is in working order and whether it’s what you had in mind when you conceptualized your dream home.

Apply and Sign Your Lease

Done with the tour and ready to snap up the penthouse? Get started with the apartment application process!

Gather all the relevant documents and information to fill out your application. You may also have to set aside around $40 to cover an application fee.

Once you have everything you need, including identification, rental history details, financial details, references, and a good idea of your credit score, you can get started.

Be sure to fill out your application completely. Once you have submitted your application, you should hear back within 72 hours, although that timeline may vary.

If you are approved for the penthouse — congrats! You’ll need to take time to review your lease agreement before signing it.

Ask your landlord or property manager any questions you may have and don’t be afraid to voice concerns about clauses you don’t understand. It’s essential to know exactly what you are agreeing to.

Once you’ve signed it, you’re all set!

Pros of Penthouse Apartments

There are plenty of pros that come with penthouse apartments, starting with the views.

1. Endless Beautiful Views

If views are on your priority list, you can’t go wrong with penthouse apartments. They usually offer the very best in the building. They’re also more likely to offer floor-to-ceiling windows in multiple rooms and an expansive balcony. The views will usually be fully maximized.

2. Spacious Layouts With Luxury Touches

Renters craving more space should check out penthouses for their spaciousness and trend-setting, luxury touches. Although townhouses also offer space, penthouses take it a step further. They often feature fireplaces, dens, walk-in closets, and oversized balconies.

Because rent is typically higher in penthouse apartments than any other unit, you’re also more likely to enjoy the latest upgrades. Property managers know luxury renters want all the flourishes. Those can include stainless steel appliances, updated bathrooms, Jacuzzi tubs, walk-in showers, and more.

3. Extra Privacy

Penthouses offer more privacy than any other unit in a building. You’re usually the only apartment on the top floor. You can often enjoy exclusive elevator access. Most penthouse apartments come with a special key or code to reach the top floor that’s all for you.

4. Penthouse Status

There’s a certain status that comes with living in penthouse apartments. You’ll be the go-to spot for hosting and entertaining friends and family, for better or for worse.

Cons of Penthouse Apartments

Before you make up your mind about penthouse apartments, make sure you think through the drawbacks, starting with the cost.

1. Luxury Comes at a Cost

Despite all of the fantastic pros of reaching elite penthouse apartment status, there are some downsides to living the good life. According to Realtor, penthouse apartments are usually 5-15% more expensive than other units in the same building.

You’re paying a premium price tag for extra space and better views. However, you may find that a penthouse apartment stretches your budget too far.

2. Long Elevator Rides

Penthouse apartments include the longest elevator rides with multiple stops along the way. That may not sound like a big deal, unless you live a busy life and need to come and go frequently. Long elevator rides can also get old when carrying groceries and walking your dog regularly.

3. Potentially Noisy Rooftop Amenities

Penthouse apartments may enjoy top floor status, but there might be more going on above you than you realized. Luxury apartment complexes may feature rooftop amenities that are just overhead. Pools and community spaces may get loud during weekends and community gatherings. Make sure to ask about the noise level in your penthouse apartment before signing the lease.

4. Weather Can Be Harsh

The views may be spectacular in penthouse apartments. However, the higher up you are, the harsher the weather.

Top-floor dwellers can endure hot summers and cold winters. Harsher conditions may lead to higher utility bills as you run your AC or heater more frequently.

5. Penthouses are Hard to Find

If you have your heart set on renting a penthouse apartment, you may find options are limited. Apartment complexes usually have just one or two penthouse units to choose from. The smaller market for penthouse apartments drives up the demand, competition, and rent.

6. “Penthouse” Can Have Different Meanings

Traditionally, most penthouse apartments are the premier unit on the top floor. However, some areas like New York City may call three or four apartments on the same floor a penthouse. In some buildings, penthouses can be situated on multiple floors and may include exclusive amenities and terraces.

While this isn't necessarily a con to penthouse living, it's something to know before starting your apartment hunt.

Is a Penthouse Apartment for Me?

Penthouse apartments are the perfect choice for anyone looking for fantastic views, luxury amenities, and the best unit in the complex.

However, they also come with a significantly higher price tag and some drawbacks. Weigh your options and what you value most in your living situation before you sign your next lease.

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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
AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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