Updated: Mar 8
Should I rent an upstairs or downstairs apartment is usually not your first question when starting the apartment hunt. However, it is one you should definitely be considering. You’ll be staying in your new place for at least a year, so you need to think carefully about living on the top or ground floor. While most people get caught up in the views of an upstairs apartment, they forget about climbing stairs every day. Moving furniture or getting groceries up 2 or 3 flights of stairs can become a daunting task.
Our guide to upstairs or downstairs apartment living discusses the practical factors that are often overlooked when choosing a rental. Each person has their own preference, but it is always good to weigh the pros and cons of choosing either an upstairs or downstairs apartment.
Why is it Important to Choose Between a Downstairs Apartment & Upstairs Apartment?
The unit you choose can affect your daily activities. While a top floor offers a view, having to walk up and down stairs every day could become a hassle.
For seniors, walking up a flight of stairs with groceries and other items can become a chore. Think about doing this for an entire year.
For families, some might be concerned about children running and jumping causing noise disturbances to the neighbors below.
When you see the pictures of an apartment you like online, don’t get swept up in the moment. Take a step back and think about the benefits and the practicalities of living in the ground or the top floor.
Choosing the right apartment is important because you don’t want to find yourself so unhappy in your rental that you think about breaking a lease! You should be so comfortable and content that you want to extend your lease!
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Is it More Expensive to Live Upstairs or Downstairs?
The cost of apartment living is influenced by demand, location, apartment size, and utilities. Depending on the location and type of rental, you may find that the upstairs apartments are generally more expensive than the downstairs apartments.
What you may find on the top floor are higher costs for air conditioning. Hot air rises and you will probably find yourself relying on your cooling systems a lot more. Simple steps such as keeping the blinds closed on a hot sunny day or using a floor fan can help cool the interior. When you live downstairs your apartment is cooler in summer. However, during the winter months, you will find yourself using more energy to heat the apartment. As with anything, you have to weigh the pros and cons.
What are the Pros & Cons of Living Upstairs?
While you may have your heart set on that upstairs apartment, first, you should weigh all the options. A person or family looking to move into an upstairs apartment should consider the amount of travel up and down, the noise level they may impose on their downstairs neighbor, and/or its ease of access among other things. Below we will go over just a few options to consider before choosing to fly upstairs.
Pros of Living Upstairs
The Views: Depending on your location, living upstairs offers a better view than living downstairs. Most people enjoy looking beyond traffic or parking areas.
Less Noise: The most obvious advantage of living upstairs is the lack of noise from above. Many downstairs apartment tenants are disrupted by stomping or movement of neighbors from above, so living upstairs can prevent these disruptions.
Light: Upstairs units will have more natural light. If you enjoy letting the light in, then an upstairs apartment will suit your needs.
Privacy: Living on the top floor means less traffic passing your door. It is a more private rental option.
Cons of Living Upstairs
Higher Cost: As previously mentioned, you may be spending more on cooling in the summer.
The Stairs: From moving your furniture to purchasing groceries, you will have to contend with the stairs every day.
Delivery: Receiving deliveries may be more awkward than if you were staying on the lower floor.
What are the Pros & Cons of Living Downstairs?
In general, most people prefer downstairs apartments because of how easy and quick it is to come and go. Also, if you go shopping a lot then living downstairs makes transferring groceries or items easier. In addition, when first moving in, if you have furniture to move, being downstairs will come with fewer hassles. Downstairs can even be more affordable than the upstairs, but what about the noise from the upstairs neighbors, what about stranger's accessibility to your front door or leaks that may come from the upstairs. As with living upstairs, it is equally important to weigh the pros and cons of living downstairs.
Pros of a Downstairs Unit
Accessible: For ease of access, a downstairs apartment is the best choice. This is true for tenants who have mobility difficulties or do not wish to carry groceries up and down flights of stairs. For families who are very active and need to get in and out the door quickly, consider the convenience of the ground floor unit. If you have lots of equipment or goods you need to move around, the bottom unit is a fair option.
Outdoor Areas: Depending on the rental complex, a downstairs apartment may have a small patio or garden area. It is also easier to reach local amenities. You can pop into the pool before anybody else straight from your downstairs unit.
The Cons of Living Downstairs
The Noise: You may hear the movements and footsteps of your upstairs neighbor, but this depends on the apartment. Fortunately, many remodeled units reduce the amount of transferred noise from upstairs neighbors.
Privacy: Because your neighbors pass by your unit to get to their unit, you will have a lot more traffic to deal with. This includes deliveries, friends and family visiting, and maintenance services.
Delivery Issues: Mail and packages left at your apartment could be damaged or stolen if left unattended downstairs. While most complexes have secure services, it is best to arrange a time when you or someone you trust, will be home to collect the delivery.
Which Apartment Unit is Safer? Upstairs or Downstairs?
Upstairs and downstairs units are safe when you stay in a secure complex. Many feel that an upstairs apartment is better from the perspective of burglaries. A thief is less likely to pass multiple tenants to reach the top floor and break in. They are also less likely to haul your goods down the stairs. In terms of emergencies, you will be the last to evacuate when on the top floor. We consider what would happen in a fire or emergency living on the upper levels.
What Happens During an Emergency if My Apartment is On the Top Floor?
Every apartment has procedures that must be followed when an emergency happens. If you live on the top floor be sure to have a fire extinguisher or know where to locate one. Also, if your apartment happens to be enclosed within a larger building, get familiar with the stair access and the exit doors. It is a simple and effective way to be prepared for challenging circumstances. Not only will knowing this information help you, but it may help a neighbor upstairs as well, or even one downstairs.
How to Move Furniture into an Upstairs Apartment?
Find Help: If you do not have the assistance of a professional moving company, find people you can trust, including friends and family, who can help. If you have purchased a new suite or television do not try to move it upstairs alone! The risk of slipping and damaging your furniture is too great! A little bit of help will go a long way.
Use Moving Equipment: A dolly is a popular way to move large items up a staircase. You can use moving equipment and strap the items to secure them. This can also prevent a huge sofa from getting stuck in the middle of a stairway and blocking the other tenants.
Slide the Goods: While not the best idea, for boxed items that are not fragile, you could gently slide or hike it upstairs. This also depends on how many flights you would have to go up. Any couches and chairs are easily moved into an apartment by turning them sideways. You may look at your apartment and think, how am I going to get my furniture in? But with some smart moves and management, you can move anything into a rental.
Is it Better to Live Upstairs or Downstairs with Pets?
Living on the top floor offers views, privacy, and minimal noise but if you want to have a pet, the rules must be considered. First, are allowed to own a pet in your unit? Most landlords and property managers do not permit having pets. For those who do allow pets, there may be a limit on the type of animals you can own.
Popular pets for apartments include cats, fish, birds, and smaller mammals. Generally, smaller animals are quiet and will not disrupt neighbors.
A smaller dog is easier to manage on the upper floor. It is also less likely to cause a lot of noise when jumping or running across the floor that would otherwise upset the tenants below. The question is whether you can commit to the general care of a dog living in an apartment. Toys for stimulation and taking them out regularly when you are home can help your pet adjust and prevent disturbing the neighbors.
Upstairs or Downstairs? Our Final Thoughts
The unit you choose will depend on your present and future living needs.
Let’s Look at the Top Floor:
Less energy efficiency in summer
Easy access for pets and families
More energy efficient
No stairs to climb
Whether up or down, always visit the apartment unit you are interested in renting. Have a look at its layout, space, and whether it will suit your needs. If you can visit the apartment in question, take a look around. Is it easy to climb the stairs, could you sacrifice the views for a nicer bottom floor rental? Ask yourself the necessary questions to make a practical decision.
With some time and research, you will find the best apartment, whether upstairs or downstairs, to fit your lifestyle.