Living the good life in the middle?

By Teri Karush Rogers | June 25, 2009 - 8:55AM

Voting blocs in co-op and condo buildings can coalesce around apartment size (smaller dwellings organize against the outsized influence of bigger units), apartment line (the B line needs a plumbing overhaul, for instance), and sociodemographics (newer, wealthier buyers often want more upgrades than thriftier oldtimers, though the Great Recession may be changing that).

Political lines can also be drawn by cross-section: What's good for the top of the building (like installing an expensive water pump to boost pressure) may not interest residents on the lower floors, where the water is fine, thank you.

So, is it better to live on the top, on the bottom, or in the middle? Some observations:

Life at the top: Great for views and status and the potential for outdoor space. Bad for roof leaks, air conditioning costs, higher maintenance charges, rooftop vermin and burglars, and the disproportionate loss in value if a skyscraper goes up across the street. Also, penthouse dwellers can be the object of class envy, translating into chilly treatment by the board.

Life at the bottom: Great for access during power outages and elevator repair work, lower purchase price and maintenance fees, water pressure, walking the dog, and rowdy children. Bad for views and street noise.

Life in the middle: Moderation is its strongest suit, says one current penthouse owner who has suffered most of the plagues outlined above and thinks buying in the middle would have been a smarter move. There's nothing so great and nothing so bad either, besides the higher likelihood of looking out onto an ugly rooftop.

What level do you live on and how does it affect your life? Where would you prefer to be?

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