Lots of New Yorkers actually prefer living in a ground-floor apartment—provided it's the right one. Choose wisely, and you'll avoid or mitigate the possible pitfalls of first-floor living that include lobby and street noise, privacy issues, less exposure to natural light, and potential pest and odor problems stemming from proximity to the basement.
In addition to meeting your lifestyle needs, some ground-floor apartments have features that can actually make them more desirable—and luxurious—than units on higher floors. Read on for what makes a ground-floor apartment a winner.
1. You don't have to share an elevator
With the onset of the pandemic, avoiding the Petri dish known as an elevator became a huge perk of ground floor living. It can also be easier to move into a ground-floor apartment (especially in a walk-up), and they are an obvious choice if you’re elderly, have mobility or health issues, or a dog that goes out several times a day.
2. Ground floor apartments are up to 15% cheaper on average
There's no rule of thumb for how much you might save on a ground floor—it will depend on a variety of factors including light, location, and outdoor space. That said, typically a first-floor unit can be up to 15 percent cheaper than something comparable on a higher floor—or more if the apartment's less than ideal.
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"If it's really close to the lobby and facing the front, that could be 20 percent less," says Kobi Lahav, director of sales at Living New York. "If it's facing the back and quiet but there's no light, maybe 10 or 15 percent less," he says.
One real-life example from Lahav is the case of two identical apartments on the Upper West Side. The second-floor unit sold for $1.55 million, while the one in the back of the ground floor went for $1.35 million. If the ground-floor unit had been facing the front, Lahav says, the price may well have been knocked down further to $1.2 or $1.25 million.
"The front is really a deal breaker for a lot of people," he says. "And if it's something where the window is directly facing a bus station or something, that's going to be a 25 percent discount."
3. They're kid-friendly
Being on the ground floor can also protect you from noise complaints if you have kids. Gerard Splendore, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg, knows first-hand the benefits of living on the ground floor.
“Our apartment was located over the laundry and storage rooms. My two children, as well as the other two who lived next to us, could—within limits—make as much noise as they liked and jump and run without concern about bothering neighbors below,” he says.
Another advantage if you’re dealing with strollers, scooters, or bikes is that you can come and go fairly easily without squeezing into an elevator. This also applies if you are carrying mail and package deliveries.
4. Some have outdoor space
One of the most common perks to offset the potential downfalls of a ground-floor apartment is the all-important backyard, a coveted amenity in a city with precious little outdoor space and something that’s been even more important during the pandemic. It’s also an handy if you have a dog.
(Pro-tip: If you're hoping for outdoor space on a rental but don't want to overspend, you may be able to score a deal by looking in the colder months—when the nice weather hits, outside space is quickly added to everyone’s wish list.)
5. They may come with extra space—and storage
Particularly in apartments that are located on the ground floor of a townhouse or brownstone, there's a good chance you'll get access to the building's basement, which could mean extra storage and even your own laundry room
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In a townhouse, an apartment on the ground floor often means you have your own private entrance under the stoop and gain a de facto mudroom via the common hallway that leads down to the basement. And in addition to the backyard, owners usually give tenants access to the basement for laundry and extra storage, which means more space overall.
Even in newer developments, you may see space below-grade (underground) configured as amenity space instead of a dank cellar.
—Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Virginia K. Smith and Nikki Mascali.
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