The Pros and Cons of Basement Apartments

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When done correctly, basement apartments can feel light, breezy, and just like home.

A basement apartment is just that: a unit in the basement of an apartment complex or multifamily property. There are different types of basement apartments, including “English basements,” “garden apartments,” and “daylight basements.” Below, we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of choosing a generic basement unit over any other kind of apartment.

Pros

You might not have thought about renting a basement apartment before, but there are actually quite a few advantages to living in one.

Affordability

The demand for basement apartments is generally less than for other types of apartments, so their prices also tend to be lower. This means that you may be able to snag a bargain in a desirable neighborhood — even if you just rent it temporarily to get an idea of what the neighborhood is like and whether or not you’d actually like to live there long-term. Having said that, some basement apartments come with a yard, which can often be used to push the price back up.

Privacy

Living in a basement unit can give you more privacy overall, as outsiders are not able to see inside your apartment easily. Additionally, basement apartments often have their own separate entrances to the rest of the building, meaning you’ll also have extra privacy in that sense. If you’re renting a basement apartment in an otherwise single-family property, the chances are you’ll be the only one using the entire floor.

Fewer Stairs

Because basement apartments are on the bottom floor, it’s likely that there will only be one set of stairs for you to tackle each day. This means that you won’t have to worry about the elevator breaking or carrying bags full of groceries up several flights each time you go shopping. Some basement apartments are even accessible by ramps rather than stairs, meaning they could be ideal for those who are elderly or physically impaired.

More Square Footage

Most of the time, basement apartments are located under single-family homes. Since most have usually just been converted from being actual basements, there are usually no hallways in basement units — which means a lot more available space for you.

Cooler Temperatures

Basement apartments tend to be cooler than apartments on other floors, which can be especially advantageous in the summer when all the excessive heat floating around rises to the top. Being on the lowest floor means you can stay cool, and do it without blowing all your money on air conditioning. On the flip side, however, it also means that it’ll be colder in a basement apartment during winter.

Cons

Young man calls his friends in a panic as he tours a dilapidated basement apartment.

Unfortunately, living in a basement apartment isn’t all sunshine and roses. In fact, there are a lot of things to consider before committing to one.

Lack of Light

Speaking of sunshine, living underground means there’s going to be a distinct lack of natural light in your place. Some basement apartments will be partially above-ground, so this isn’t always a problem, but it’s always important to check before you commit to one. If you’re more of a night owl, this might not even be an issue for you.

Cooler Temperatures

As well as being an advantage in the summer, the cool temperatures of basement apartments can also be a major detriment during the winter. If there are any drafts, it can get even worse, so double-check that everything in the unit you’re looking at is capable of sealing tightly. And you’d better hope that your heating doesn’t go out.

Flood Risk

Logically speaking, being in the basement means that there’s a higher chance of your apartment flooding than any other apartment. Basements are more susceptible to flooding anyway, but being right at the bottom of an apartment building, or even just under a single-family property, means that if someone has a leaky faucet or forgets to turn off the bath, you could be the one to have to deal with the consequences.

Pest Potential

Spiders, among other creepy crawlies, tend to live in basement apartments more often than they do in higher-up units. Rodents are also more likely to make their homes in the basement. Find out what provisions the landlord has to prevent unwelcome visitors before agreeing to rent a basement unit.

Noise

Because a basement apartment will usually be either street level or slightly below, it has the potential to have a lot of traffic directly passing by — whether that’s of the foot or vehicular variety. Depending on the location, you may have people walking home late at night after enjoying the local nightlife (these tend to not be the quietest of people, by the way). Otherwise, you may find yourself near a shared laundry room. Either way, it’s likely not going to be very quiet.

Mold

Basement units are also more likely to get mold than units that are above them. This has to do with a combination of being located underground and having less ventilation. Mold is a type of fungus that grows very easily in damp places, and underground units are more likely to stay damp than their above-ground counterparts.

Claustrophobic

Living underground with small or no windows and potentially lower ceilings than purpose-built apartments means that you run the risk of occasionally feeling quite claustrophobic. Before signing a lease, double-check the heights of all the ceilings, especially if you’re on the taller side.

Basement apartments aren’t for everyone, and there’s a lot to consider before agreeing to move into one, but they can make for great short-term rental options while you check out a new area or start building up some savings towards a nicer place.

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