The ups and downs of a basement apartment

When you’re doing an apartment search in NY, you’re bound to come upon the paradox of the basement apartment. We say paradox not because it’s a confusing concept—it’s an apartment in the basement, sometimes a whole floor of a smaller building, but because it’s a confusing decision on whether or not you want to consider one for your home.

When you first hear about a basement apartment,  you probably have an immediate reaction: sounds great! Extra space, cooler temperatures, what could go wrong? Or you’re thinking the opposite: less natural light, too enclosed, not worth the potential benefits. Each opinion is correct in it’s own sense, but we’re going to dig a little deeper than the common conceptions.

Legally speaking, basement apartments still need to have a window in every room—but be careful when you’re doing your search. You need to make sure the windows are up to your standards. “A window” can mean a small square of light in an otherwise dark space, so pay close attention to your needs for natural light.

Basement apartments are more prone to bugs, so make sure you’re up to the task if you move in of bug proofing and being ready to take extra measures.

A basement can be a godsend in the summer when heat and humidity make the city nearly unlivable, but the flip side is that they can be harder to warm in the winters. Are you willing to invest in a space heater or other heating mechanism, and the attendant safety concerns?

It’s true that basements are often cheaper than other apartments, and that the square footage may be more bang for your buck than upstairs apartments. If a lower price and optimal space in an otherwise pricey area fits your bill, it could be the perfect solution for you.

This is an obvious one, but: no upstairs. The potential of bugs or cold winters might be offset by the glory of not walking up four flights of stairs every day.

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