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High-Rise vs Low-Rise Apartments: Pros and Cons

You’re in the market for a new apartment, but you’re having trouble deciding on the type of place to rent. Besides price, location, and amenities, you’ll also have to decide whether you want to live in a bigger or smaller building. To help you with your apartment search, we prepared a brief description of the differences between high-rise and low-rise apartments.

What Is a High Rise Apartment?

Before we start our comparison, let’s clarify what we mean when we talk about a “high rise apartment” and “low rise apartment”. In short, a high rise typically refers to a building over a certain height or number of stories. The exact classification varies by country and organization. In India, for example, a high rise starts at 4 stories. However, in the U.S., a high rise is an apartment building with a height of at least 7 stories, as defined by the National Fire Protection Association. Yardi Matrix, an apartment market data provider and our sister company, defines high-rises as apartment communities of 10+ stories in height. There’s also a maximum height above which a high rise becomes a skyscraper. This is typically any building over 40 to 50 stories.

RentCafe Low Rise apartments

Also according to Yardi Matrix, low rise buildings are apartment complexes with a height of up to 4 stories, which in some parts of the country are referred to as “garden apartments“. You may have also heard of “mid rise apartments“, a category that usually applies to apartment buildings of 5 to 10 stories.

High Rise vs Low Rise: Which Is Better?

Now that we have an idea of what is a high rise apartment, it’s time to talk about why you might want one.

Advantages of High Rise Apartments

• They Offer the Best Views
If you want stunning views of, say, the Manhattan skyline, you’re only going to get that in a high-rise apartment. They also get more natural light.
• They Are Located in the City
If you work in the big city or simply love shopping and partying there, living in a high rise apartment is the easiest way to cut down on your commute.
• They Provide a Doorman/Security
Another advantage of highrise living is a doorman, security, and other staff that are there to make your life easier – and safer. They put the ‘hi’ in hi rise apartments.
• They Always Have Elevators
If the idea of climbing 5+ stories of stairs makes you cringe, don’t worry, because highrise apartments always have elevators. Most buildings have more than one, to cut down on wait times.
• They Offer More Leasing Options and Vacancies
If you’re looking for a flexible lease, like a month-to-month arrangement, you’re much more likely to find it in a high rise. Furnished apartments are another option often available in highrise apartment buildings.
• They Have Easier Utilities and Maintenance
Most high-rise apartments are already wired for cable, internet, and the like, so getting set up is as easy as a phone call. Maintenance requests are often faster too, since they usually have an on-site property management office.

RentCafe Lowrise Apartments

Advantages of Low Rise Apartments

• They Are Closer to the Street
If you’re always on the go or have an elderly or disabled person living with you, you’ll appreciate how much easier it is to access your lowrise apartment. This can be even more important in the event of an emergency, like a fire or serious health issues.
• They Have More Amenities and Parking
Unless we’re talking about luxury high rise apartments, lowrise apartment communities typically have more amenities, like pools and clubhouses, and more parking spaces.
• They Provide Better Access to Green Spaces
Included in those amenities is plenty of green spaces. Low rise apartments are much more likely to feature landscaped grounds, gardens, shade trees, walking paths, and other goodies for nature lovers.
• They Are Located in Residential Areas
Low-rise apartments are usually found in outer residential neighborhoods. Though this may add time to your commute if you work in the city center, there’s typically less foot and vehicle traffic, less pollution, and a greater sense of community.
• They Offer Greater Peace and Privacy
While some people love the hustle and bustle of the big city, others just want some good ol’ peace and quiet. The location and smaller size of low-rise apartments make them a better option for privacy.
• They May Be Cheaper and May Offer Negotiable Rent
Although a low rise building has fewer units, they’re usually cheaper to rent because of their location, and landlords are much more willing to negotiate the price.

Which Floor Should You Live On?

The pros and cons laid out above come with one important caveat. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of a high-rise apartment can change depending on the floor you’re on.
For instance, living on the first floor of a high-rise provides equal, if not better, access to the street as you’d have on, say, the third floor of a low-rise. On the flip side, that first-floor apartment isn’t going to have the good views normally associated with taller buildings. If you’re on a higher floor, like the 30th, you may actually have more privacy, less noise, and cleaner air than the ground floor in a low-rise.

The perks of living on a higher floor: 
• Better views
• More privacy
• More natural light
• Less noise
• Less insects
• Better ventilation

The perks of living on a lower floor: 
• Easier street access
• Less walking/waiting
• Lower energy costs
• More green spaces in sight

Would you rather have a great view or more convenient access to your apartment? That’s something only you can decide. Browse RentCafe for a great selection of high rise and low rise rental communities in your area that fit your lifestyle and your budget.

Nadia Balint
Nadia Balint
Nadia Balint is a senior creative writer for RENTCafé. She covers news and trends in residential and commercial real estate and their impact on our everyday life, including rental housing, for-sale housing, real estate development, homeownership, market reports, insurance, landlord-tenant laws, personal finance, urban development, economy, sustainability, and social issues. Nadia holds a B.S. in Business Management from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. You can connect with Nadia via email. Nadia’s work and expertise have been quoted by major national and local media outlets, including CNN, CNBC, CBS News, Curbed, The NY Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post as well as industry publications, such as GlobeSt, Bisnow, Inman News, Multifamily Executive, and The Commercial Real Estate Show. Nadia also wrote for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive, HubSpot, and more. Prior to entering the real estate industry, Nadia worked in the legal field, where she gained over 10 years of experience in business, corporate, and real estate law.

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