You’ve been there. You are at an open house for a first floor apartment staring out the bedroom window estimating the distance to the sidewalk, gauging the noise levels from traffic, and waiting to see if passers by look directly into the apartment as they pass. You whisper under your breath, “I love this apartment, but why would I want to live on the first floor?” I know how you feel, and I understand your apprehension – after all, I am a ground floor apartment expert.
I have called ground floor apartments home for 15 of my last 15 years in New York City. I didn’t consciously plan it that way – and certainly don’t have anything against elevators, stairs or even escalators – but I continue to choose first floor apartments. Why?!
After the purchase of our current ground floor apartment – and while planning for the sale of our former first floor digs – I began thinking about our decision-making process (conscious or not), and why we continue to choose ground floor apartments over apartments on higher floors. I made a list of benefits to share with potential purchasers (spoiler alert, we had an accepted offer after our first open house), and today I unveil that list of benefits to you.
LOWER FLOOR = LOWER MAINTENANCE! Here is how it works…
Each corporation (co-op) is made up of a specific number of total shares, which is spelled out in the original offering plan. The co-op may be comprised of 10 total shares or 10,000. Each unit in the co-op – whether a studio, one bedroom, two bedroom, etc. – is allocated a fraction of the total shares based on a few different factors, which I will share shortly.
The monthly maintenance for each unit is a function of the shares allocated to that unit, multiplied by the cost/share amount set by the board of directors (which can change year by year depending on the building’s budget).
For instance, if your studio apartment was allocated 100 of the co-ops total shares, and building maintenance is $.70/share, your monthly maintenance is $700/month. If your apartment has 150 shares, your maintenance in the same building would be $1050/mo. So, does every F line studio in “Co-op X” have the same number of shares, since it is the same size? NO! As I mentioned, there are a few factors which determine allocation of shares, and size is only one of them. Other factors include the floor the apartment is on, whether the apartment has outdoor space and even which direction the apartment faces. Therefore, first floor apartments typically have relatively fewer shares and, therefore, lower maintenance!
And, that will NEVER change. Relative to higher floor apartments in the same line, you will always pay less!
“HOW ABOUT THAT WEATHER, BILL?” – When living on the first floor, you avoid those awkward elevator conversations! Allow me to set the scene. You are coming home from a long, frustrating day at the office. The boss was angry, your colleagues are stressed out and – to make matters worse – the Davis Account is a complete mess. But, the day is done and you are eager to get home, put work stress behind you, open a bottle of wine and binge watch episodes of “Bridgerton” until you fall asleep on the couch.
One problem – in order to achieve post-work bliss, you must first play “Elevator Tetris” with your neighbors and cram into the 4’ x 6’ box like a team of circus clowns. You pretend to read an email, dig through your bag for your keys (when you know full-well they are in your pocket because you feel them stabbing you in the thigh), or stare at the numbers on the digital display above the elevator door, as though your laser-like stare will get you to the 24th floor any faster. The sweat begins to bead on your forehead, but your arms are shackled to your sides. You let the sweat drip, close your eyes, and pray to the commuter gods that one of your neighbors doesn’t try to start a conversation…
IS THAT ANY WAY TO LIVE?!! Of course it isn’t. But, guess what? Those of us who decided to live on the first floor are already enjoying our second glass of wine. Trembling and wet, you finally get to your apartment door and dig into your pocket to retrieve your house keys, only to find those weren’t your house keys stabbing you in the thigh after all, it was just a piece of hard candy and a tube of Chapstick. Your house keys are back at the office!! So, you head back to the elevator…
ELEVATOR “TEMPORARILY” OUT OF ORDER? PERMANENTLY, NOT YOUR PROBLEM! Studies show that an extremely high percentage of homeowners agree or somewhat agree that living in an 11th floor walk-up is a terrible idea.*
When the elevator isn’t operating properly – whether by “routine maintenance” or sudden malfunction – getting in and out of the building becomes a challenge…for most people. Yeah, you can try to pass off the inconvenience as a much needed step class, but you are not fooling us “Ground Floor-ers”. We see the envy on your face as you drop your shoulders, roll up your sleeves and enter the stairwell for your long climb home.
*not an actual study, just common sense.
THE “KEEP IT DOWN” EFFECT! As the father of two young children, I have first-hand knowledge of this particular advantage of living on the first floor.
Last Christmas my 8-year old received a “riding bouncy ball” from Santa. For the past several months, she’s been bouncing her way from room to room – and, I must say, she is getting some decent “air”. It’s impressive if she is your child, but I can’t help but wonder how the downstairs neighbors would react to the daily 6AM Extreme Bouncy Ball Olympics.
Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about getting an angry knock on my door from the downstairs neighbor, because we live on the first floor. My kid can bounce to her heart’s content!
CHEAP, CHEAP! …IS THAT A BIRD OR JUST A GREAT DEAL? – It might actually be a bird, since trees have tend to grow out of THE GROUND! That said, it might also be the sounds of a great deal. I have already addressed the monthly maintenance benefit of a first floor apartment, but there is yet another financial benefit for joining the Ground Floor Club. Ground floor apartments are typically priced lower than a similar apartment on a higher floor. In other words, you get more bang for your buck!
Let’s face it, when you are spending $500,000 for a 400 square foot studio, you might want to think about taking the discount where you can get it!
“HEY, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKIN’ AT?!” – Contrary to popular belief, you often have a GREAT view from a first floor apartment. In fact, I think this is one of the most underappreciated aspects of living on the ground floor. We live in New York City for crying out loud! Our city is one of the most dynamic and exciting places on the planet – why wouldn’t you want to experience it from the comfort of your own home over a glass wine and a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit! Granted, I love a great skyline view from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the penthouse but, if you are choosing between the 4th floor apartment with a view of the building across the street, or the first floor with a view of the “action”, I will take the action every time.