Hello everyone! Today I am here to talk about the pros and cons of a basement apartment. Since we have been living here for two and a half months now, I think we have a good handle on the things we do and don’t enjoy about it. I wanted to let everyone know about the experiences we’ve had so you can consider if it is the right thing for you. There were a few things we didn’t expect, so read on to find out of if we would do it again!
- Privacy, for the most part. Basement apartments typically have tiny windows, so most people are not able to see inside your dwelling. We can definitely see outside, though! It also offers more privacy than if you had to share a house or apartment with someone else.
- Separate entrance. In my experience, most of the basement apartments we looked at had separate entrances either on the side or back of the house. This again lends to privacy, and the feeling that you’re not invading your landlord’s personal space too much.
- They are usually kept cool. There were only a handful of days during the summer that R and I felt unbearably hot. We have one fan in the living room and that is usually enough to circulate the air around to cool us down. I think our apartment is pretty well insulated, so it will be interesting to see how we fare in the winter. I am hoping that fall will be nice enough to be comfortable down here.
- The space. In general, the basement apartments we viewed had a decent amount of space to them. It just depends on how they are laid out. We saw quite a few with hallways that spanned what seemed like the entire basement, and a few, likes ours, that only take up half or so. In any case, it’s more than enough for us! I don’t think we saw any that were simply studios.
- The stairs. If you live in anything above two floors high, you probably have to climb a decent amount of stairs. Moving furniture may be more difficult. We had a tiny flight of stairs to deal with, that were thankfully wide enough to fit everything with no issues.
- Being able to hear everything going on upstairs (including talking). I’m sure it depends on the house, and how many people live above you and how active they are, but unfortunately for us, our landlord’s are rather noisy. They have a young daughter interested in gymnastics along with a very hyper golden retriever. This makes for loud bumps, often, and sometimes when they have company over it sounds like a stampede. There were times it got to the point where I told R we needed to leave and find something to do. I just can’t concentrate with things like that going on, and I really didn’t think it would be this bad. I am so, so grateful that they are always gone for the day during weekends so I can have some peace and quiet.
- The lack of light. I always kept my window shade down in my room at my parents house, never really caring for light that much. Now, I definitely miss it. There is nothing like having the sun shine through on a beautiful morning. We get it rather early on one side, and then it’s gone until around 6 when the sun is setting on the other side. My cats really enjoy basking in the sun, and it sucks that they don’t get much of it. Our apartment is not gloomy at all, but it does make a difference. We only have four windows and a door that light can come through.
- The lack of ventilation. Basement apartments can get that moldy, mildew smell, but our landlord’s included a dehumidifier that takes the worry out of that. Sometimes it can still get rather stuffy and it would be nice to have some cross-ventilation with the little windows. We have one open right now but it’s not doing too much – you barely ever feel a breeze. I also would have loved to have a storm door so that we could open our actual door – both for light and for breeze. We will be taking this into consideration in the future.
- The lack of windows. To tie the two points above together, it really comes down to a lack of windows, and lack of full-sized ones at that. This is an obvious one, but it’s so important. I would love to have a nice view of anything at this point, or a door/window to open to feel closer to nature outside. My one cat, who lived in the old house, used to be extremely active chasing imaginary things around the house. Now, she lays on the bed being a typical lazy cat. She has gained a few pounds, too. The little kitten finds everything fascinating and doesn’t know what she is missing, but you can bet that when we have to move, we are taking this into consideration. Ideally, we would love to have sliding glass doors leading out to a patio or something, as my cat really enjoyed that at my parent’s house.
- The potential for bugs. Basements tend to attract spiders and other creepy crawlies. Thankfully we haven’t seen too many, but there have been several in the bathroom. I think one time we found several babies hatching in the kitchen, as suddenly I was seeing them hanging from the weirdest places. We have also run into two centipedes. Gross!!
- Sprinklers. This is going to sound odd, but it’s something I never considered. In the summer, anyway, this is a major inconvenience. Our landlord’s have the sprinklers turned on between 8 and 9pm. This is usually when we go out shopping or walking. So we have to sit and wait for them to pass and then run out (we have a backyard entrance, so we have to cross BOTH lawns). If you’re not bothered by getting soaked, that’s great, but it can be a nuisance when your arms are full with groceries and you can’t see too well because it’s dark out. Yes, we can schedule things around them, but it’s still one of those things that you somehow wish you had thought of beforehand.
- The ceiling height. R is 6’4″ and I am 5’9″. If I stretch, I can touch the ceiling. R doesn’t need to be much taller to clear it. This isn’t something that bothers us as we knew what we were getting into beforehand, and all basement apartments will vary on this. My best advice is to walk around and make sure you don’t feel claustrophobic. I loved this apartment when I first saw it, but R wasn’t able to come with me. I insisted he come back to make sure he felt okay with it.
Overall, since this is very likely a temporary situation (6-8 months), I think we will be able to rough it out. I don’t see us going this route again, unless our landlord’s are older, and without children / crazy pets.
I think the biggest thing to get used to is hearing everything upstairs and trying to tune it out. I try and solve this with music, but sometimes I just want to enjoy silence! We do really like the layout of the apartment, though, and it has everything we need.
We chose this place predominantly because they allowed cats, and no one else did. However, I feel guilty because I know my one cat isn’t enjoying it much. If we fail to find a place with adequate windows next time, I will sadly be handing her off to my parents as they have a screened-in porch in the back where our cats enjoy hanging out. Since we plan on moving close to them anyway, it shouldn’t be a big issue.
So there you have it – my little “review” of living in a basement apartment. It has been a good learning experience for us so far, as you really can’t think of everything when you don’t know what renting is like. R is definitely more lax with things than I am, which I attribute to his experience dorming at college, where they got the bare minimum.
What was the first place you rented like? Would you consider living in a basement apartment – why or why not? Lastly, any advice to give other first-time renters?