If you’ve never experienced the joys of living in a basement apartment, I’m here to tell you about them.
And yes, that’s sarcasm.
Of course, every apartment situation is going to be different, but here are a few of the pros and cons of living in a basement apartment.
TL;DR – I’d probably advise against it, unless you have earplugs or you’re not home very much.
Privacy, for the most part. Basement apartments typically have tiny windows, so most people aren’t going to be creepin’ on you. It also offers more privacy than if you had to share a house or apartment with someone else.
Separate entrance. Most of the basement apartments I 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 I felt unbearably hot. There’s one fan in the living room and that’s usually enough for me. However, during the winter, it does get fairly cold (although I’m cold most of the time). The tiled floor right outside the bedroom is kind of a shock in the morning.
The space. In general, the basement apartments I viewed had a decent amount of space. It just depends on how they’re laid out. I saw quite a few with hallways that spanned what seemed like the entire basement. This one: no hallways, more use of space. In any case, it’s more than enough for me – one bedroom/one bathroom with a fairly roomy living room.
The stairs. If you live in anything above two floors high, you probably have to climb a decent amount of stairs. That makes moving infinitely more difficult (source: I rented third-floor apartments after this). There were a tiny flight of stairs to deal with, that were thankfully wide enough to fit everything with no issue.
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, the family is rather noisy.
There’s a young daughter interested in gymnastics along with a very hyper golden retriever. This makes for loud bumps, often, and sometimes when company is over it sounds like a stampede. There were times it got to the point where I wanted 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’re 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’s nothing like having the sun shine through on a beautiful morning. My cats enjoy basking in the sun, and it sucks that they don’t get much of it.
The apartment isn’t gloomy at all, but it does make a difference. There are only four windows and a door that light can come through.
The lack of ventilation. Basement apartments are at risk of smelling, but there’s 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. Unfortunately, opening them doesn’t help much – you barely ever feel a breeze.
I also would have loved to have a storm door so that we could open the actual door – both for light and for breeze.
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.
The potential for bugs. Basements tend to attract spiders and other gross-ass insects. There have been several spiders in the bathroom, and I found quite a few hanging from weird places in the kitchen. I also ran into (more like away from) two centipedes. That gets a big fat nope from me.
Sprinklers. This is going to sound odd, but it’s something I never considered. In the summer, this is a major inconvenience. The landlord has the sprinklers turned on between 8 and 9pm. This is usually when I go out shopping or walking.
So I have to sit and wait for them to pass and then run out (there’s a backyard entrance, so I have to cross BOTH lawns). If you’re not bothered by getting soaked, that’s great, but it can be a nuisance when you can’t see too well because it’s dark out.
The ceiling height. I’m 5’9” – if I stretch, I can touch the ceiling. This isn’t something that bothers me as I knew what I was 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. It should go without saying, but don’t rent something sight-unseen.
I wrote this when I was two months into living in this apartment. It’s been three years, and I can’t say that I have fond memories of the place. I went on to prioritize actual apartments when I moved the next few times around, and while there were some noisy neighbors, I never experienced the disturbances that I did here.
That is, until living in an actual house with assholes for neighbors. (Go figure.)
I more than likely wouldn’t rent another basement apartment again unless there were some serious soundproofing methods in place. Especially now that I work from home – random crashes are something I don’t want to have to deal with.
The best thing about basement apartments is that they’re usually cheaper. I would highly recommend weighing the trade-offs to see what wins out: price, peace and quiet, or privacy (if your other option is a house-share situation).4