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When hunting for an apartment, you’ve probably considered the location of the unit in terms of how close it is to work. However, have you ever thought about where the apartment is located in terms of height?

In large cities like Boston and New York, space is a premium which has led to the creation of skyscrapers with high rise apartments. Typically, these buildings are 70 feet or more in height, with the premium units advertised as “top floor apartments”.

But what is a top floor apartment, and what makes them so desirable?

Let’s find out!

What is a Top Floor Apartment?

A top floor apartment is any unit that is located on the upper levels of a building. Since buildings in large cities can reach up to six stories or higher, it can be difficult to pinpoint which apartments should be considered “top floor”.

So, for the sake of simplicity, this article will focus on units that are located on the top three floors for units that are higher than six stories.

When you look at listings for these apartments, you might notice two things.

One, that top floor apartments are significantly more expensive compared to apartments on lower floors.

Second, the rent prices for top floor apartments tend to increase even amongst themselves. In a nutshell, the cream of the crop apartments - usually the penthouse - is noticeably pricier compared to a top floor apartment that’s right below it.

Why are Top Floor Apartments More Expensive?

There are three reasons why top floor apartments are more expensive compared to lower floor apartments, and you can organize them into three categories: practicality, safety, and prestige.

To understand these ideas better, let’s break them down:

Quality of Life

Due to their physical location, top floor apartments get the lion’s share of natural light and fresh air. An apartment just feels a lot more homey and cozy when there is a lot of exposure to natural light, and studies have shown that natural light is great for mental health! What’s more, letting in natural sunlight is a great way to brighten up your home and make it feel roomier.

Another great thing about top floor apartments is that you won’t hear a lot of noise coming from neighbors. While sound does travel upwards from downstairs neighbors, you won’t need to worry about any noise coming from above you.

Finally, living on the top floor means that you’re far away from pests and critters. Invasive pests typically prefer ground floor units because these are much more accessible.

Safety and Security

Living in a top floor apartment means heightened security and a strong sense of safety. Sociologists call this the “fortress effect”: the physical location of the apartment isolates the residents by creating distance. This distance helps give tenants peace of mind especially during the evenings and while they are asleep.

Another thing to consider is that top floor apartments can usually be found in buildings that have doormen. In high-end complexes, there are even apartments that can only be accessed by tenants who have a special key or code to the elevator. These elements add to the safety of the residents.


When you think of “top floor apartment”, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the view. Apartments with skyline views are considered to be highly desirable, thus commanding a premium price. There is something to be said about being able to wake up to a view that few others can afford.

Most top floor apartments even play upon this element of prestige by having an exclusive terrace or balcony. Residents can use these amenities at their leisure, whether they want to create an outdoor garden or have a private hosting space for gatherings.

Things to Consider When Getting a Top Floor Apartment

There is no denying that there are amazing benefits and perks you can enjoy when you rent a top floor apartment. However, there are also some things that you should consider, such as:

Expensive Heating and Cooling Bills

The one drawback to all the natural light and exposure is that you’ll need to spend more to keep the apartment at a comfortable temperature during extreme weather conditions. New York summers can get pretty hot, which means air conditioning is a must. During the winter months, the cold can get brutal, and you’ll need to keep your apartment warm.

Before you sign your lease, it’s a good idea to check the apartment’s insulation. You won’t need to spend as much money to keep the temperature comfortable in a properly insulated unit.

Difficulty in Evacuating During Emergencies

In the case of emergencies like fires and earthquakes, it can be difficult to evacuate your apartment especially if the elevator has been turned off. The higher your floor, the more stairs you’ll need to take to get to safety.

Accessibility Takes Time and Effort

Accessibility to your unit can be both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it provides a lot of security and privacy, but imagine having to take an elevator ride each time you needed to go out. What’s more, you’ll need to give guests access to the elevator if they want to visit. Even if you have a high-speed elevator in your building, the daily ride to get anywhere can get tiresome in the long run.

Is a Top Floor Apartment Right for Me?

So, is a top floor apartment right for you?

It really all boils down to your preferences. If you’re the type of person who enjoys great views, values their privacy, and doesn’t mind the drawbacks of living in a top floor unit, then you should definitely go for one! However, if you want something a bit more affordable and accessible without giving up too much privacy, you might want to consider getting a middle floor apartment instead.

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