New York City Garden Apartments: Yea or Nay?

New York City garden apartments can be a dream come true or a nightmare sprung to life, depending on your perspective. Garden apartments are lovely and highly sought after, but they do have quirks you need to be aware of before you choose one.

Living in New York City garden apartments is a dream come true for many people. A NYC apartment in a brownstone or townhouse building with (usually) a private backyard or at least access to one? What’s not to love? Each floor in a brownstone lends itself to a different style of living. A top-floor resident is going to have a pretty different living experience from the tenant who lives on the parlor floor. Each floor has its own positives and not-so-positives, including the garden floor. If you’re considering moving into a garden apartment, you should know what those pros and cons are before you plunk down your deposit.

Garden apartments are awesome because:

You get outdoor space. You have a tough day at work, but you’re finally home. You put down your bag and kick off your shoes, pouring yourself a glass of chardonnay before heading into your tastefully decorated backyard area, the sounds of the city muted by the jazz you have piping through your outdoor speakers. Yup, outdoor space is pretty awesome, but outdoor space in NYC is envy inducing. You can entertain, garden, do yoga, and just about anything you’d do out in the burbs without stepping outside of the city!

You don’t have to climb stairs. The subway ride home is a beast. While your other friends climb six long flights to their top floor apartments, sweating and out of breath, you smile a little smugly as you walk straight into your home, not needing to take a single step.

Deliveries are a breeze. Nothing’s more annoying than getting a brand new piece of furniture delivered to your home only to find out that it doesn’t fit up your staircase or having to run downstairs every time a delivery arrives.

They tend to be less expensive. Traditionally, garden apartments and apartments on the first floors of regular apartment buildings tend to be priced lower than those on higher floors.

Garden apartments are NOT so awesome because:

You’re at garbage level. This may not be an issue if you live in a building where the rubbish bin is locked up neatly and tightly every day, but if you live in a building where people are less than careful about how the rubbish bins are stored and maintained, you could be dealing with issues ranging from smells to vermin. This galvanized steel trash can from Home Depot seals in odors and keeps out pests.

You’re at eye — as in “I can see you” — level. People outside walking by a garden apartment can see straight into the home if the lighting is right and the drapes are thrown open. Some people don’t mind having a home that people glance into as they walk by, but if you’re not one of those people, or you’d rather your home isn’t on display every minute of every day, you need to come up with some fixes or pass on the garden-level space. One trick would be to install your shades so that they hang halfway down, low enough to block out prying eyes but high enough to let in light.

You hear EVERYTHING. When you live in the garden apartment, you’re going to hear everything. You’re going to hear the conversations of folks passing by your window, cars racing past, and the clomp-clomp of your upstairs neighbors moving about their apartments. You’ll know every single time someone comes in and out of your building. For some people, these noises eventually fade into the background.

So before you sign that lease, think good and hard about the advantages and disadvantages to living in one of these New York City garden apartments.

Image Source: Flickr/Steven Pisano

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