Pros and Cons of Living in a Walk-Up

Originally posted on November 25, 2022 3:00 pm
Updated on November 14, 2022 11:06 pm

NYC is full of buildings, many of which have elevators, but only if they have six or more floors. Buildings that are five stories or less are considered walk-ups and are a big part of many New Yorkers’ lives. Many people dread the thought of a walk-up apartment due to the amount of vertical climbing involved. But are walk-ups really that bad? Could a walk-up apartment even be right for you? We compiled a pros and cons list, so you can seek out or avoid a walk-in apartment in the future.

Pros of Living in a Walk-Up Apartment

Fewer Neighbors, More Privacy

Walk-up apartments are in small buildings due to the elevator laws in NYC. Most walk-ups in the city are under six stories in height, meaning they have fewer apartments. For people who like privacy, this is an ideal situation. Many of these complexes only have a home or two per floor, so noise from neighbors should be kept to a minimum. These apartments are perfect for introverts or those who simply live in a quiet haven in an otherwise busy city.

Cheaper Prices

Let’s be honest, walk-ups are pretty unique to big cities, and many folks moving to NYC won’t have much experience living in one, which can make living in a walk-up seem intimidating. For this reason, walk-ups are generally cheaper. This is a big plus in a housing market where prices are soaring. Plus, these homes can oftentimes come with more space, which makes that lower price point even more attractive. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind climbing a few stairs to save some cash, then a walk-up apartment might be the right call for you.

Easy Exercise

Many New Yorkers want to get their steps in, and living in a walk-up is a great way to do that. Some live five stories up, and if you leave your apartment multiple times a day, this can quickly become an easy exercise routine. This can allow you to keep moving and have a healthy heart, which is extremely important when you live in a city that can be super stressful. While this isn’t the only exercise one should do in the city, it can help make your fitness goals easier.

Great For Homebodies

If you’re a homebody or work from home, then living in a walk-up won’t be too bad for you, even if you hate climbing up the stairs. You’ll practically never have to use the stairs if you don’t have an office to go into, so you might as well find a great apartment for a cheaper price and with fewer neighbors. This is another reason that walk-up apartments are an introvert’s paradise. Again, these apartments might not be for everyone, but they can be ideal for the right person.

Cons of Living in a Walk-Up Apartment

The Stairs

This might seem a bit obvious. However, while stairs might be annoying for some, they can be impossible for others. The elderly and some people with disabilities, in particular, will be hard-pressed to find accessible walk-up apartments. Stairs also provide additional safety hazards, especially for children. Speaking of children, people with babies will have a difficult time in a walk-up. We’ve all seen and helped people carry strollers up the subway stairs. Imagine if you had to do that in your own home daily!

The Age

Most walk-up apartments in the city are pre-war buildings. Even the ones built after WWII are nearly 80 years old, which will show in the quality of the building. While many walk-ups in the city have been renovated, a lot haven’t been. Their appliances could be old, the floors could be creaky, and the plumbing/wiring might be outdated. Not all old buildings will be problems. Some might be rather beautiful. However, an old building that hasn’t been taken care of can have some bad, even dangerous, apartments.

The Lack of Security

The vast majority of walk-ups in the city don’t have a doorman. Some might not even have a security camera. This means that people who live here have far less security than other residents in the city. Apartment break-ins are rare, but package stealing is common, especially in walk-up buildings. Packages left on the first floor are usually visible from the street, and it’s easy for thieves to get into apartments by just ringing a random doorbell and being let in by a lackadaisical neighbor. If you want a more secure apartment, you’d do better to find a building with a doorman.

Who Walk-Up Apartments Are Good For

Walk-up apartments do have target demographics. Families with older kids, for example, will likely be fine in a walk-up. The stairs aren’t likely to bother a teenager, and the extra space/cheap rent will go a long way to making families happy and comfortable. For people who struggle with stairs, there is still the option to live on the ground floor and score the cheaper rent walk-ups are known for.

The other demographic that would love walk-up apartments is younger single people. Many folks’ first homes in NYC are walk-up apartments. They are great for folks who need roommates and those exploring the city for the first time. The cheap rent is ideal for young professionals, and walking up all those stairs is a great character builder. Just make sure you find an apartment that has updated appliances.


Walk-up apartments aren’t going anywhere. They are part of the NYC lifestyle, and people will continue to rent them for the cheap prices, privacy, and lack of neighbors. Indeed, they might not be for everyone, but those who live in these eclectic homes love them. They are unique, cute, and full of history and stories. A walk-in apartment is really what you make of it. If you hate stairs, don’t get one. If you don’t mind them, a walk-up can be one of the best aspects of your NYC adventure. So check out a walk-up apartment today! You might find something amazing.

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