Basement apartments sound great on paper: They’re private, cozy little abodes that end up costing you less money!
According to Street Easy, basement apartments (in New York City) have a strict set of regulations:
“To be characterized as a basement apartment, at least half of the height of the apartment must be above street level. In order for owners of a single-family home to legally rent out their basement apartment, it must have ceilings at least 7 feet high, a window in every room, and the walls must be damp- and water-proofed. Basement apartments in two-family homes may not be rented, unless the building procures a new certificate of occupancy listing it as a multiple dwelling.”
As convenient and ideal as they sound, basement apartments aren’t for everyone. Before you put your money down on living in the ground, here are some key characteristics of basement apartments to consider:
You Will Get Bugs.
This one is a given; you’re living underground, where it’s nice, dark and cool. Critters could range from silverfish to millipedes (shudder) to even rodents. You can deter them by sealing up cracks and entrances, and getting rid of excess moisture in your home (see below).
Moisture Might Be an Issue.
Because basements are underground, they also tend to retain more moisture. Unfortunately, more moisture also means mold and bugs. You can prevent this by investing in a dehumidifier (or two!). DampRid containers in closets and containers will also help keep the environment dry.
Basements Are Not Ideal for Flood-Prone Areas.
All basements are prone to flooding, but you should be especially wary if your area gets excessive rain and you have a lawn that slopes towards your apartment. Always check to make sure your basement is flood-proof: this means that the apartment will have a tar sealant on both the inside and outside of foundation walls, and a “weeping tile,” which pulls water away from your home and into the local sewer system instead.
Basements Stay Cool in the Summer, But Cold in the Winter.
This can be a pro or a con, depending on where you live. Heat rises, which means that basements will stay cool during the warmer months. However, this also means that it’ll be colder in the winter. Make sure your doors and windows are sealed properly, and don’t discount the magic of space heaters.
The Noise Upstairs Is … Pretty Bad.
Often, the floors between upstairs and downstairs aren’t insulated, which means that even something as innocuous as someone walking on carpet will sound like thunderstorms to you. If you’re sensitive to sound, we highly recommend staying away.
Prepare to Have Minimal Light.
Per regulation, every room in a basement apartment must have a window. However, there are no regulations on the dimensions of that window, which means that you could have as little as a sliver!
Those of you who thrive on sunshine and natural light might want to steer clear of basements – even on the sunniest days, trees, shade and even other people’s cars could end up blocking the sun.
You’ll Save Some Bucks.
Not everyone wants to live in a basement apartment, which means that it’s often going to be less expensive than your typical apartment in a more desirable neighborhood. And if you have upstairs neighbors, your landlord might stipulate that you split the gas/electricity bill with them, which can also end up saving you money. Ultimately, if location is most important to you, basement apartments are a great way to get a good location while paying less.
You’ll Have a Private Entrance.
Introverts rejoice; basements often have their own private entrance separate from the rest of the house. Sometimes, this means only one tiny flight of stairs, which makes the move-in process a lot easier.