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What is a Walk-Up Apartment? The Pros and Cons

What is a Walk-Up Apartment? The Pros and Cons


A walk-up apartment is just one of the many different apartments out there. These apartments have been around for centuries and were a very popular option for renters before elevators. Although not the most convenient, it’s a great choice for those that don’t mind the extra exercise. Located in older buildings and urban areas like Manhattan, NY, this apartment is a great alternative for people looking for a more affordable rental home. Read on to learn if a walk-up apartment is a good fit for you.


What is a walk-up apartment?

A walk-up apartment is a type of apartment that doesn’t have elevators; so stairs are the primary way to navigate throughout the building. These apartments usually don’t exceed more than 5-7 floors and can include a studio, one-bedroom, and multi-bedroom layout, depending on the building. Since they’re often in older buildings, many of these apartments have a historic style to them. They can include features like exposed brick, original crown molding, and bay windows.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of walk-up apartments? 

When deciding if a walk-up apartment is right for you, you’ll want to consider your budget, size requirements, and where you want to live. Check out these pros and cons to help you make your decision. 


Affordability: Walk-up apartments are generally cheaper than similar apartments in the same area due partly to their lack of elevators. Since there are no elevators, tenants looking for convenience typically seek out other apartment styles, driving the demand for walk-up apartments down. Normally, these types of apartments don’t have a doorman, which can also contribute to lower rent.

Location: Since walk-up apartments are popular throughout dense historic cities, they’re often located in community-oriented areas. Depending on the city, these apartments can be built close to mass transit, shops, and restaurants. 

Privacy: Located in smaller buildings, these apartments have generally fewer tenants, meaning more privacy for everyone.

Exercise: While some may consider the lack of an elevator a disadvantage, if you look at it from a glass half full perspective, it can be beneficial to live in a building with stairs. More stairs mean you’ll definitely get those steps in.

Historic style: A walk-up apartment can encompass everything that makes a historic building special. From checkered floors and exposed beams to original hardwood flooring and unique layouts, these apartments are full of character.


Stairs, stairs, and more stairs: Living on the top floor may seem like a dream, but if you’re living in a walk-up apartment, it can be a nightmare. Carrying groceries, running errands, and commuting are factors you’ll want to consider when moving.

Moving: Moving your belongings up and down multiple flights of stairs can be a lot of work. Whether you’re moving in or out of a walk-up apartment, you may want to think about recruiting your friends and family to help.

Older buildings: Although older buildings do provide vintage charm, you’re more likely to find outdated amenities and appliances. Since the building is older, there are most likely thin walls and floors, so hopefully, your neighbors aren’t too noisy.

Not ADA accessible: One of the most significant downsides of walk-up apartments is that they aren’t ADA accessible. If having to walk up and down multiple flights of stairs is an issue, a walk-up apartment is likely not the right option for you. 


FAQs about walk-up apartments 

Where can you find walk-up apartments?

Commonly found in heavily populated cities like Boston, MA, walk-up apartments are generally located in neighborhoods of cities close to various amenities the city offers. 

How much does a walk-up apartment cost?

Depending on the city in which you’re apartment hunting, asking rents for these types of apartments will vary. When compared to another style of apartment with similar square footage, walk-up apartments may generally go for around a few hundred dollars less a month. 

Will packages arrive at my door?

Since walk-ups hardly ever have a doorman, there’s no one in the lobby to accept your packages. If your apartment complex has a mail-room or a parcel hub, your packages will likely be here rather than directly at your door or with the doorman.

How to style walk-up apartments

Just like with any home, you want your apartment to feel cozy, comfortable, and functional. We spoke to experts who shared their insights on how to upgrade your home with light items that won’t be hard to move upstairs. Here is what they had to say:


We spoke to EE Ward, an award-winning Columbus Mover who suggests using mirrors to brighten the space. “Mirrors can be a decorative and subtle way to enlarge a room and use the light in the room to project and create more light. By hanging mirrors, even small ones on the wall and in-wall groupings, you can help to make the room larger and reflect existing lights.” He continues by saying, “Hang a mirror directly across from a window or at a 90-degree angle. This will reflect the light coming through into previously dark areas of the apartment.” All different sizes of mirrors have the same effect, which makes this item a great piece to incorporate into any home.


Using futons is a great multifunctional way to maximize space in an apartment. “Futons are a great way to sit or sleep, more comfortable and easier to move than a sleep-sofa,” says Siesta Sleepworks. “Interchangeable covers make it easy for cleaning or changing the look of your room.” A good quality futon is a great alternative for having a mattress and a couch. This can save you space and a trip upstairs!


Having multi-purpose furniture will help with the long haul up the stairs and will help make your apartment seem bigger. Another important furniture piece that can be used in various ways is ottomans. 

To give you an idea of how versatile this furniture piece is, Elise Gabrielson from Crypton Home Fabric gave us her insights, “These little upholstered cuties can be used for adding cushy, comfy seating to any room or adding a tray to use them as little side tables or even grouped together for a coffee table.” Gabrielson continues, “A bonus is that some of them even have a little interior storage space. When not in use, they can tuck easily under a console table and look pretty there, too. Get ones covered in a performance fabric, so they repel spills, are easily cleanable, and will still look like new when you’re ready to move into a bigger space.”


A key factor in deciding which type of furniture is right for you is the way you use it, says product discovery platform Mavigadget. “If you need extra space in your bathroom, office, living room, or even a bedroom, invest in shelving with a fold-out table. Such a product gives you plenty of room for books and knick-knacks. It also has a feature that lets you use it as a workspace and dining table.” Adding simple shelving for storage will be easier to bring upstairs than an awkward bulky dresser.

The bottom line when it comes to walk-up apartments

Before you start touring apartments, you need to know what you’re looking for. If your need for elevators and a doorman is a top priority, these style apartments aren’t for you. But if you don’t mind stairs, are looking for a more affordable apartment, and are determined to live in a specific location, walk-up apartments might be the perfect fit.  There are plenty of apartment styles and options out there. It’s important to think about your priorities and do the necessary research so you know what to look for. 


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