What to Consider Before Renting an Apartment Above a Store

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iStock.com/Sean Pavone

Years ago it was common for traders to live above their businesses, but today the apartment above a business is often rented. While it may seem very convenient to rent an apartment above a store, there are several factors to consider before deciding to live above a business.

Type of business below the apartment

Apartments are often located above convenience stores, bars and restaurants. Or, the business under an apartment may be a professional office such as that of a CPA, insurance agent, or lawyer. This could be a specialty store, such as a bookstore, music store, or cigar store. It can also be a service provider such as a salon or dry cleaning, or a place of creation, such as a music store or a dance, yoga or art studio. .

An important factor to consider before renting an apartment above a store is whether the business below will interfere with your lifestyle. For example, a business office might be open during the day and close at 5 or 6 p.m., but a bar or restaurant might be open until midnight or later.

Rental costs

Rent may be lower or higher than the neighborhood average for an apartment above a store. An older, less modern apartment above a store can be a bit cheaper to rent, and sometimes the landlord covers some utilities like garbage or water. Rent may be above average if the apartment is in a prime downtown location and the unit has been recently renovated.

Pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood

A downtown location can be a place with a lot of foot traffic and activity. If you are a social person or enjoy people watching, you might find this to be a welcome perk, but it can be a downside if you prefer privacy and seclusion over crowds.

Noise levels

Bars and restaurants may play loud music or have patrons congregating outside. For example, while clients are taking a smoking break or waiting for a table, they may congregate near the entrance to the apartment or under the windows. If you are sensitive to noise, this can be a disadvantage. However, there are many ways to add soundproofing so that outside noise has less of an impact on the apartment space.

Accessibility to the apartment

Apartments above storefronts often lack amenities such as elevators. This means you have to climb the stairs every time you leave and come home, including when carrying groceries or laundry. You may also need to mount your furniture up a narrow staircase, depending on the size of the stairwell. Inspect the hallway to the apartment and think about the impact it might have if you live there.


There can be unique smells that float in an apartment above a business. If the store is a bakery or a restaurant, the smell of delicious food can be appealing, but it can also lead to eating one too many donuts! Additionally, restaurant food smells can be unpleasant instead of tempting.

Stores in addition to restaurants also emit odors. For example, dry cleaners or cigar shops can give off a distinctive smell in the building. Coffees also have strong odors, which can be either appealing or unappealing depending on your personal preferences. Check the interior and exterior of the apartment to see if there are any unusual smells nearby.

Car traffic, parking and public transport

Living above a store can offer many advantages and disadvantages when it comes to transportation. If the store is on a busy street, you may have a lot of car traffic, which can also impact the noise level in the apartment. You might also have difficulty finding a parking space if the apartment does not offer you a private parking space.

However, if you are in the middle of a city center, you may be able to walk or even cycle to many of the places you go. If public transport is available, this can also be very convenient. You might even find that you won’t need a vehicle if you can access everything you need on foot, by bike, or by public transport.

Convenience and amenities

You might want to make a list of the different resources that living in an apartment above a store can offer you. It can be extremely convenient to live in an apartment above a grocery store or restaurant. Even if you live above a business where you never shop, a downtown apartment can be within walking distance of many other businesses. You also have a front row seat for parades or local community events. Some downtown locations offer great views of the city or its attractions, such as a local harbor or skyline.

Sense of community with repeat customers

Living on top of a business, you might find yourself developing a sense of community with the store’s repeat customers. The store below can even accept packages for you so you don’t miss delivery while you’re at work. For people who live far from their families, it can be an unexpected and much appreciated benefit to living in an apartment above a store.

Potential health benefits

There are actually some potential health benefits of living above a store, like getting more exercise. You may have to go up and down some stairs to get to your apartment. Most of your daily needs can be within walking distance of your home, so you might be walking more frequently.

Exposure to new and different experiences

Living above a store can open up new and different possibilities, like finding a new hobby. For example, you can try yoga just because there is a yoga studio right below you. Or, you might find yourself reading more often instead of watching TV if you live above a bookstore.

If you are considering renting an apartment above a store, there are many potential advantages to this type of accommodation. However, there can also be some unexpected drawbacks. Carefully explore the area and make a list of pros and cons before deciding to live on top of a business.

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