What to Consider Before Renting an Apartment Above a Store

What to Consider Before Renting an Apartment Above a Store

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iStock.com/Sean Pavone

Years ago it was common for shopkeepers to live above their businesses, but today the apartment over a business is often rented out. While it might 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 found above convenience stores, bars, and restaurants. Or, the business below an apartment may be a professional office such as that of a CPA, insurance agent, or lawyer. It may be a specialty shop, like a bookstore, music store, or cigar shop. It can also be a service provider such as a salon or dry cleaner, or a creative venue, like a music shop 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 professional office may 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.

Rent Costs

The rent can be either lower or higher than average in the area for an apartment above a store. An older, less-modern apartment above a store may be a little cheaper to rent, and sometimes the landlord covers certain utilities like garbage pickup or water. Rent may be higher than average if the apartment is in a premium downtown location and the unit is newly renovated.

Foot Traffic in the Neighborhood

A downtown location may be a place where there is a lot of foot traffic and activity. If you’re a social person or you enjoy people-watching you may find this a welcome perk, but this may be a downside if you prefer privacy and seclusion over crowds.

Noise Levels

Bars and restaurants might play loud music or have customers congregating outside. For instance, while customers take a smoking break or wait for a table, they may gather near the apartment’s entryway or below the windows. If you’re sensitive to noise, this may be a drawback. However, there are many ways to add soundproofing so external noises have less impact on the apartment space.

Accessibility to Apartment

Apartments above storefronts often lack amenities such as elevators. This means that you have to walk up the stairs every time you leave and return home, including times when you’re carrying groceries or laundry. You also may have to get your furniture up a narrow staircase, depending upon the size of the stairwell. Inspect the access hallway to the apartment and consider the impact it might have if you live there.


There may be unique smells wafting through an apartment above a business. If the store is a bakery or restaurant, the smell of delicious foods may be appealing, but it may also lead to the consumption of one too many doughnuts! Also, the restaurant’s food smells may be unappealing instead of tempting.

Shops besides restaurants emit smells as well. For instance, dry cleaners or cigar shops may give off a distinctive odor in the building. Coffee shops emit strong odors as well, which can be appealing or unappealing depending on your personal preferences. Check inside and outside of the apartment to see if there are unusual smells nearby.

Automobile Traffic, Parking, and Public Transportation

Living above a store can offer many pros and cons relating to the issue of transportation. If the shop is on a street with busy traffic, you may have a lot of car traffic, which may also impact the noise level of the apartment. You might also have a hard time finding a parking place if the apartment doesn’t offer you a private parking spot.

However, if you’re in the midst of a downtown area, you may be able to walk or even ride a bike to many of the places you go. If public transportation is available, this may also be a great convenience. You may even find that you won’t need a vehicle if you can access everything you need by foot, bike, or public transport.

Convenience and Amenities

You might want to make a list of the different resources living in an apartment above a store can offer to you. It can be extremely convenient to live in an apartment above a grocery store or a restaurant. Even if you live above a business you never shop at, 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 provide a terrific view of the city or its attractions, like a local harbor or skyline.

Sense of Community with Regular Patrons

Living above a business, you may find yourself developing a sense of community with the store’s regular customers. The store below may even accept packages for you so you don’t miss a delivery while you’re at work. For people who live far from their family, this can be an unexpected and very welcome perk to living in an apartment over a store.

Potential Health Benefits

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

Exposure to New and Different Experiences

Living above a store may open you up to new and different possibilities, such as finding a new hobby. For instance, you may try yoga simply because there’s a yoga studio directly below you. Or, you might find yourself reading more often instead of watching TV if you live above a bookstore.

If you’re considering renting an apartment above a store, there are many potential benefits to this type of living arrangement. However, there can also be a few unexpected drawbacks. Explore the area carefully and make a list of the pros and cons before you decide to live above a business.

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