Pros And Cons Of Living On The Top Floor

View from 360 condos penthouse.  Photo by KevinB from SkyscraperPage

View from 360 condos penthouse. Photo by KevinB from SkyscraperPage. Click to view listing.

One of my favorite websites is  I was happy to find this article that highlights the potential downfalls of living on the top floor of a building.  Though, depending on the desires of my clientele, quality of the building, and height of the building, I will advocate for the top floor.   For instance, if they are sensitive to sound, I’ll point out that having nobody live above you means less risk of some girl in high heals, or a guy in boots with a penchant for pacing, to keep them up at all hours.  On the other hand, the top floors will frequently cost more to cool.  Especially if the attic space (if any) is poorly insulated.

Below is a quote from the story.

“Apartments are constructed at the cheapest costs possible and change hands often. I frequently pay more in utility bills than friends who have twice the space I do (and the temperature control doesn’t always guarantee comfort). Third floor units often offer vaulted ceilings, which are cool for aesthetic but bad for budgets.”

This statement is a generalization, but I’m comfortable agreeing with it when discussing older complexes and some new construction outside of downtown.  High rise apartment buildings like the Monarch, Legacy, and Ashton, which are built from concrete and metal, are not immune to these issues, but they are much less prone to excessive noise and increased energy costs.  In most downtown Austin buildings, energy costs are driven by which side of the building you face.  If you face west, then you get the scorching hot evening sun.  Interview residents in any building oriented north-south, on average those who live in units that face east will have lower energy bills than those living in units that face west.

Lifehacker: “Avoid The Top Floor To Save On Aparment Expenses


The Downtown Austin Blog studies Austin’s penthouse economics



About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude has served on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.


  1. avatar Katherine H says:

    I lived on a top floor one year and had the dreaded leaky ceiling problem. Took months to be adequately repaired. Never again.

    As for the energy costs, it’s ironic that west-facing apartments may ‘seem’ better for their sunset views–does that translate into higher prices?–yet they have higher energy costs.

  2. Another problem with living on the top floor is long elevator rides in buildings that don’t have express elevators. In particular, the 360 has only a few elevators to service all 400+ units. Each elevator services every floor, so it can be a long, long ride to the top or bottom if you take the elevator during high traffic hours.

    If I’m paying big money to get a penthouse unit, I think I’d also want special elevator service.

  3. All good points, Jude. A few more items:

    — If the roof springs a leak, the top floor gets the worst of it
    — In really tall buildings, like the Austonian, the building sways noticeably in the wind, and that effect is greatest at the top
    — Above about 50 floors or so, you can get ear-popping issues as you go up and down the elevator. Doesn’t affect everyone, but is something to be aware of

  4. I’ll note that we are surprised by how much more noise we here now that we live on a higher floor. We moved from 3rd floor directly overlooking Lamar to recessed from Lamar on the 22nd floor and we hear more sirens, etc. Vaguely recalling my physics, I believe high pitched sound is more directional but also more easily absorbed by trees, buildings, etc. Thus from the 22nd floor we have more streets we can see and thus more sirens.

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