The NYC real estate market is incredibly nuanced, especially when it comes to apartment types. Through the course of our podcast and articles we’ve written, we’ve covered many different apartment types, but today, we’re covering another ground floor offering – the maisonette apartment.
What is a maisonette apartment in Manhattan?
Technically speaking, a maisonette is a first floor apartment in a multi-unit apartment building with a private entrance from the street. Some New York brokers will expand the definition to include first floor apartments with an entry directly off of the lobby.
This basic definition of the term maisonette leaves a little information to be desired, though. What is the origin of the maisonette? Where can you find maisonettes? What are the pros and cons of purchasing a maisonette? We’ll cover all of that and more in the rest of this post.
Would you rather watch than read? Click the link below to play our episode about maisonettes!
Classic Characteristics of a Maisonette Apartment
Maisonettes are technically defined as first-floor apartments that are part of a larger apartment building that come with a private entrance from the street. But, as with many things in New York real estate, agents also use the term for other types of apartments along the same vein.
Agents may also use the term maisonette to refer to:
- Apartments that have a ground floor entrance off the lobby, but there’s not a separate entrance from the street.
- Apartments that are up a few stairs (not flights), but there’s still an entrance directly from the lobby, and you don’t have to take an elevator to reach the apartment.
- Apartments that have an entrance from both the lobby and the street (this is actually the most common format for a maisonette).
- Apartments that have an outdoor space. In other words, maisonettes CAN be garden apartments, but they don’t have to be.
Listen to our podcast about maisonettes at the link below!
History of the Maisonette Apartment
Merriam-Webster defines maisonette as “small house”, which comes from the original word in French. The maisonette apartment was likely nicknamed little house due to their larger layout and private entrances that give the space a more single-family-home feel.
With that being said, many maisonettes were originally office/retail spaces or live/work spaces. That original use often carries over in slightly more flexible usage for its owner, making this type of apartment popular among doctors, psychiatrists, etc. The live/work space can be divided by floor (yes, some maisonettes have two floors!) or into two parallel spaces by different entrances.
Where Are Maisonettes Commonly Found?
If your heart is set on a maisonette apartment, you’re going to have to hunt thoroughly, as they are rare! With that being said, a great real estate agent or team (like The Gasdaska Conlon Team!) can help you find whatever apartment you are looking for, whether it’s a maisonette or another type of apartment.
Generally speaking, you’re more likely to find a maisonette apartment in a pre-war building on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, or in the West Village. Some new construction maisonettes exist in Cobble Hill, Park Slope, and Williamsburg as well.
You Should Purchase A Maisonette Apartment If…
You’re searching for a luxury property, not just another apartment. Maisonettes are often considered as high-end as penthouses, though the luxuries these homes offer can differ quite a bit. With your own private entrance, larger floor plan, and a layout that is more unique than the rest of the units in that building, a maisonette apartment is absolutely a great choice for certain buyers.
Your household desires a bit more privacy. Apartment living comes with a lot more visibility when it comes to neighbors and building staff. When you buy a maisonette apartment, you can come and go as you please with a bit more privacy since you won’t be restricted to entering your home through the elevator or the lobby. The private entrance makes the home feel a bit more separated, more like a townhouse.
You have a larger household. Maisonettes are typically a bit more spacious than other types of New York apartments due to the original use of the space. That means that each room feels larger AND you can expect more bedrooms and flex space. If there will be a larger number of people living in the apartment with you, or you just want a little extra space, a maisonette apartment can be an attractive choice.
You want a private backyard or garden. Outdoor space is highly sought-after in Manhattan, and the prospect of a private green space even more so. Many maisonettes are like townhomes or garden apartments in that they often come with access to such space.
Your household enjoys the amenities of apartment living. The amenities and common utilities of apartment buildings are fantastic. However, having to share elevators, laundry, trash chutes, or a lobby with every other resident in the building isn’t ideal for every buyer. The maisonette apartment is the perfect midpoint between an apartment and a townhome. You get to enjoy the amenities you choose to share while also retaining a little more privacy than you’d get with a traditional apartment.
Stay Away From A Maisonette Apartment If…
You’re sensitive to loud noises. Being on the street level does come with some drawbacks, like hearing car horns, construction noise, and sirens more clearly. Sure, it’s possible to renovate the home to include sound proofing, but there’s only so much that can be done to mitigate the noise. Especially if you have a lot of windows in the space.
Your dream home includes a skyline view. If it’s at all important for you to have a breathtaking view of the city around you, don’t go for a maisonette apartment – since they are most often located on the ground floor, you will get a street view, not a sweeping skyline view.
You want a home flooded with natural light. When you’re surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings and you live on the ground floor, it’s hard to get sun exposure on your windows. Most of the natural light that does come in will be bouncing off of and diluted by the surrounding buildings, especially if your maisonette is in the back of the building.
You are afraid of the occasional pest. Another annoyance that comes with living on street level is that you’ll be more likely to deal with rodents and pests. These creatures often seek refuge in ground level apartments, no matter how luxurious they are, because of their proximity to the food and water they scavenge on the street. It’s nothing that having a good exterminator on call can’t fix, but if you are especially mouse or rat phobic, be warned!
Now You Know!
Armed with everything you needed to know (and maybe a little bit more) about maisonettes, it’s time to get out there and start searching. Whether you choose to go the maisonette route or not, the Gasdaska Conlon Team is here for you.
Ask any questions, voice any concerns, or just use us as a sounding board. We’re happy to assist you and your household to make savvy decisions in residential real estate in New York City.