Mid-Rise vs. High-Rise Buildings: Choosing the Right Apartment

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Written By SmarterrMoney.org

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Ever stood in the heart of a bustling city gazing up at the towering behemoths and wondered what it would be like to live on the 40th floor? 

Or perhaps you’re more enticed by the charm of a mid-rise, nestled comfortably between downtown and the suburbs. 

While mid-rise and high-rise buildings offer similar features and characteristics, it’s about finding the vibe that fits you. So if you’re looking for your next rental, keep reading to determine which option is your ideal home.

What is a high-rise apartment building?

A high-rise building is a building with generally more than 12 floors. 

High-rises weren’t always about penthouse luxury. Born from the need to house booming city populations, they were originally built as practical solutions to limited urban space. 


Here are just the main advantages of renting in a high-rise building:

  • Spectacular views: One of the unbeatable perks of high-rises is the view the upper floors offer. Imagine sipping your morning coffee, gazing out over a sprawling cityscape or a tranquil ocean horizon. It’s a daily visual treat you won’t get tired of.
  • The latest amenities: Modern high-rises often include fitness centers, spas, in-unit laundry facilities, pools, and rooftop decks. If you’re eyeing luxury units, expect upscale features like granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and even efficient smart home systems.
  • A prime location: High-rises usually dot the hearts of cities, placing you near restaurants, shops, businesses, and entertainment hubs. Many amenities are often just a walk or short commute away.
  • Enhanced security: Buildings with concierge or porter services offer an added layer of security beyond surveillance systems. Not only does this offer peace of mind for residents, but it also ensures safe package storage.
  • On-site property management: Living in a high-rise means no more chasing landlords or management companies. On-site property management allows issues to be addressed promptly.
  • Pet-friendliness: Contrary to what some expect, many high-rises embrace pet-friendly policies, understanding that our furry friends are part of the family. Some high-rises even include pet spas.


As with all choices, there are some disadvantages to weigh if you’re considering a high-rise. These include:

  • Limited green space: High-rises, especially those in dense urban areas, may lack green spaces or courtyards in which residents can relax and rejuvenate.
  • Privacy concerns: Being part of a large community means having many neighbors. And sometimes, sound travels. Take a tour before signing a lease, and consider chatting with current residents about the building’s sound insulation.
  • Feeling the sway: Very tall buildings are designed to sway slightly for structural reasons. This sway is‌ a safety measure against wind and other environmental conditions. While it poses no danger to renters, some might find it unsettling.
  • Cost: With all a high-rise’s amenities comes a steeper price tag. The city you’re in, too, can influence rental prices. However, with thorough research, it’s possible to find a high-rise that doesn’t break the bank.

What is a mid-rise apartment building?

In the vibrant ecosystem of city living, mid-rise apartments offer a sweet spot: a blend between the community feeling of low-rises and several of the luxuries associated with high-rises. 

Mid-rise apartments typically span five to 10 stories, making them taller than your average townhouse but shorter than a skyscraper.


Life in a mid-rise apartment comes with benefits that cater to a diverse range of lifestyles. Here are some standout perks:

  • Outdoor spaces: One of the perks of many mid-rise apartments is the intimate outdoor spaces they often come with. Imagine looking through your spacious windows to view a well-landscaped communal garden that offers a touch of nature amid city life.
  • Versatile locations: Many mid-rise apartments offer close proximity to shops, restaurants, and businesses. So, you can enjoy a bit of tranquility while never being too far from the action.
  • Community vibe: The smaller scale of mid-rise apartments often means they offer a strong sense of community. It’s large enough for renters to meet new people but small enough for them to recognize familiar faces in the hallway.
  • Shorter elevator wait times: Fewer stories mean fewer people, which usually translates to shorter waits for elevators. A handy bonus when you’re in a rush!
  • A touch of luxury: Just like their taller counterparts, many mid-rises offer amenities like fitness centers, pools, or shared terraces. And the best part? They come without vertigo-inducing views.


While mid-rises offer numerous benefits, they come with a few potential drawbacks:

  • Lack of security: While many mid-rises have basic security measures in place, they often lack the 24/7 concierge or porter service that many high-rises offer. So, before renting a unit in a mid-rise, it’s worth inquiring about security cameras, door entry systems, and community watch programs.
  • Communal facilities: Instead of in-unit laundry or private amenities, some mid-rises might have communal facilities. This could mean waiting for your turn to do laundry or sharing the rooftop terrace with your neighbors.
  • Slightly removed: While they’re often found near conveniences, mid-rises might not be right in the heart of the city. This can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your personal preference.

Mid-rise vs. high-rise buildings: Which option best fits your life and budget?

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Choosing between mid-rise and high-rise living isn’t just about the number of floors or amenities. It’s also about the lifestyle you envision for yourself, both personally and financially. 

To help you make a decision, we outlined how both options differ regarding lifestyle and cost. 


High-rises are often the go-to for young professionals. They offer a dynamic environment—think rooftop gatherings, panoramic city views, and the pulse of urban life right outside your door. 

On the other hand, mid-rises exude a more intimate feel, often attracting families or those seeking a blend of city convenience and community warmth. Their design often fosters close-knit interactions, making it easier to get to know your neighbors or organize communal events.


High-rises, with their extensive list of amenities, often come with a heftier price tag than mid-rises. However, you might also have to pay extra fees, such as a monthly parking fee.

Mid-rises might lack certain amenities, but they are generally more affordable than high-rises upfront, with fewer hidden charges—plus the added advantage of green spaces.

Both high- and mid-rises have charm and their own sets of pros and cons. Oftentimes, the deciding factor isn’t just cost or the number of floors but the type of life and community you’re seeking. 

4 tips for finding mid-rise and high-rise rentals online

Searching for your dream apartment? The online world can be a maze, but with a little prep and know-how, you can snag the perfect spot. 

Here are some tips to guide you in this endeavor:

1. Determine your budget

Rent isn’t the only expense you need to consider. You’ll also need to factor in amenities charges, potential pet fees, security deposits, and parking fees. Those little extras can add up and put a dent in your budget.

Once you have a general idea of how much you’ll be spending on expenses, use the one-fourth rule to determine your cap search price. The one-fourth rule is a common recommendation that your housing expenses should be no more than one-fourth of your take-home pay. This can provide a good starting point for budgeting.

2. Choose your location wisely

Consider the following when determining the ideal rental location:

  • Vacancy rates: A higher vacancy rate might indicate issues with the area or building. On the flip side, a low rate suggests a desirable spot but possibly fierce competition.
  • Safety: Investigate local crime rates. Your safety and peace of mind are paramount.
  • Neighborhood perks: Look for attractions like parks, shops, and accessibility to public transportation. If you work from home, check out the internet connectivity in the building, too.

3. Determine your needs vs. wants

Reflect on the benefits mentioned earlier. What are your must-haves versus nice-to-haves? For instance, security or close proximity to work might be a “must-have,” whereas a rooftop pool might be a “want.” Balancing this list against your budget is key.

While it’s essential to know what you want, being a tad flexible might open doors (literally) to places you haven’t considered before.

4. Begin your search

Once you have an idea of your budget, location, and needs, you’re ready to dig into your search. Just remember that an apartment search typically takes between 60 and 90 days before move-in. Here are a few tips to help with your search:

  • Use online tools: Some rental platforms have filtering options you can use to match your preferences and budget. Realtor.com is one platform that offers oodles of listings that can be filtered by price, number of beds, move-in date, pets, and more.
  • Visit properties in person: Pictures can deceive, so always visit potential apartments in person. If possible, swing by at different times, like a Tuesday morning and a Friday evening, as this gives you a broader sense of the place and the neighborhood vibes.
  • Current renters: Chatting with a few residents can give you insider info. They’ll provide the unfiltered lowdown on living in the building.

Remember, it’s all about finding a spot that feels like home. Do your research, and trust your instincts.

Mid-rise vs. high-rise: Which type of building is safest?

While high-rises often meet stricter safety codes thanks to their towering stature (think advanced fire systems and disaster-readiness), mid-rise buildings meet tough safety standards, too. And, with fewer occupants and floors, evacuating them may be quicker. 

Always do your homework. Check safety certifications and local ratings.

Which floor is most desirable in a mid-rise apartment building?

There’s no definitive answer to this since it depends on what you need from a rental. A higher floor might shield you from the bustling street hum of a more urban setting. If the building has more of a suburban vibe, a lower floor means easy access to the street—plus a slice of greenery if the residence has a garden or courtyard. 

Which floor is most desirable in a high-rise apartment building?

In high-rises, top floors promise sky-high views and more peace. Lower ones? Quick ins and outs. And remember, elevators get busy, so a staircase-friendly floor could be your win. 

Some high-rise floors also pack special amenities, which might influence your choice.

Your next step in apartment living 

Deciding between a mid-rise and a high-rise can be challenging. 

But here’s the good news: there’s a way to sift through the maze with ease. On Realtor.com, you’ll find tools to help you sort out the best fit, from budget to amenities to location. Dive deep, learn the ins and outs of apartment hunting, and up your chances of snagging your dream place.