Apartment types

What is a Duplex Apartment?

Rob Whiting
Boom Team

Finding the right home for you might be difficult, particularly if you have a family or you’re living with a group of friends. Getting a one-bedroom apartment is out of the question,two-bedrooms might be too small, and even a classic six apartment might still feel a bit cramped.

So, if you’re in this situation, you might need to find a duplex.

In the USA, almost 1 in every 5 households live in a duplex apartment. One of the main reasons for the popularity of duplex apartments is that they combine the privacy and space of a house with the convenience and ease of an apartment. Duplexes are a popular multi-family home because they offer a great way for families to stay close to each other while still offering a separate space for each family.

Indeed, duplexes are popular among extended families as well as with groups of friends looking to save on rent. According to a Streeteasy study, around 40% of New Yorkers live in “doubled-up households”, which includes those living in duplex apartments.

What is a Duplex Apartment?

The problem with duplex apartments is that the definition can be somewhat confusing because it can change depending on the location of the duplex apartment.

The “Common” Duplex Apartment Definition

The typical definition of a duplex apartment refers to two units in a building that are either side-by-side or stacked vertically. If the units are side-by-side, they will share a common wall.

Each of these two units is listed as separate and self-contained and may have different families living in each. There will be a separate entrance leading into each unit, and inside, you will find that they have similar square footage.

The “NYC” Duplex Apartment Definition

Here’s where it gets tricky: the New York definition of a duplex apartment is different from other parts of the country. In NYC, a duplex is defined as an apartment with two floors that are connected by either stairs or an elevator. However, the unit is listed as one unit even though each floor will have a separate bedroom and bathroom. You will usually find shared spaces such as a living room and a kitchen on the first floor of an NYC duplex apartment.

Since it's only listed as one apartment, duplexes are considered to be “luxury apartments” in NYC because they offer so much space for renters. When you rent a duplex in New York, you’ll be able to enjoy the perks of a two-bedroom apartment with the added benefit of having a separate bathroom for each floor of the unit.

Pros of a Duplex Apartment

There are several benefits that you can enjoy if you rent a duplex apartment in NYC, which is why they are some of the most sought-after apartments in the city. Here are the perks of living in a duplex.

Saving on Rent and Maintenance Costs

The average rent of a two-bedroom apartment in NYC is around $2,500 per month, so renting a duplex with another person means that you’ll be able to pay half the average rent. What’s more, you’ll be able to split maintenance costs between each person living in the apartment.

Living in Desirable Locations

In NYC, many duplex apartments are located in desirable neighborhoods such as Midtown East, Chelsea, and the Upper East Side. This means that you will be close to shopping, dining, and entertainment districts, as well as close to subway lines. Since they are also close to urban centers, many duplex buildings also offer modern amenities such as elevators and doormen for your convenience and comfort. What’s more, you might even get lucky and find a building that has a dedicated parking space for the occupants.

Ability to Live with Friends or Family

If you want to live with friends and family, a duplex is an ideal situation for you because it combines the spaciousness and privacy of a house and the convenient upkeep of an apartment. Even if it is considered as one unit, you’ll have multiple bathrooms and sleeping quarters, and common areas that are usually large enough to accommodate groups comfortably. This also means that you can host people over without worrying about your private space.

What to Consider When Renting a Duplex Apartment

While there are a lot of great things about living in a duplex, there are also some factors that you need to consider before deciding to rent one. Here are some of these factors:

Might Not Be For Everyone

Many duplexes in NYC have a spiral staircase, making it difficult to move up and down the stairs, if you live with small children or people with mobility issues. The narrow staircase can also make it difficult to move furniture and other furnishings around the unit.

Costly to Renovate

Many NYC duplexes are created by combining two separate apartments, which can result in odd layouts. If you want to renovate the apartment, it can be tricky to install new areas or renovate old ones, particularly if you need to access the plumbing. When renting a duplex apartment, you’ll need to consider the price of any future renovations because they can easily skyrocket if you want to make major changes to the layout of the unit.


Yes, even temperature can be a considerable factor when renting a duplex! During the summer, the second floor is more difficult to cool because hot air rises, and in the winter, the ground floor is more difficult to keep warm. You’ll probably need to do a balancing act with your thermostat to keep the whole apartment comfortable. If you’re living with multiple roommates, duplexes can be tricky to keep comfortable for everyone inside.

Is a Duplex Apartment Right For Me?

A duplex in NYC is great if you want to live with other people to save on rent, and if you’re the type of person who loves being in the heart of urban action. If you live alone but you love playing host, they’re also perfect because you’ve got a spare room and your own sleeping area is private. However, if you’re living with children, the elderly, and people with mobility issues, you might be better off in an apartment with one floor such as a two-bedroom apartment, or even a classic six apartment so that everyone has their own bathroom.

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