What is a Railroad Apartment? Pros/Cons of Living in One!

If you live in a big and overcrowded city, then chances are that you’ve heard of railroad apartments.

If you’re new to the term, then you may be wondering what does it mean exactly?

What is a Railroad Apartment?

Well, we are here to answer that for you.

To put it simply, a railroad apartment has no hallways and the only way to get to a room is by going through another room. There you have it! That is exactly how railroad apartments are defined.

A railroad apartment is a residential unit that has rooms aligned side by side in a single direction and directly leads into one another.

This type of apartment unit can be a tough living situation for families and people with roommates.

However, it is ideal for couples and people who wish to live alone. The reason is that it’s relatively, very inexpensive.

Finding the right and affordable place is a huge issue in big cities, and railroad apartments offer an excellent option.

Railroad apartments have rooms that enter into one another with the exception of bathrooms, which can connect to the side of each or one bedroom.

Some railroad apartments have multiple entrances that offer separate entryways to each room. These apartments could either have one bedroom or as many as three and more.

Most railroad apartments are located in building that run front to back. Many people often misjudge that all apartments with a linear layout are railroads.

However, that’s not entirely true. For an apartment to be categorized as a railroad, it must not have a hallway. If it does, then it’s not a railroad apartment.

Pros and Cons of Railroad Apartments

Railroad apartments have many pros and cons, depending on your specific situation. For instance, if you plan on living with a roommate or family, then privacy will be a huge problem.

But then again, the lack of privacy is also why they are less expensive than other apartments of the same size in the same neighborhood.

So, if your priority is to live economically, then you’ll have to compromise on the breach of privacy.

This problem can be extensively reduced if the railroad apartment offers multiple entrances leading directly into each bedroom.

Keep reading to learn about the cons and pros of railroad apartments in further detail below!

Cons of Railroad Apartments

Here we will list down the potential disadvantages of living in a railroad apartment. Let’s dive right in!

Lack of Privacy or Uncomfortable Living Situation

One of the most problematic and awkward situations arises up when you decide to live with a roommate who is not a significant other.

It is the lack of privacy and the awkwardness of living with someone.

For instance, if you live in the first bedroom, then your roommate will have to walk through your room every time they need to go out or come back in.

You’ll never feel a sense of privacy or complete ownership. Moreover, you’ll have to get used to being disturbed, woken up, and always feeling on your guard.

This problem can be significantly mitigated if the railroad apartment has multiple entrances.

That way, your roommate can have an entry and exit directly in and out of the room. Multiple entrances will save everyone the trouble of having to walk through each other’s rooms.

But there will still be some disturbance for accessing the bathroom, living room, or kitchen.

It all comes down to your situation. If you’re desperately in need of a cheap living place, then it could be the right choice for you.

But in any case, a railroad apartment isn’t ideal for long-term residence with a roommate.

One roommate will always compromise more

The problem with moving into a railroad apartment with a roommate is that one person will always get the worse end of the deal while the other one will get an ideal one.

This is a very challenging situation to live in because it can lead to conflict and resentment for the other.

In most cases, the person who gets the better end of the deal has to pay more in rent.

Lack of doors

Most floor-through railroad apartments are arranged from spaces that previously functioned as living and dining rooms.

The dining rooms are usually turned into bedrooms and, therefore, don’t normally have any real doors that separate it from the living room space.

To save on expenses, some landlords use screens or flimsy French doors to serve as partitions.

Pros of Railroad Apartments

Railroad apartments aren’t only about cons.

There are several benefits of living in these types of units as well. Keep reading as we list down the pros of living in a railroad apartment below!

Cost-effective option

If you live in a railroad apartment, you can save a lot of money on your living expenses.

On average, renting a railroad apartment costs between 15% to 20% less than regular apartments of the same size.

The cons of living in a railroad apartment can be overlooked if your primary concern is your finances.

The low cost of living almost makes up for the inconvenience.

Get creative with the layout

The unique layout of railroad apartments allows you to get creative with your space. These apartments offer a lot of space, but it’s disproportionately divided.

The railroad apartments are very long with shorter width, just like a train.

This unique layout gives you the opportunity to explore different furnishing designs, especially the ones that lean towards minimalism.

Bulky and big-sized furniture will make it difficult for you to navigate through your apartment comfortably.

Therefore, you’ll have to experiment with multifunctional and lighter designs of furniture.

Get the traditional and old-world charm without extra cost

Many people would give anything to live in vintage and old-world buildings because they have an irresistible charm.

Many of these buildings retain their pre-war design, including exposed brick walls, molding, fireplace, etc.

Since most railroad apartment buildings come under the same vintage category, they present a rare opportunity for you to live in an old-style building at a very low cost.

There is a very romantic aura about living in spaces that represent the original and age-old life of the city of your residence. So much so that it outweighs the cons that come with it.

Extra space for an office or studio

If you are renting a railroad apartment to live on your own, then you’ll have a lot of space to yourself.

What these apartments lack in privacy, they gain in offering space.

In the absence of a roommate, you can make utilize the extra space outside of your bedroom as your home office or a small art studio.

The Bottom Line

Railroad apartments are surely unique and offer benefits and disadvantages different from regular apartments.

If you’re new in town and want to live by yourself at a low cost, then railroad apartments make perfect sense for you.

They are also ideal for couples. However, if you plan on sharing the apartment with a roommate or family, then a railroad apartment may not be the best choice.

We recommend weighing the pros and cons in light of your specific situation to determine whether you should live in a railroad apartment or not.

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