What Is a Loft Apartment?

Article Summary:

Do you have lofty dreams, or do you want a dreamy loft? Loft apartments are modern and chic living spaces. They’re known for their tall ceilings, large windows, open spaces, and gritty but appealing aesthetics. In this article, you will learn more about what loft apartments are and why they are some of the most expensive but enticing abodes on the market.

This now-trendy habitat originated out of necessity in the 1960s. Old industrial or commercial buildings were converted into living spaces, mostly by artists who loved the lighting provided by the large windows. However, many developers have since noticed the demand for such living spaces and purposefully mimicked them when building new complexes.

Loft apartments are great for those living in urban areas who want a distinctive, rustic, and spacious residence. A loft apartment could be the perfect next place for you to live. Keep reading to learn more about loft apartments so that you can make the most informed decisions.

What is a loft apartment?

A loft apartment most commonly features an open floor plan, high ceilings, and large windows. They usually include some exposed architectural and mechanical elements, such as beams, pipes, and brick walls. They are spacious, typically ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet. Lofts sometimes feature vertical staircases to extended living areas, such as living rooms or bedrooms. Loft apartments are most commonly found in urban industrial areas, such as big cities. This is due to their inception in abandoned commercial and industrial spaces.

The three cities with the most properties with loft layouts in the United States are Pasadena, California (66.67% of properties are lofts), Allentown, Pennsylvania (58.42%), and New Haven, Connecticut (45.22%).

Buildings that contain multiple loft apartments can be considered multi-family homes.

Loft vs. studio apartments

Loft apartments are similar to studio apartments, but they also have important differences. The main differences are in size and kitchen additions. Studios are much smaller than loft apartments, with an average size of 600 square feet. Full-size kitchens are common in loft apartments. Kitchenettes are more common in studios. Consequently, studio apartments are cheaper to rent.

Loft apartments are not traditional apartments. Traditional apartments typically have at least a living area, bedroom, and bathroom. Loft apartments typically have a living area that includes an exposed bedroom area. Loft utilities are usually expensive. Because of this, they sometimes share common spaces.

Types of loft apartments

Loft apartments are typically categorized into two types: hard and soft. The distinction between the two isn’t black and white, but it is pretty self-explanatory.

Hard lofts

A hard loft is on the industrial side of the loft spectrum. It has the characteristics of a traditional rugged loft. Think exposed brick, pipes, ductwork, beams, and so on. Ceilings in a hard loft can be up to 10–20 feet. Furthermore, it is common for hard lofts to have cement flooring. Hard lofts are often restored industrial buildings or converted historic warehouses.

Soft lofts

Soft lofts are a less rugged spin-off of hard lofts. Typically, soft lofts are built to mimic the most appealing aspects of a true loft apartment. Soft lofts are sometimes restored residential buildings rather than industrial or commercial ones. Soft lofts can include contemporary upgrades and amenities not found in hard lofts because they are newer and designed with the tenant in mind. Some of these modern elements can include raised platforms with staircases, more storage space, better insulation, and sometimes even fitness centers within the complex or building. Of course, these are amenities you can also find in hard lofts, but it’s less common.

Pros and cons of loft apartments


As with any type of residence, there are pros and cons to loft apartments. Keep reading to find out what some of them are.

  • Tall ceilings and large windows allow for beautiful bright lighting in loft apartments.
  • Most loft apartments possess modern trendy aesthetic elements including interesting exposed features.
  • Loft apartments have open spacious floor plans available for interior design creativity.
  • Loft apartments (especially soft lofts) are often located within hip urban areas, sometimes with great activities to do in the area.
  • Hard lofts often have poor insulation. This makes it more difficult to regulate internal temperature, increasing utility costs. Loft apartments are not energy efficient.
  • Taller ceilings and less insulation make for echoing noise.
  • It can be difficult to keep a loft apartment looking neat.
  • Lofts have minimal storage space.
  • Loft apartments commonly lack amenities that some other apartments and complexes would have.
  • Rent for loft apartments is typically expensive.

How do I find the best loft apartment for me?

No loft apartment is like another. If it is a loft apartment you seek to rent, consider the following factors:

1. Budget

  • Experts recommend budgeting a maximum of one-third of your income before taxes to pay for rent.
  • Try finding roommates to rent with to increase your budget or decrease your monthly payments.
  • Look for incentives from landlords. Some landlords will offer move-in specials that can save you money when signing a lease for a loft apartment.
  • Trends indicate that December and January are the best times to sign a lease to achieve the lowest rent with the least competition. While there is no guarantee that any historical trend will hold true in the future, this one could save you money if it does. If you can, hold off until these months if you want to attempt to save some cash.
  • If you want to purchase a loft apartment, use SuperMoney’s resources on buying and financing properties. You can also learn how to buy a property at an auction — like a loft apartment.

2. Location

  • Lofts closer to city centers are typically more expensive. Consider looking for loft apartments just outside popular areas to reach more affordable rent prices.
  • Because many loft apartments are located within metropolitan areas, you’ll want to consider your work commute time in the location of your loft apartment. Check traffic trends and transit in the area. A commute can make or break your loft apartment’s suitability.

3. Priorities

  • Consider what amenities are your top priorities. Do you want a more modern look? Can you afford to pay a higher rent? Then a soft loft may be right for you. Are you a low maintenance artist who just wants some big windows? Maybe shoot for the hard loft in your apartment search.
  • Use loft apartment tours to get the feel for which loft apartment fits with what you need. Schedule tours at loft apartments that look good to you, and ask the landlords about utilities, parking, pets, maintenance, and any other priorities or concerns you have.
Pro tip: When researching and touring loft apartments, ask about utilities! Loft apartments are notorious for having expensive utilities. For this reason, it is important to get a good idea of what you are getting yourself into. What are typical utility costs? What utilities does the landlord cover, if any?

How to finance the purchase of a loft

Although financing a loft is very similar to financing any other property, there are some special considerations to keep in mind. For instance, since lofts are typically located in commercial or industrial areas, it is crucial to make sure you have the right permits and that zoning has been changed since some lenders will only consider mortgages for properties that are in residential areas. It’s not unheard of for deals to fall through after lenders have preapproved a mortgage because the property is still considered a commercial or industrial building.

Also, since many lofts require additional work before they can be used for residential purposes, many borrowers try to add renovation costs to their mortgages.


Are lofts a good investment?

Despite their cons, loft apartments are in high demand for their pros. Because of this, a good loft apartment could be a good investment. Loft apartments could very well stay trendy for many years to come.

What classifies an apartment as a loft?

Lofts are open floor plan apartments that are larger than studio apartments. They are either restored from abandoned industrial or commercial buildings or built to mimic such.

What is the difference between an apartment and a loft?

A loft is different than a traditional apartment. It resembles — or quite literally is — a living space made out of an old warehouse or another type of building. It can have one large living area and a bathroom, and sometimes has additional spaces, such as a raised platform or bedroom.

Why are lofts cheaper?

Loft apartments are generally expensive types of apartments. Some factors that can lessen the rent include locating out of popular areas, compromising on amenities, negotiating financial incentives with a landlord, and searching for apartments in December and January.

Are loft apartments quiet?

Loft apartments are not typically quiet for two main reasons. The ceilings are high, allowing for sound to travel more. The walls are not usually well insulated, allowing sound from neighboring apartments to travel easily.

Does a loft have rooms?

Yes, a loft has rooms. At the minimum, it has a main combined living room and a bathroom. However, some more expensive lofts can include bedrooms and exposed second stories as well.

Key takeaways

  • A loft apartment is a type of apartment that features tall ceilings, large windows, and exposed features. Lofts are like studio apartments, but much bigger.
  • Hard lofts are traditional lofts, usually old abandoned buildings converted into living spaces. Soft lofts are intentionally curated residences that mimic the favorable traits of hard lofts with modern enhancements.
  • Loft apartments are known to be on the more expensive side due to their larger size, desirability, and poor insulation. Many elements that make lofts expensive may be worthwhile for you. There will certainly be plenty of space for you to get creative with interior design.
  • To find the best loft for you, consider your budget, ideal locations, and amenity priorities.
View Article Sources
  1. Could late rent payments or problems with a landlord be in my credit report? — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    Important information to keep in mind as a renter.
  2. Relevant articles by Apartment Guide, Apartment List, and Apartments.com
  3. Tenant Resources — State of California
  4. Best Renters Insurance — SuperMoney
  5. How to Buy a House — SuperMoney
  6. Buy a House at Auction: Step-by-Step Guide — SuperMoney
  7. How to Finance a House — SuperMoney
  8. How To Finance Multiple Rental Properties — SuperMoney
  9. What is a Multifamily Home? Everything You Need To Know — SuperMoney