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Types of Apartments in NYC

Railroads, juniors, classics and walkups - New York City apartment types have a lexicon all of its own.

Before you start your search for a place to rent or buy, you’d be wise to decode some of the most common terms used to describe New York apartments and buildings.

Classic six

These much sought-after units typically include a formal dining room, a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms and a maid’s suite, which many families use as a home office or as a child’s room. Most classic six layouts also include at least two bathrooms and a foyer. The classic seven apartment has a similar floor plan, but includes an additional bedroom.


Classic Six layout


Each condominium unit comes with its own deed and its own tax bill. Owners share ownership of common spaces such as hallways and lobbies. Rental applications are typically submitted to the respective unit’s owner and reviewed by the condo board.


When you buy a co-op, you don’t actually own your specific unit. Instead, you own shares of a co-op corporation that owns the building. The larger your unit, the more shares you own within the corporation. Monthly fees cover building expenses including property taxes, utilities, insurance and staff salaries. Co-op purchasers must endure a rigorous approval process, including an interview with the building’s board.

Duplex apartment

These units include space on two separate, but adjoining floors connected by a private, interior staircase. These units most often are found in reconfigured townhouses, prewar buildings when two units are combined and newer luxury developments.



This term describes a unit that takes up the entire floor of a building or, at the very least, runs from the front of the building all the way to the back.

floor through

Garden apartment

Typically the bottom floor of a townhouse or brownstone. While layouts vary greatly, this type of unit often has its own entrance, usually below the stoop that leads up to the main entrance of the townhouse. In the rear of the apartment, there’s usually a garden area which may be shared with other tenants or it may be accessible only by those in garden-level units.


Junior one

This is a large studio or one-bedroom that has a small room or alcove that may or may not have a door separating it from the rest of the unit. The room may be used as a sleeping space, but if it doesn’t have a window, it would not be considered an official bedroom.

junior one

Junior four

This is a one-bedroom unit with four separate rooms – bedroom, kitchen, living room and another small room that could be used as an office or sleeping area, but doesn’t have a window or door to be considered a true second bedroom.

junior four


Lofts are large, open living spaces with high ceilings and often have exposed pipes and beams. These spaces were first located in older industrial buildings, but they’ve become so popular that many new condos and co-ops are constructed with loft-style floor plans.


Micro apartments

Under current zoning laws, all New York City apartments must be at least 400 square feet. In 2013, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg created an exception to that rule for “micro apartments.” The first of these units were unveiled in spring 2015, all ranging from 260- to 360-square-feet with big windows, ample storage, kitchenettes and Juliet balconies.



A one bedroom is an apartment with one “true” bedroom, which means the bedroom has a window, closet and a door and enough room for a bed and dresser.



A penthouse unit is located near the top floor of a building – typically in luxury apartments in high-rise buildings. In the early part of the 20th century, penthouses were actually structures located on the roof of a building. These days, the definition has been broadened a bit. Some buildings now boast multiple penthouses spanning their top two to three floors – all still legal penthouses because of setbacks in the roof design, allowing for terrace space.



A prewar apartment is one built before World War II. These units often have thick walls, crown moldings and other architectural details that can command a higher rent or purchase price. Prewar apartments tend to be large, elevator buildings and are often found on the Upper West and Upper East Sides.

Railroad apartment

This style of apartment derives its name from its straight floor plan, with one room leading directly into another. There are generally no hallways or foyers, which means you may have to walk through a bedroom to get to the kitchen, or through the kitchen to get to the bathroom.


Railroad layout2


A studio is generally a one-room space with a full bathroom, although sometimes the kitchen is separate from the general living space as well.



This is an apartment with two bedrooms, each separated by a door from other living space. Bedrooms must have windows that open to the street or the garden or courtyard. If it doesn’t have a window, it isn’t a legal bedroom.



It may seem obvious, but this is a unit in a building with no elevator, which means you’ll be walking up – and down – stairs to get there. These units are typically located in buildings with less than six floors. Buildings with more than six floors must have an elevator.


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