Photo of a doorman

A NYC doorman keeps a vigilant eye on the building and the neighborhood. Source: Timothy Krause via Flickr Creative Commons.

The debate over whether or not to live in a building with a doorman is one for the ages. Passionate discussions  have taken place on StreetEasy’s message boards and we all have our preferences. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of living in a NYC doorman building.

The Pros of a Doorman Building

Luxury service: A doorman is a luxury. Having someone who opens the door for you and greets you at the concierge desk is associated with living in a full-service building. Want to judge a building by the first impression you get? Start with the doorman and concierge service in the lobby.

Deliveries: With online shopping taking over, buildings are receiving deliveries on a regular basis. Having a doorman will ensure your package gets accepted without you having to wait at home for UPS.

Keeping strangers out and keeping you safe: Don’t want unexpected visitors wandering the hallways of your building, or loitering outside? A doorman is a sure bet to keep unexpected guests out of the building and away from your front door. A doorman also keeps track of people coming and going, and will get a good sense if illicit activities are taking place.

Preventing illegal alterations: In a doorman building, a contractor won’t be able to easily get into an apartment to start a construction project that hasn’t been approved by management. Illegal alterations could damage the unit under construction as well as surrounding units.

Se Manhattan Rentals With Doormen Under $3,000 a Month Article continues below

The Cons of a Doorman Building

Privacy: Maybe you’re a private person and don’t want someone knowing the ins and outs of your personal life. In a doorman building, the doormen will get to know your routine and see the people with whom you keep close company. You might not like that.

Gossip: In any doorman building, some residents will become extra chatty with the doormen — maybe even confide in them. While you would hope that doormen will keep a tight lid on everything they hear and see, they might share some things with other residents. This could make them sources of gossip, which may be harmless but could turn toxic in a hurry.

Cost: A doorman is not a free luxury. You’ll pay for a doorman as part of your rent or your building maintenance fees. Also, you’ll need to tip them during the holidays. Don’t want to tip them? You could then land on their bad side.

The Pros of a No-Doorman Building

Lower cost: Without a doorman, expect your rent or common charges to be lower than in a building with a doorman. With those savings, maybe you can afford more space, or just save money.

Privacy: Come and go as you please. Invite whomever you please. Do whatever you please, whenever you please. You won’t be bothered by anyone, unless of course your activities start raising a red flag with your neighbors. Then you may be hearing from management.

See Brooklyn Rentals With Doormen Under $2,800 Article continues below

The Cons of a No-Doorman Building

Delivery problems: People who live in buildings without a doorman likely won’t have anyone present during the work day to sign for their packages. While the majority of smaller items can easily be sent to one’s place of work, it becomes much more challenging for larger shipments. Expect to miss some days at the office while you’re sitting at home waiting for that delivery.

Nobody nearby to communicate with about issues: Have an issue with your apartment? Maybe a clogged pipe or something not working with the AC? You would probably mention those issues to the doorman, who would in turn mention any issues to management or the superintendent. Without a doorman, you’ll need to rely on making phone calls and sending follow-up emails to the super or manager.

Safety: It would be absurd to claim that doorman buildings are always safer than no doorman buildings. However, a doorman certainly helps keep out people who shouldn’t be there.


So which is it going to be — doorman or no? Remember that the choice you make today doesn’t need to be the choice you make next year. Celebrities often have to compromise full service for privacy when living in a city like New York. I recommend trying out both choices and seeing what better suits your style.

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