apartments under ho...
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apartments under houses?

Posts: 591
Honorable Member
Topic starter

This is more for the STX people i guess. But family set me up talking to a realtor in STT and he keeps talking about Apartments "under" houses.. I guess somehow houses with cisterns often use the extra space as a rental unit?
I guess I just can't imagine it - can somebody please explain the set-up and is it worth looking into ? Do these units tend to be nice? or does it feel like living in a basement?
What are they actually called? and How do you find them?

Posted : October 18, 2009 4:18 am
Linda from Michigan
Posts: 550
Honorable Member

I would say that most of the places I've rented have been just that. People tend to build a large home and make apartments in the "basement" area. They are like any other apartment. You need to look at something first to see if it meets your needs. I currently live in the "underneath" apartment of a house. This one happens to be built into a hill and it is like having a walk out basement on the back side.

The ones I've lived in are finished as any apartment would be - tiled floors, painted walls, decorations, kitchen, bathroom, windows - just happens to be on the bottom floor of the house.

The are actually called apartments and you find them in the paper, thru a realtor, or in talking to people. Just like any other place. Apartment buildings as such (complexes) are not a common thing here - the ones you see are either condo's or projects. Not like stateside where you have communities of apartment buildings for the middle income folk.

You'll be fine.


Posted : October 18, 2009 4:35 am
Exit Zero
Posts: 2460
Famed Member

The term basement may be confusing to many people - in the VI , because of the volcanic rocky land very few underground basements are dug. Generally the 1st floor of most structures will consist of a solid concrete box / room at least 16' X 16' X 8' high above ground that will be your cistern - and the the walls with windows and rooms that are built around it on 2 or 3 sides become the foundation for the home above but are outfitted as a seperate apartment. The ceiling of that apartment is the slab floor of the house above. On a hill one side may be at groundlevel and the other side facing downhill with a wonderful view. The rooms are not dug into the ground with the windows above eye level like many stateside 'basements'.
Sometimes it does feel like living in a cement box depending on the design but they are almost always a good safe and private place to rent with the home owner usually living upstairs.

Posted : October 18, 2009 12:20 pm
Posts: 3111
Famed Member

Not all apartments in houses are in the "basement" either. Since real estate is so expensive here, almost everyone adds an apartment, or two, to supplement the mortgage payment. Some are on the same level as the main house, some above and some below. You will often find guest cottages, too. Depending on the area, and the landlord, the apartments can be really nice, often furnished similar to the main house, more often furnished with the furniture that used to be in the main house before the owner bought new, which is fine too. If you look at in-house apartments in an upscale neighborhood, you will most likely wind up with a nice place.

Linda is right about apartment complexes. We own one of the very few actual apt. complexes on STX. We only have 12 units. You won't find the big sprawling complexes that you might be used to in the states. Some of the condos are quite large and offer all the usual amenities, but are usually expensive.

Posted : October 18, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 2259
Noble Member

I prefer to refer to them as floors. My three story house has an apartment on the bottom floor or story. In most instances, the top floor is on street level, at least here in St Thomas.

Posted : October 18, 2009 4:33 pm
Posts: 591
Honorable Member
Topic starter

Do they tend to be priced more, less or the same as other types of rentals?
You're explanations are so descriptive - it makes much more sense to me now.

Posted : October 18, 2009 5:13 pm
Posts: 2259
Noble Member

Yes, market value. Some landlords treat great long term tenants with lower rent. Short term brings more as folks won't be around for longer than a few months.

Posted : October 18, 2009 5:52 pm
Posts: 1250
Noble Member

I live in a cistern-level apartment on a hillside. It gets great light and a nice breeze, even though the back wall has no windows. I've seen quite a few that I wouldn't want to live in, though -- it really does depend on the design and the location.

Posted : October 18, 2009 6:30 pm
Posts: 219
Estimable Member

Sent you a PM. I have lived in two, and it is the norm. They both were ground level, but worlds apart. It depends on the home and the landlord. The studio downstairs apt. was about the same price as a one-bedroom stand-alone cottage I'm in now, both on top of hills and good views. Make sure you know who or get an inkling of whom is living above/next to you. It really makes a big difference!

Posted : October 18, 2009 8:51 pm
Posts: 181
Estimable Member

I live in a studio that's under a house right now on STT. It's a great little spot and my landlords are quite awesome. Rent is very reasonable for here too.

I know why it can be confusing, if you're like me you lived in apartment complex after complex in the states. Not too many of those here, and those that are here are pretty scary looking.


Posted : October 21, 2009 7:05 pm
Posts: 92
Trusted Member

I live in a cistern level apartment also, on STT. There are many rentals around the area I live, but their all so different. I have several windows and a galley that is quite roomy and over looks the waterfront and downtown. My landlord is awesome also, she does keep the place up.
It is best to look when you get here, rather than rent sight unseen.

I have to say that I did not take that advise, but I got lucky. My landlord was in the middle of a re-model on my place, so she sent me pictures as it was happening., and I did a lot of research on the property.

After I got here and started looking around at rentals signs, some of the places I would not live in. They might look good on pictures, but you don't know what is on either side of you or the neighborhood. So it is best to wait till you are here to find a place.

Good luck and welcome, Christina

Posted : October 21, 2009 8:29 pm
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