Does it matter where the windows are in your apartment?
Is it about the view, the light, or Feng Shui?
Does any thought at all go into designing an apartment facing? Do architects pay attention to cardinal points?
1. Apartment Facing Considerations
The reasons why apartment facing matters depends on:
- Your personality.
- Potential view.
- Local climate.
The apartment-facing direction can significantly impact your mental wellbeing, promoting contentment and security or diminishing it.
Your apartment facing direction also influences how much you need to pay for it and its eventual marketability.
2. What Is the Best Facing Direction for an Apartment?
The best facing direction depends on a combination of factors.
Maximizing Natural Light
You need natural light because it:
- Saves energy on both light and heat.
- Helps you focus on mental tasks.
- Reduces stress and anxiety.
- Makes your apartment more marketable.
- Helps your vitamin D levels.
- Regulates your body clock.
Maximizing light or minimizing excess heating from a hot sun depends on where you live.
The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and that daily cycle means your apartment facing dictates when and how you get natural light in your apartment.
If you work long hours and only return to your apartment to sleep, you may feel that natural light is not high on your list of priorities.
But if you have hobbies like painting or crafting, you may want abundant natural light during your leisure time.
Alternatively, if you are retired or work from home, the noise, pollution, light, and the view from your window may be significant factors in your happiness levels.
If you like to get up early in the morning, an East facing bedroom window means you can wake with the dawn.
If you prefer evening light, a West facing apartment may suit you better.
Although you can use drapes and blinds to screen a nosy neighbor or block a depressing view, that cuts your natural light levels and increases energy costs.
What you see through the windows of your apartment influences your day. Research shows that seeing nature (even a single urban tree) improves your health and productivity and lowers your aggression.
People who spend many hours at home may benefit from a busy street scene, allowing them to feel connected to their community.
An apartment with a balcony will be more enjoyable if it does not face a noisy or highly polluted road.
The way your apartment faces determines the view from the windows.
Your local climate may be hot and dry or cold and wet.
You may have seasons with strong winds or months when the temperatures are dangerously hot or cold.
Your apartment facing direction can help minimize the impact of your local climate on your comfort levels.
In excessive heat, you may prefer to minimize the hot sunlight that pours into your rooms, whereas in a colder climate, you want the opposite.
The location influences the desirability of your apartment facing direction.
If you live on the coast, a sea view is worth more to most homeowners than one aligned with the sun.
In a noisy urban environment, you may prefer to face away from traffic to minimize the noise and pollution levels in your apartment.
If you buy your apartment off-plan, consider how the rest of the site will develop. You may move in with a pleasant view to find that another apartment block will block out the light and the view in a few months.
Location is essential to a property’s desirability, and those rules apply to apartments depending on your goals.
A busy professional may appreciate a city center apartment within easy commuting distance of work, and a retiree may prefer a less urbanized setting.
Equally, busy professionals may choose an apartment away from work where they can relax and refresh. The retiree may like to access entertainment and other facilities in an urban area easily.
The value of a location depends on your needs and desires.
3. Are North Facing Apartments Best?
In the northern hemisphere, this direction minimizes extreme heat in hot summers. North-facing apartments are popular in places like Arizona.
The advantages of minimizing extreme heat with a North facing apartment are:
- Lower energy costs in running your air conditioning.
- Better sleep as the apartment is cooler at night.
- More natural daylight as you can leave the drapes open for longer.
In a colder climate like North Dakota, a North-facing apartment is less ideal because:
- Increase in energy costs for heating – passive solar heating is less pronounced in apartments than in houses, but south-facing windows bring in more heat.
- Decrease in natural light, which impacts health and wellbeing.
Verdict: A north-facing apartment is best for staying cool in summer in the hot parts of the northern hemisphere.
4. Are South Facing Apartments Best?
South is directly opposite North on the compass, so the advantages of a South-facing apartment in a cold northern area include:
- Reducing heating costs by allowing some passive solar heating.
- Increases natural light.
In a hot climate, the disadvantages of South-facing apartments include:
- Increase in air conditioning costs.
- Decrease in natural light – you use blinds to keep the sun out.
- Excess heat builds up in the apartment, making sleep uncomfortable.
Another disadvantage of maximum sunlight is sun bleaching of artworks and furniture, and the sun is incredibly destructive for textiles and paint.
Verdict: If you live in a cold climate like Alaska, plenty of south-facing windows will help elevate your mood and reduce heating bills.
5. Are East Facing Apartments Best?
An East-facing apartment means you get the sun in the morning, allowing natural wakening if your bedroom window faces the East.
Sunlight at dawn is an advantage if you like to be up early or have religious reasons for wanting to face East.
The disadvantage is that you have less natural light in the afternoon and evening as the sun progresses to the West.
You get some passive solar heating with an East-facing window but not as much as with South-facing windows.
Verdict: Wherever you live, East-facing apartments are best for people who like to rise with the sun and enjoy morning activities.
6. Are West Facing Apartments Best?
An apartment facing West means you benefit from natural sunlight in the afternoon and evening. Perfect if you want to enjoy an evening meal while watching the sunset.
If you work night shifts and need more sleep in the morning, then West facing apartment means the mornings are cooler and darker for longer.
The downside to a West-facing apartment is that you don’t gain any energy savings and have minimal natural light during most of the day. The upside is that your furniture and artworks suffer minimal damage compared to rooms in full sun all day.
Verdict: West-facing apartments suit people who need to sleep during the mornings.
7. Personality Type and Apartment Facing
SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder) impacts 10 million Americans, and a primary cause is a lack of sunlight during parts of the year.
Regardless of a specific depression type, increased natural light improves everyone’s mental and physical health.
If you know you suffer from depression and anxiety, then an apartment facing that maximizes your useable natural light will help manage your condition.
In a hot (northern) climate, this may mean that a North-facing apartment is still your best option because you can leave the blinds open and benefit from the light.
If you like to get up for morning Yoga or an early walk, then an East-facing apartment will help you rise with the larks.
Alternatively, if you want to relax in the evening with arts and crafts, a West-facing apartment gives you the maximum light at the end of the day.
If you are an artist who works at home, you know that North-facing is the best apartment facing to give you constant natural light. You don’t get direct glare bleaching your colors, and your color matching is better.
8. How to Tell Apartment Facing Direction?
Although your mobile phone has a compass app, you may prefer discretion about checking the apartment facing direction.
If you visit an apartment during the day, look for the sun out of the windows. If you can see the sun in the morning, that window faces East.
When locating an apartment, check the map – typically, the top of the (paper) map faces North, and you can work out the apartment facing with the map position.
Other visual clues to apartment facing involve:
- Satellite dishes – in the northern hemisphere, they generally point towards the south.
- Road layout – the US grid system means that avenues are typically aligned North-South, and streets are East-West. Sometimes the street name gives you a clue – East street, for example.
- Odd route numbers run North to South; even ones run East to West.
You can channel your inner backwoods tracker and look for signs of weathering from wind and sun, but regular maintenance will eliminate those clues in practice.
If you want certainty over an apartment facing, use a compass or a mobile phone app to see which direction the windows face.
Houses are low-rise buildings, but the tips on verifying a home’s facing direction may offer further assistance.
9. Does Stack Position Matter?
The amount of light and heat your apartment receives will depend on its stack position.
A balcony above its windows may shade a ground-floor apartment.
The presence of the balcony reduces the amount of light and heat entering through the windows and may remove all the benefits of a desirable facing direction.
An apartment with apartments below and above benefits from heat rising and the insulating effect of warm air spaces above. This feature is a benefit in a cold climate and an issue in a hot one.
Higher-level apartments may have a better view above neighboring homes but be more exposed to storms.
The position of your apartment in a block may enhance or diminish the impact of the facing direction.
10. What About Other Buildings?
In city centers, most apartments face brick walls.
When you look out onto a brick wall, you lose any real benefit of a desirable facing.
The closer you are to that other building, the more significant the impact on light levels and airflow available to your apartment.
11. Impact on Price
You can tell if the apartment facing is a factor in the price in an area if the relator’s description mentions it specifically.
Good light levels will sell a property and ensure it appeals to most buyers, and property in demand gets a higher sale price.
To find out the most desirable facing direction for an apartment in your area, read descriptions of sales properties to establish what direction gives maximum benefits.
12. What Can You Do About a Poor Apartment Facing Direction?
If your apartment facing direction means you don’t benefit from plenty of natural light, then you can:
- Use pale colors for your walls – it helps to reflect the available light.
- Add mirrors to reflect the light from the windows to the inside of the apartment.
- Install full-spectrum light bulbs (daylight bulbs) for the best indoor experience.
If the view from your apartment is bleak and depressing, then consider:
- Using blinds depicting natural scenes, you get the illusion of looking at nature when screening the window.
- Decorate with photographs of natural objects like trees and seascapes – research indicates these give you a similar boost to the real thing.
- Change your pictures to reflect the changing seasons.
- Add houseplants to your décor.
If your apartment gets too hot, install heat-reflecting screens on your windows and leave them down while you are at work to reflect the heat from the apartment.
If your apartment is too cold, you still need to cover the windows, but this time you reflect the heat into the apartment.
13. Aspect Is Not Everything – But It Matters
Although the apartment facing direction influences desirability and price, it is probably not the most significant factor in your decision to rent or buy.
It does have an impact on other considerations like:
- Affordability – a less desirable facing direction may reduce the rent or selling price.
- Energy efficiency – the amount spent on lighting, heating, and cooling varies with facing.
- Happiness – light and the view from the window can help or hinder your physical and mental wellbeing.
- Maintenance costs – sunlight bleaches fabrics, artwork, and furniture, meaning you may incur more replacement costs or need to invest more in blinds.
- Privacy – if your windows face other windows, you may live with permanent blinds, and the aspect won’t matter.
The most significant factors in buying or renting a factor are likely location, available space, and cost.
But you will be happier in your apartment if you enjoy excellent light levels and a view of nature, so it is worth considering which way your apartment faces before making the final decision.