Not urgent, but on my mind: best floor of a 2-story apartment complex in relation to safety?

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Hello! I am working on a project so this will be brief, but I couldn't concentrate with this issue in my mind. Even though I can't move out yet. But I thought, most of you have more experience than me and could help me out with this.

Why I didn't put this topic in "social": I have really weird triggers. I am afraid of getting eaten by a tornado, which is much less weird, but also I am afraid of flooding. Particularly flooding related to dirty water, which to my OCD brains also includes broken pipes and anything coming from a bathroom (especially the toilet). And also I'm afraid of someone breaking in and assaulting me in some way.

I would prefer to live in a rented house, so I can have a yard of my own. However, I'm not shunning apartments and may even benefit from starting with an apartment. They're kind of like dorms, after all, so I would feel more comfortable probably. And maybe have access to neat things like very-close-neighbors and pools and gyms or whatever. (But those aren't guarenteed.)

Anyway, if I had to pick a first floor or second floor in a two-floor complex, which option would be safer? (I don't believe there are three-floor complexes near me.)

What I'm worried about:

In a second floor apartment, I wouldn't have to worry about neighbors above me, which would be nice. Also, being on the second floor makes it a little harder for someone to break in, or even see into my apartment from the windows. Flooding would be much less of an issue too. If my toilet or a pipe broke and flooded, it would more than likely effect the neighbors below me rather than me. (I'm ignoring roof issues for this discussion.) Since I'd be at a higher elevation, an overflowed pipe would not backup into my apartment, but instead would back up into lower elevation apartments (which happened to me in a dorm room twice). In the summer and winter I would be warmer. (I prefer it cool.) However, in the event of a tornado warning, I would have nowhere to go. No apartments in my area are required to build tornado shelters. And so none have them.

So, that would make me want to have a first-floor apartment so that I would be better able to hide in the event of a tornado warning, and be able to be in control of getting somewhere safe without having to rely on others. (I wouldn't mind letting people in to huddle with me all night either.) I also won't have to carry my service dog up and down stairs on her bad knee days. My back (and my dog's dignity -- she HATES being carried) would like that. However, people would potentially be able to see into my apartment. No biggie, especially since once I move out of this hoarded house I won't have to hide the view from the outside world anymore. But I am so worried that in the night, someone will peak in and then break in. Apartment windows are notoriously flimsy around here. And I would be exposed to the possibility of a trigger relating to messed up pipes or flooding, which gravity would make more of a problem on the bottom floor. At my university, this was a major problem any time I was on the first (not not top) floors, except in one building. (I can't give information about the construction of the building because it is a historically significant building in the area, but I can say that it was built in 1887.)

Can someone provide feedback about my rational, and tell me if you would prefer a first floor or a second floor in a two-story complex based on these choices?

I'm going to try to locate reasonably priced house rentals, or an apartment complex that is only one floor. But I can't assume what my choices will be when I'm ready to move out, so I thought I would try to prepare now. If only so I can get my mind to focus on my project that's due at midnight tomorrow.

Tornado season always gets me overly worried about housing and how to be safe.


The flooding sounds like a persistent problem in your area, which can happen 365 days a year... but for $50 a month in renters insurance you could stay at a hotel for free & have all your damaged things replaced. Unlike in dorms, where you’re pretty much just SOL.

Tornados are a much more seasonal issue, and I would think that you could probably find somewhere to volunteer, work part time, or spend time hobby-wise at that does have tornado shelters (hospital, library, community center, hardware store, etc.) so that when a warning hits you can simply head to the same place you’re already at X times a week, are well known, and welcomed.

So I would ask myself...

Which stressor is going to be worse for you?
- The daily threat of flood?
- The seasonal threat of tornado?

Which work arounds are going to be more settling?
- Insurance to take care of any flood damage (to personal property) & hotel bills?
- Safe place(s) to arrange in advance to be if/when a warning comes?


Flooding is a bitch of a thing to deal with afterwards. So, if that’s a common problem in your area, steer clear of the ground floor.

But if flooding isn’t common in your area, and it’s just something you worry about excessively? Put some thought into the issue with your knees. Being up a flight of stairs can easily exacerbate existing conditions, so that a minor knee problem can become a major knee problem pretty quick.

Not all flights of stairs are made equally though. Around my area, older places tend to have lower risers, which makes a surprisingly big difference on the way up. If you have bad knees - a single flight of stairs with high risers and no mid-point halfway up? That’s gonna become hell real quick.

For me, it would take a lot of convincing to put me on the ground floor. I don’t live in a particularly safe area, and the primary threat to my home security is typically people who are intoxicated (in some form). Being a level up means I get much less disturbance from that crowd. You can still break in to my place, but you’d have to be pretty committed to try, and so far that issue has been mostly restricted to the tenants on the ground floor.


I'm a second floor girl -- would have to think twice about living on the first floor. But you have some big cost/benefits for both so think about what your day will look like from start to finish for 1st floor and 2nd floor. Maybe that will help?


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From what you describe, you have 3 possible stressors:
- flooding
- tornados
- peeking/breaking in.

In that order the preference would be:
- 2nd floor
- 1st floor
- 2nd floor.

That's 2 to 1. I don't know if one floor really makes a difference in reality during a tornado (I've never lived in a tornado-prone area) and you could get somewhere with shelters during tornado season. Your service dog is something to keep in mind, but your personal feeling should come first and there probably would be options to work around that, if necessary.

I personally would choose the 2nd floor over the 1st without thinking (though I do prefer a house over an apartment, too), but that's really a personal choice and because of my very own history, so it's hard to make recommendations based on that.

Edit: Is your service dog trained to alarm against intruders?


I would pick the 2nd floor myself, but mainly for the security of knowing that I'm not on the ground level, so it's a lot harder for someone to break in or peek in my windows.

When I had an apartment to myself, I lived on the 2nd floor. High up enough for people to have a really hard time getting up, low enough for me to jump down to the lawn below unharmed - so it served as an escape route. Back then I didn't have PTSD, but now I would definitely want a similar arrangement.

In regards to natural disasters - I totally understand wanting to live in a place that feels more secure from them. Here, earthquakes are the only natural disaster I'm worried about. We also get tsunami alerts from nearby earthquakes, but the geography of the inlet makes it very hard for us to have a tsunami. There really isn't anywhere that I feel safe during an earthquake - even in an open area you wonder if the ground will collapse beneath you, etc. Even inside a safer area of a building, or even standing in the open outside, I don't feel safe during strong earthquakes. My flight response kicks in hard, and autopilot makes me want to run outside. But, aside from -while- an earthquake is happening, I feel safer from them in buildings I know can probably withstand really powerful earthquakes (which honestly, is most buildings here)

About windows on ground floors though:

Currently I'm on the bottom floor of the house I live in - my window is at ground level, so like half the floor is below ground.

I don't feel very secure about that, and have my window totally blacked out with curtains and a sheet behind the curtains. I feel a lot safer when nobody can see inside the windows.

I have my pistol in my room, and I know right where it is, and I keep it with a loaded magazine. It's right next to my bed, in a drawer, in its hobo-purse holster. It's nice to know it's right there if there's an intruder or something.
I live on the third floor (the top floor) of my complex. It is quieter, for sure. I love that.

My windows look directly into the windows of my neighbor's house, however .... they have three floors too. So privacy is still an issue. But, an easy and simple solution is curtains. Translucent during the day, opaque at night. So, just as an option, if you are worried about people peeking in, curtains might be a really easy solution.

I also feel safer on the third floor, but I think it is probably somewhat of a superstitious illusion. I know that my anxiety prevented me from even considering a garden-level or first floor apartment. But I would have done a second floor unit.

The top floor also means that my place gets a whole lot of light, which is really helpful for my depression. Light was actually the most important aspect for me in choosing a place - I can imagine myself getting really, really sad in a dark, garden-level place.
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