After “location, location, location,” when buying your apartment you want to consider what kind of exposure the apartment has — north, south, east, or west. The exposure — and number of windows with that exposure — will determine the amount of light and heat in your apartment, which affects how comfortable you will be there. Too little light can make you feel depressed or down. Too many windows with the wrong exposure can make for a very cold or very hot apartment. Each person has his own preference in these areas.
Today, buildings are built much better, with better insulation, heating and air-conditioning, underfloor heating, and double-glazed windows all contributing to a much more comfortable home. Since your apartment will likely have windows and patios facing one or more of these four directions, it’s important to know the pros and cons of each one of them.
In most areas of Israel, west is a very popular exposure because of the wind coming from the Mediterranean Sea, which counterbalances the heat. In Jerusalem, however, and other cities at high altitude, a western exposure becomes something less desirable. In the winter, there are very strong winds that cause the rain to pound against the western (mainly) walls of buildings. This make the apartment very cold and can cause enough dampness in the walls to create mold on the inside walls.
In the summer, the radiation of the sun in the afternoon makes the apartment very hot. Of course, if your apartment is located on a hill, and high enough up, you could have the best breeze possible with a western exposure — and you’ll get to enjoy breathtaking sunset views.
An eastern exposure is also very desirable because it enables you to see the sunrise and enjoy the morning sun, which is still not too hot, while avoiding the afternoon sun heating up the apartment. If you have some windows facing west as well, you can beneift from the westerly winds that give a nice cross-breeze in the apartment. How lovely to enjoy a light and airy morning and have cooler afternoons, perhaps with a nice breeze too.
A southern exposure gives you the best of all worlds. It is a very desirable exposure because most of the day you have sunlight, but it is not direct sunlight as in western and eastern exposures. In the summer, the there is ample light shining in through the windows most of the day. So you have a nice, bright apartment without the heat effect of the sun that you have with western exposures. Even in the winter you will enjoy the benefits of the sunlight and require less heating, as well. As an added benefit, because a southern exposure means less direct sunlight, you may not even need air-conditioning since the apartment stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
A northern exposure is very neutral. With a northern exposure, you will not benefit from (or suffer from!) breezes and sunlight, but you could have a stunning mountain view that you won’t get with other exposures. The apartment may be colder and darker in the winter, but in the summer the apartment will stay cooler. An apartment with northern exposure may have more mold in the cold winter months than in apartments with other exposures since it’s less airy and therefore the dampness doesn’t have the opportunity to dry out. It’s more important in such an apartment to keep windows open in the winter to provide the air necessary to minimize mold. In the summer, with a northern exposure, you’ll save on air conditioning costs because the apartment is naturally cooler.
Shia Getter is the CEO of the Shia Getter Group, a full-range real estate services firm in Jerusalem catering to the Anglo-Charedi Community. He is a noted expert, columnist, and author of Everything You Need to Know about Buying Real Estate in Israel (Feldheim 2014). He and his professional team are Israel’s one and only true seller’s and buyer’s brokerage. They provide a unique service by managing and maintaining your apartment and being completely responsible for the entire buying or selling process.
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