In some cities, like New York, doormen have been a long-standing staple that apartment hunters come to expect. There's just something about the presence of a doorman that can add a degree of comfort. You walk into your building and are met with a friendly face who recognizes you and is there to help you as needed.
That said, there is one downside to living in a doorman building: You'll pay a premium for it. The exact upcharge is hard to narrow down, the reason being that luxury buildings often come with a doorman, and, as such, it's hard to know what percentage of that premium goes toward your building's gym versus its pool versus the person who's there to greet you when you walk in.
A 2006 study found that doorman buildings cost 12% more, on average, than non-doorman buildings in New York City. But that's just one study of one locale completed nearly 15 years ago. Still, expect to pay quite a bit more for a doorman building than one without a doorman.
With that in mind: Is a doorman worth it?
The upside of having a doorman
A doorman is more than just a friendly face. A doorman provides an added layer of security, and if you live alone and tend to come and go at all hours of the night, that's a definite perk.
A doorman can also assist you in other ways. Some will collect packages on your behalf so they don't sit unattended outside your mailbox or doorway for others to potentially steal. Your doorman might also be the person who lets your dog-walker in when you're out at work for the day. And in some cases, your doorman may even be able to help you lug heavy packages back to your apartment (depending on the size of your building and the rules your doorman must follow).
The question you'll, therefore, need to ask yourself is: How much are those benefits worth? Imagine you're looking at two comparable apartments, square footage wise, in the same neighborhood. One has a doorman and costs $2,250 a month. The non-doorman option costs $2,000 a month. Is $3,000 a year worth those conveniences, or can you do without them and save your money? The same calculations can be run if you're buying your apartment -- it boils down to whether the extra money is worth it to you.
Another thing to consider is that even a well-intentioned doorman could end up being intrusive. With a doorman, you're pretty much obligated to wave hello and goodbye when you come and go, and if you're the type who prefers to keep to him or herself, that built-in small talk may not be something you're interested in. And you'll give up some amount of privacy since your doorman will be there to see who's visiting you and when.
But assuming you're not worried about all of those things, your decision should really boil down to your comfort. If you feel having a doorman will give you peace of mind and make your life easier, it could be worth paying for one. If not, there's surely lots you can do with the money you save by giving up the luxury.