I'm not looking for one or the other because that is subjective instead what are the good points and bad points of each?

e.g. Overground are easier to see. Underground had less access for mobs to get inside.

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    I think this is subjective even stated this way. Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 15:07
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    Because any advantage either had can be extended to the other through appropriate building. Above-ground bases can be made just as impervious to mobs and below-ground bases can be made just as visible. It's just a matter of preference. Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 15:12
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    I agree with @StrixVaria - the kind of base doesn't determine how well it keeps mobs out; the construction of it does. Plus, if you want an aboveground base that mobs can't get into, try a base with walls, a roof, and a door for you to use. :)
    – Kevin Yap
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 15:19
  • 1
    @Kevin I meant creapers as they can explode though walls and skeletons as if you want a roof for whatever reason they can shoot at you but I see your point. Are you sure there are non specific to one kind?
    – Ronan
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 15:34
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    @Ron That's no longer true. Build a hut with 1-block-thick walls, put some windows in, wait for nightfall, and have a staring contest with the creepers that will come peer in the windows without exploding. Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 23:53

11 Answers 11


I've only been playing Minecraft for about a month now, but for offline play, I find that it is best to make a "home" that is both above and below ground.

Start out by creating an above ground fortress in a place close to your spawn point. I created a log cabin, which slowly became bigger and bigger. I found that once I had the basic house complete, it was beneficial to spend the night hours digging deeper and deeper into the ground (of course leaving torches everywhere!). Not only does this give you something to do while it's dark out, but it also gives your fortress plenty of places to hide and block off incoming threats.

I assume online if your home is taken over by griefers, you can block off part of it and hide within your underground area.

Remember that all dark areas can spawn enemies, so torches are a must. Collect wood in the day to create sticks and you will get plenty of coal by digging into the ground. Always carry a weapon with you, because you can dig a block out that has an underground DARK cavern with plenty of spiders and zombies in it. In this case be ready to fight, or block it back up quickly before you're killed with arrows!

If you feel it necessary, build a huge "antennae" on the roof of your complex and put torches on it. If you die, or get lost, this should help you get back!

That might be a lot of information that everyone knows already, but I hope I helped.

  • 9
    Logs may be cool looking but take fire and aren't very creeper proof. Consider stone instead. :)
    – badp
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 22:40
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    I am doing excatly the same. Nice nice idea the antenna of torches
    – Drake
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 0:25
  • Once you get enough resources for the compass, you don't really need to give away your location with a giant torch, but it still helps.
    – user6841
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 7:08
  • To find my base I use Rei's Minimap Mod and put down a waypoint. If that mod isn't available for some reason, I usually just press F3 for debug info and write down the coordinates manually on a piece of paper.
    – Svish
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 5:45

If you construct proper doors and walls, and keep all light in your base at least an "8", there is no difference between aboveground and belowground.

For a while, post halloween update, mobs spawned at higher light levels at lower depths. Now that this is no longer the case, the vertical position of your little slice of Minecraft heaven doesn't matter.

  • Mobs don't spawn on slabs or in water, so you don't have to have everywhere lit. This is pretty useful if you want a mushroom farm or something and need to keep it dark in some areas.
    – mopsyd
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 6:20

I personally prefer a 3-tiered base: underground, on ground, and a third floating tier. Most important things can be done in any tier, but combining the three gives redundancy and a variety of unique advantages. Of course, there are techniques for mitigating many of the cons of each tier, as well.

(I should note, this is only taking single-player into account.)

A rough, inexhaustive overview of each tier's pros/cons:



  • Easy to expand
  • Rare materials are more accessible
  • Not prone to catching fire


  • Expansion dangers, such as mobs and lava
  • Staple materials (such as wood) have to be brought down by hand, at least at first

-On Ground-


  • Easy access to many staple materials (food, wood)
  • Simple to expand


  • Exposed to the elements and mobs
  • Most easily damaged by Creepers



  • Largely immune to mob damage
  • Great views


  • Most complicated to build
  • Most prone to lightning strikes

Underground bases make it easier to hide your chests of goodies and the base itself from griefers.

This is a huge advantage on servers with a high incidents of griefers/theives.

Don't tell anyone, but the ladder down to my base is hidden under a patch of cactus. =)

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    This isn't so much a difference between underground v. aboveground as much as it is hidden vs. unhidden. Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 21:03
  • It's hard to build a hidden overground base though. Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 22:08
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    Sadly there are certain texture packs which destroy that use..
    – Macha
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 22:42

I guess I'm unusually mole-like. I generally only stay above ground long enough to knock down a few trees, and build a crafting table. Then I carve a me-sized hole in a nearby rock face, and disappear underground.

When I emerge, clad in mighty armor, wielding a glittering diamond sword, I do so to build a cloud scraping monument over my vast subterranean empire.

Once, I actually found myself hollowing out a tree farm in the midst of a handy lava-flow, and planting a few saplings that I'd snagged on my first brief sojourn on the surface, rather than walking all the way back up the stairs to knock down a few more trees. To be fair, I hadn't marked the stairs well, so I wasn't wholly sure where they were.

The only thing that's really hard to get underground is food. Mushrooms aren't nearly as effective as porkchops.

  • 1
    And food is easy once you've gathered even one unit of seeds to start a wheat farm. Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 23:57

I recommend underground houses. They're easy to build, leaving you with more time to gather supplies. Underground shelter is fast, easy, and can be built/expanded with bare hands and little/no resources.


I like to build bases partially underwater, and use signposts and jack 'o' lanterns to mark air pockets, or make roadways out of either doors or signs underwater. Nothing spawns pretty much at all underwater because it is technically getting direct sunlight, you have easy access to the surface and subterranean levels, nothing you build is going to burn up, and you can find clay (and hence brick) in abundance. Fishing can be done out your window for food, just use a couple signs to make an open window and you can cast a line out your living room window whenever you're hungry. You can also use boats as elevators to the surface and explore quickly, and long drops into water don't hurt you.

There's good reasons to do both though either way. I think online the problems with griefers outweigh any kind of advantage of an above ground base, but in single player above ground bases are pretty easily manageable. Below ground gives you access to any number of valuable things usually pretty easily, however organic stuff can be harder to get without a bunch of extra effort. Overall I'd say an above ground base will get you up and going the fastest, but is also the most vulnerable to problems both with other players and with mobs.


above ground i find can be usefull if you want to have a quick time setting up and fairley sustainable and easy to get wood ect.

but if you build a underground base if you want to live there for ever it can take a while to set up like building a tree farm and a food supply but it can prove to pay off and digging around you can help find ores. but a underground base takes more time to get perfect


The thing is you should make you main base underground.Then you can create a small hut like structure to mark the entrance.You should also construct a watchtower so that if you get lost the small house will not be easy to spot but you can always spot the watchtower. Underground house reduces interaction with mobs.But make sure you have enough torches to live underground.


I usually start with one base at ground level. Then, when I have more resources I build underground and add more levels to my house.

  • 5
    Hey retalee, welcome to the site. Ronan was asking for points about the benefits of each, rather than personal experiences. Can you expand your answer with your reasoning for doing this?
    – Mana
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 14:35

I always used to build solely above ground, just because it's easier to show off and always felt like the only option for me. Now, however, I realise the potential building underground is. My best suggestion would be to snag a bunch of pork chops or steak, along with some wood and saplings, then go down into a big cavern/mountain and let loose. I'm a inner at heart so underground is my best choice.

  • 1
    This doesn't really answer the original question of "what are the good and bad points of each".
    – Steve V.
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 4:15

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