Apartment hunting can be stressful, and living in an apartment isn't always a picnic either. From noisy neighbors to horrible landlords and tight spaces, things can get dicey. But with the right tricks up your sleeve, living in an apartment can be awesome. Here are ten ways to make that happen.
10. Find the Perfect Pad
The first step to better apartment living is, obviously to find a good apartment to begin with. It takes a little research, but with a bit of patience you should be able to find a nice apartment in the neighborhood you want. Check our five favorite apartment search tools to get started, and be sure to bring this checklist with you to ask the most important questions while you hunt.
9. Cultivate a Good Relationship with Your Landlord
When you're looking for an apartment, don't just look at the unit—pay close attention to the landlord too. Avoid future problems by getting everything in writing, documenting the condition of the apartment, and knowing your rights. Hopefully you won't have too many problems, but if something ever does go wrong, make sure you hold your landlord accountable.
8. Save on Rent (and Moving Costs)
Many landlords are willing to negotiate on price, as long as you aren't competing with a bunch of other tenants. Try negotiating on things like pet fees or parking spaces rather than the actual rent cost, which can be tricky. The easiest way to save money on rent, though? Move in the winter, rather than the summer, when there's less competition. In fact, data shows that mornings at the beginning or end of November is the best time to search.
7. Upgrade It (Temporarily)
One of the major downsides of apartment living is that you can't upgrade a lot of things that are older or not as nice as you'd like. You may not be able to redo the entire kitchen, but you can perform a lot of temporary upgrades (old school or high-tech) that will make things look a little nicer and work a little better. Plus, if you want to put in the work, try talking to your landlord—they might be okay with you making a bigger upgrade, especially it if ends up saving (or making) them money in the long run.
6. Ease Roommate Tension
If you're living with roommates, you have a whole new set of things to deal with. For example, you have to divide up all your expenses, and share a close quarters living space. The former can be easily managed with a service like Splitwise, and almost everything else just means you should have a conversation and set ground rules early on. Of course, if you just get stuck with a horrible roommate, there are ways to "evict" them, too.
5. Deal with Noisy Neighbors
When you live in a house, your neighbors are separated by...well, another house. When you live in an apartment, your neighbors are separated by what always appears to be paper-thin "walls." If your neighbor is prone to loud music, lovemaking, or dance dance revolution binges at 1am, you have options. Obviously you can have a conversation with them, but depending on the circumstances, it may pay to go to the management or send them more subtle messages. Of course, you could just fill out this complaint form and slip it under their door too. And if you don't have any noisy neighbors...make sure you're not the noisy neighbor.
4. Avoid the Dreaded Rent Increase
Just because you got a good deal on rent at the beginning doesn't mean you're in the clear. Landlords increase rent all the time, and if you aren't prepared, you'll end up paying more next year than you did this year. Luckily, it may be avoidable. First, make sure it's even legal for them to do so, and see if you can negotiate them down (much like you did with the initial rent). This form lettermay help you out, too.
3. Save on Energy Costs
Like upgrading your fixtures, some energy-saving measures are more difficult to pull off in an apartment, but you can still do a lot. For example, you can still install window shades, install a programmable thermostat, use energy efficient light bulbs, and more. In fact, most of our best energy-saving tips should be applicable to apartment living—just make sure you check with your landlord before you start tearing anything apart or sealing up doors and windows.
2. Make It Feel Like Home
You may not be able to repaint your apartment, install new carpet, or make any other permanent changes, you can still customize it and make it feel like home. Use photos and frames creatively to keep the walls from looking too bare, and add a large rug or other floor covering to switch things up. Stick to good design principles and a little can go a long way, at least until it's time to buy your own place.
1. Use Your Space Wisely
You hear it all the time, but the most useful apartment tips we encounter always have to do with saving space. It makes sense, since apartments can be pretty tight fits—especially if you're renting in a big city. You can save a lot of space with cheap household products, though—like command hooks, bed risers, and over-the-door storage racks. Just remember: use your vertical space when you don't have horizontal space, especially where it's easily out of sight.