Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Miguel Suro, for www.therichmiser.com, and has since been updated.
Renting an apartment is one of those things that can be much harder than it looks. While it may seem like it’s just a matter of finding a place you like, signing a lease, and moving in, it turns out that there are a lot of factors to consider beyond the unit itself. That’s because you’ll find all kinds of buildings with many different amenities which can, at best, make your rental experience easy and pleasant. At worst, however, an ill-equipped building can create a lot of unnecessary hassles for you, or even be dangerous.
So how do you know what will make your rental days easy and stress-free? A good start will be this list, where you can find apartment amenities to watch for in a rental building. Let’s take a look!
Community apartment amenities
Having a gym steps away from your door makes working out a lot easier. You don’t have to waste time driving and parking, and don’t have to deal with rain or snow. Also, there are no membership fees, and you can take your post-workout shower in your apartment since it’s no more than an elevator ride away.
Another benefit is that, if you’re inclined to talk to people at the gym, you can find like-minded neighbors there and make friends. This can be one of the best ways to expand your social circle in a new city.
Some people never use pools, while others love them, whether they prefer to go in the pool or sunbathe around it (if it’s outdoors). Ask yourself if you’ll really take advantage of a pool, or whether it’ll be something you may use the week after you move in and then never again.
A courtyard can be a great feature for those of us that like to relax and take in some fresh air every now and then. It’s an indispensable amenity for those with pets and kids. Stroll around, meditate, people-watch, have a picnic, walk the dog; the possibilities are endless..
Some rental buildings will have communal party areas that you can book for your social events. I’ve seen them feature grills, refrigerators, and even hot tubs! So look for a building with one of these where you can throw your next bash, and save yourself the grief of having your best friend spill red wine on your new couch.
Nearby grocery store
I used to live in an apartment complex that had a supermarket within a ground-floor commercial area. These are incredibly useful, especially if you don’t have a car. If you can get your groceries downstairs in a matter of minutes, not only can you buy fresh food several times a week, but also skip the hassle of lugging around heavy bags.
This one can be hugely important. If you throw a party, rest assured that any guests that are driving to your place will ask you where to park. A lot of people won’t be too happy if that’s going to be on the street or in an expensive nearby lot.
This is why abundant guest parking (especially if it’s free) will be something your friends will greatly appreciate. Most people don’t like to walk more than a block or so to their cars, especially at night.
Any residence will have folks moving in and out, and receiving furniture deliveries. Some buildings have special loading docks or areas that facilitate this since it won’t be necessary to do a lot of coordination beforehand; the trucks arrive and are unloaded with speed and ease.
On the other hand, there are buildings that lack this, and delivery trucks must use street parking. That can be a real headache since you might have to reserve parking spaces from the city several days before. I lived in a place where you had to do this and then go to the police station to pick up paper bags to place over the meters so that people would know not to park there. An expensive hassle, to say the least.
Outside storage space
When you’re touring your potential apartment, ask if there’s outside storage space. Sometimes, the parking garage will have small, individual storage spaces that you can put a padlock on. This can help you avoid the inconvenience and expense of commercial storage, and make it easy to store things that you don’t necessarily want inside your apartment, like bicycles.
Large, all-rental buildings will usually have on-site staff, including administrators and repairmen. They can be a lifesaver whenever something breaks down in your apartment or you need a favor. Having someone that can come up and fix something right away will streamline your life, as compared to having to call and coordinate with an outside repair person.
A door person can be critical to a happy rental experience. They can not only hold packages for you, but also ensure the safety of your lobby. You’ll especially appreciate them when you get home after a long night of fun and don’t have to face a desolate lobby at 3:00 am!
Plenty of working elevators
In older buildings especially, you can run into issues with insufficient or decrepit elevators that are always breaking down. I can tell you from personal experience that your quality of life is absolutely affected by living on a high floor in a building with inadequate elevator coverage. Picture yourself descending every morning in an elevator that stops on five or six floors, becoming more and more crowded (and smelly) each time. Ugh, not a great way to start your day!
An accessible freight elevator
Practically every building has a freight elevator, but not every building has one that’s easy to access. This might not be a huge deal since you won’t be using it every day, but it’s certainly nice to not have to walk for hundreds of steps every time you need to carry heavy stuff.
Trash removal and recycling
You need both. I used to live in a building that had a super-convenient trash chute, but recycling was a pain. You had to take two different elevators down to a big trash and recycling area full of smelly dumpsters teeming with flies. The result of all of this unpleasantness was that empty boxes kept piling up in my apartment, until I finally couldn’t take it anymore and made the trek down to the recycling area. Far from ideal.
Secured parking garage
It sometimes happens that trespassers enter residential parking garages, looking for easy victims. That’s why an unsecured parking garage can be a big vulnerability, even if the lobby has bank-grade security. So look for garages that are protected by large gates and conspicuous cameras, rather than small car barriers that people can easily bypass.
Easy package delivery
Nowadays a lot of us order stuff online every week, especially after moving to a new place. So you’ll definitely need an easy way to receive packages, even when you’re not at home. Some buildings will let deliverymen into the halls so that they can leave boxes in front of apartment doors. Others will hold stuff for you in the lobby. Yet others (especially if they have no staff present during the day) might make it very difficult for you to receive packages.
In any case, be sure to find out how it works at the place you’re considering before you sign that lease contract.
Business center or conference room
Some people make use of a business center or conference room, while others don’t. It can be especially appealing if you work from home and want a free place to take occasional meetings or just to change up your work environment from time to time.
Free Wifi in common areas
Like the business center, this is important to some people and unimportant to others. If it matters to you, make sure to check if the building you’re considering has it.
Frequent social events
Some buildings, especially those that are all-rental, try to build a sense of community and the administrators schedule frequent social events. For instance, there might be a monthly meet-and-greet somewhere in the common areas. If you’re new to the city or outgoing and want an easy source of friends, this might be a big benefit.
Shared shopping cart
In some building parking lots, you’ll find large shopping carts like those provided at supermarkets and big-box stores. These can be a huge help since you can arrive with your packages or groceries in your car trunk and then borrow the cart to unload and transport your stuff to your apartment. It’s not a perfect system because there will always be some people who delay in returning the cart to the storage location, but it’s still a great convenience to have.
Pet-friendly apartment amenities
If you find an apartment with a dog park, you’ve officially hit the gold mind of pet-friendly renting. Imagine walking downstairs and letting your pooch run free and socialize with the other pups. It’s a great way for you to meet your neighbors, too.
Pet washing station
Your pet can have fun outdoors year-round if there’s a pet washing station available. Plus, you can keep the dirt and grim out of your apartment.
A pet-friendly spice is vital if you’re a pet owner. Be sure and find out if an apartment you’re considering has breed or size restrictions before signing a lease. You can also find plenty of pet-friendly rentals on our platform.
In-unit apartment amenities
Yes, carpets are nice and soft. The problem is that they get dirty, particularly if you spill liquid on them. So, avoid carpet cleaning fees and look for a place with hard floors inside the apartments.
You could wash dishes by hand, but an energy-efficient dishwasher uses much less water and will save you time. Go green and find a place with a dishwasher.
Easy rent payments
Paying rent online is easier and more secure, and will reduce the chances of forgetting to pay on time.
Not having to haul loads of laundry to a laundromat down the street or downstairs is a feeling akin to pure bliss. However, having in-unit laundry means there’s less of an excuse to avoid laundry day.
If you live in warmer climates, chances are your apartment already has A/C. But for those in cooler climates, it’s nice being able to crank down the air during unseasonably warm days.
High-speed internet access
Internet and cable may already be included in the rent, which is great if it’s high speed. If you’re taking a tour, ask about the internet access and how reliable it is. This is especially important if you work from home.
Short-term rental amenities
If you’re searching for a short-term rental, chances are it’s already furnished. But don’t skip the amenities list before booking, it can mean the difference between a pleasant or painful short-term stay. Here are the basics to look for:
- Dinnerware and cooking ware
- Small appliances like a toaster, microwave, or blender
- Kitchen towels
- Hair dryer
- Iron and ironing board (bonus points for a steamer)
- Luggage rack or storage
- Sheets and bedding
- Extra blankets
- Laundry detergent if there’s in-unit laundry
- Cleaning cloths
- Smart locks
- Streaming services like Netflix, HBO, and more
- USB outlets for easy charging
- Security cameras
Summing it up
It would be very rare indeed to find a building that has all of these apartment amenities, and some might not be crucial to you. However, it’s good to have those that are important to you in mind, so that you can look for them before you sign a lease. Since you’ll probably need to prioritize, one way to do so might be to make a list of needs and wants, making sure a place has all of your “needs” before you seriously consider it. Here’s to a great rental experience!