It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and excitement of renting an apartment when moving into something larger can be such a relief — but don’t let yourself fall victim to buyer’s remorse!
Before making any big decisions, take some time to think through what kind of living situation works well for you right now. Here are our top tips on how to make sure you find exactly what you’re looking for while also finding happiness along the way.
1. Do your research
Look at apartments online and talk to people who live there before committing to anything. If you have friends or family members in similar situations, ask them if they’d recommend anyone specific as a landlord. You’ll likely receive different opinions depending on where you look (and who you ask), so weigh your options carefully.
Research neighborhoods too, because even though an area may seem nice based on pictures alone, you should consider things like crime rate, commute times, average rent prices and other factors when choosing an apartment. While you probably won’t love everything about your neighborhood, if you can change one thing about it, do it.
Also try looking outside your city altogether — maybe you’d prefer to move near family instead of commuting hours each day? Or would you rather go further away from your job than stay closer to work? There are plenty of websites out there which will help you search by location, budget and more. And if you decide to see houses/villas first, check out these helpful resources for those types of rentals.
2. Don’t worry about the size of your home
You might be worried that having less square footage means you’ll end up missing out on certain amenities, but that isn’t necessarily true. Sure, smaller spaces tend to cost less per month, but remember you could always negotiate higher rents just by asking. Also, sometimes bigger doesn’t mean better. For example, many New Yorkers actually prefer their tiny studio-style apartments over much larger ones simply due to the fact that they feel safer and cozier. So don’t automatically assume “smaller” equals “cheaper.”
If you really wish you had extra room in your current rental, you can always buy furniture later on once you’ve settled into your new digs. It’s not ideal, but at least it’s possible.
3. Make it your own
While it’s tempting to settle for whatever comes available, you shouldn’t forget that you’re buying an apartment, not a store display. Don’t get stuck feeling trapped by someone else’s choices — choose colors, patterns, fixtures, appliances and furnishings that reflect your tastes and preferences. This helps build your sense of style and comfort without being overly trendy or expensive.
Here are some quick ways to add personality to your pad:
Use paint to create moods. The most common choice here is cool blues, greens or purples, but red has become increasingly popular lately, especially among young adults. To maximize impact, apply two coats of color to give walls enough time to set properly.
Choose unique floor coverings. Carpeted hardwood floors were very popular back in the ’90s, but today we know that patterned linoleum looks great too. Wood tiles, cork, bamboo, stone, brick and tile accents are good alternatives. Just pick whichever material feels most comfortable underfoot.
Add plants. They bring life and texture to otherwise sterile interiors, plus they absorb toxic chemicals found in carpeting, paints and cleaning agents. Plus, they soften sunlight and keep rooms cooler during summer months.
Don’t hesitate to experiment with materials and designs until you find something you truly love.
4. Give your place a personality
Paint is key here. Choose bright and bold hues that complement your lifestyle and personal style. Colors convey messages about who you are and what you value, so use this power wisely. Avoid pastels unless you plan on staying forever — they often feel bland and boring after awhile. Similarly, neutrals aren’t ideal either since they lack character. Colorful accessories and decorative objects can turn drab corners into focal points, so spend money on quality pieces that speak to you. A little bit of effort goes a long way toward sprucing up your pad.
Furnishings play another role in defining your style and vibe. Keep in mind that you’re sharing part of your home with others, so opt for items that blend practicality and aesthetics. For instance, avoid oversized furniture like futons and sectionals unless you’re OK with guests sleeping on your bed every night. Stick to medium sized side tables, lamps and ottomans. Furniture that matches finishes is usually easier to mix and match, and makes your space appear cohesive. Lastly, don’t overlook lighting. Proper illumination adds warmth and depth to your space. When picking bulbs, choose styles that mimic real world conditions — soft gentle lights evoke feelings of relaxation without straining your eyes.
5. Think about what you want to do with all that space
Whether you’re single or married, chances are you share household chores and responsibilities with someone else. If you’re going to be working remotely, be prepared to delegate duties accordingly. Otherwise, divvy up areas of responsibility between roommates to ensure everyone gets ample opportunity to rest and relax.
For couples, splitting bedrooms down the middle isn’t always ideal. Try dividing open spaces evenly instead. Consider using small couches and chairs around kitchen islands for additional seating. That way nobody has to stand against a wall constantly. Small touches like these can increase productivity and improve overall enjoyment.
6. Get rid of clutter
Clutter takes up valuable physical and mental energy. Even if you enjoy collecting knickknacks, you need to prioritize what stays and what goes. Be ruthless with sentimental keepsakes and breakables. Throw away old mail, newspapers and magazines. Decluttering frees up space, allowing you to focus more attention on what matters.
And speaking of keeping track of things…donate papers, recycle glass bottles, hang clothes straighteners and dryers, empty trash cans regularly and organize drawers, closets and shelves. Use boxes, bins and baskets for piles of paperwork. You’ll be amazed at how easily disorganized belongings disappear when put in order.
7. Go for green
When thinking about sustainable design, think beyond building codes. Energy efficient appliances, high efficiency heating systems, solar panels and rainwater collection systems are examples of investments worth considering. Green features are becoming more commonplace nowadays, so you don’t need to spring for a whole house full of eco-friendly upgrades to impress your neighbors. However, if you still haven’t convinced yourself to switch to LEDs, start small. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or LED equivalents. Install motion sensors on exterior doors. Start composting food scraps. Buy locally produced foods whenever possible. Recycle paper, plastic and cardboard. Plant native grasses. These changes require minimal investment yet go a long way toward protecting the environment.
8. Take advantage of natural light
The sun shines pretty consistently throughout the year in North America, so no matter when you wake up, you’ll experience natural daylight somewhere in your daily routine. But did you ever stop to wonder why? Sunshine provides us with vitamin D, regulates circadian rhythms and aids in cell growth. In addition, it reduces stress levels and improves mood. Now that you understand its importance, don’t squander precious moments indoors. Open curtains or shades to catch the brightest rays. Enjoy outdoor dining, exercise outdoors and walk early morning routes. Investing in smart window treatments and blinds gives you control over privacy and allows you to adjust brightness settings.
9. Have fun with decoration
Decorating can be stressful, but luckily it doesn’t have to be. Experimentation is encouraged and failure is expected. After all, you only live in this dwelling temporarily. Paint, rearrange furniture, swap out throw pillows and replace cabinets with organizers are all simple ways to breathe fresh air into your abode.
But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Plan your decorations strategically so they don’t clash with existing elements. Organize your home according to function. Separate eating utensils from dishes and glasses from pots. Arrange flatware in bowls, mugs and tumblers. Stack bookshelves neatly. Group electronics together. Hang framed prints in harmony. Your goal is to streamline your possessions so you can navigate your space efficiently. Less stuff = more freedom.
10. Remember, this is temporary
Your apartment is yours and yours alone. As soon as you leave, you’ll never have access to it again. What happens next depends entirely upon your future plans. Will you move elsewhere? Stay local? Return to the same neighborhood? Decisions made earlier this year might affect your housing needs five years from now. If you’re planning to stick close to home, then you mustn’t underestimate the appeal of condo living. With condos, you typically pay monthly fees regardless of whether you occupy the unit or not. That said, there are thousands of reasons to explore other places. Sometimes it’s better to step out of your comfort zone and discover new experiences.
Whatever you ultimately decide, remember that you’re lucky to have a roof over your head. Appreciate it.