If you’re looking for a used car, Craigslist will probably serve you well. A secondhand scooter? Sure. A third-rate jailbroken iPhone? A virtual guarantee.
But what about finding a new apartment? This is where things get complicated.
It’s important to avoid getting stuck in “Craigslist mode” when looking for an apartment because there’s a lot more to the process than simply assessing the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage. Remember, you’re trying to find your next home.
If you make a rental decision based on numbers and figures, you could be missing out on the charm and coziness that will define your living experience. Your ideal apartment could be well within reach. You just need to pay attention to the right things.
Here are some features to consider when selecting your new space that you won’t find in the standard Craigslist posting:
- Layout: An apartment’s room flow and setup should have a significant bearing on your search. It can influence everything from how your furniture fits to how you’ll entertain guests. These are key quality-of-life needs that simply can’t be determined by learning the number of bathrooms. When viewing a new apartment, visualize how your furniture, wall hangings, and other items will work in the space provided. (Also, take note of closets and storage options for items that won’t!)
- Roommates: If you plan on living with roommates, you need to take extra time to imagine how the apartment will suit each of your different needs. In one of my first apartments, I shared a space with two other roommates – a space with three very differently sized bedrooms. Though I was “stuck” with the smallest, it had amazing brick and marble elements, making it the nicest of the three. In the end, we all got what we needed from our bedrooms, which led to more harmony in the common areas.
- Kitchen and Bathroom Conditions: A picture can be illuminating, but you’re never going to get a true feel for a kitchen without seeing it. Understanding the layout, the counter space, the appliances, and how everything works is essential because these things impact your living experience daily. The same goes for the bathroom. Do you want to wake up every morning and get ready for the day in a bathroom that’s ready to fall apart?
- Outdoor Space: An outdoor area, like a porch or a small backyard, is an extension of your apartment in warmer weather. On summer nights, it’s nice to be able to sit and enjoy a breeze without having to spend money at a street café or rooftop bar. It’s a rare commodity in the concrete expanses of most cities, and while outdoor amenities usually cost more, you’ll quickly find ways to maximize their value.
Aesthetics are extremely important when making a decision about an apartment, and we all have different tastes. For example, an apartment with exposed brick might look unfinished to some, but “cool and quirky” to others. Likewise, many people enjoy high ceilings and visible ductwork, while others find it too cavernous and industrial.
It’s all about seeing the property, visualizing yourself in the space, and finding your ideal match.
Here are some charming (but often overlooked) details you should look for during your apartment hunt.
- Crown Molding: A simply decorated wood or plaster trim, placed where walls meet the ceiling, can make a room feel complete and give the entire apartment a sense of age and elegance.
- Hardwood Floors: In addition to being much easier to clean and maintain, hardwood floors give an apartment a classic, “homey” feel. They also give you freedom to add your own touches, such as colorful rugs or throws, to really make a space reflect your style.
- Exposed Brick Walls: As mentioned earlier, exposed brick walls are not for everyone, but when properly maintained (and sealed), they can provide classic city style with minimal effort. In many cities, realtors not only push exposed brick as a selling point for apartments, but also command considerably more money for them.
- Pre-War Architecture: The preservation of older architecture is exciting to see in an apartment because it adds distinctive, old-world character to otherwise boring, urban spaces. Often, pre-war apartments feature traditional design elements, such as intricate tile or fireplaces, even in buildings that don’t have the same exterior aesthetic. Be sure to ask realtors about pre-war options when planning your apartment hunt.
- High Ceilings: Though a matter of preference, having high ceilings can be a great asset in most apartments, especially those with smaller square footage. It might be difficult to visualize, but even a few extra inches of height can make a room feel bigger and give you more room to decorate.
Where should you consider looking to find amenities like these? While New York City dwellers can choose from a slew of up-and-coming neighborhoods brimming with available properties, you can find these charming features in just about any city in America.
To help with your search, check out this breakdown of America’s most charming neighborhoods.
Remember, you’re looking for more than just an apartment. It’s important that you visualize your items, tastes, and lifestyle in any space you consider before signing a lease. Even having the most spacious, impressive apartment is meaningless if it doesn’t truly reflect your style and personality. Those intangible elements aren’t often found in a Craigslist post, but they’re crucial for making your next apartment feel like home.