Renting or buying an apartment is a lot like finding a new car. Some of them have all the bells and whistles, while others only have the most bare-bones options. Are all those extra toys worth the additional cost on your rent, or can you shed some amenities in favor of lower housing costs? The most desirable apartment amenities can be nice perks, but follow these guidelines to decide whether you’re interested in forking up more money for them.
Most Desirable Apartment Amenities
A survey of apartment renters in 2017 found some popular apartment amenities include things like:
- A washer and dryer, or washer and dryer hookups in the unit
- Air conditioning — Laws in most states require the landlord to provide heat, but not air conditioning, so having A/C in hot states or during warmer months is a big perk.
- Pets — Even if the apartment charges a pet deposit, it’s better than them not being allowed at all.
- Furnished apartments, which can be a boon for someone just starting out who might not have furniture yet
- The cost of rent including some or all the utilities
- Apartments that either have cable hooked up or are cable-ready
In addition to these perks, community-based amenities are also popular, like swimming pools, pet-friendly complexes, gated access, wireless Internet, an in-house laundry facility or covered parking.
Which of these bonuses are worth the extra cost, and which ones can you take or leave?
Laundry Amenities — Yes
Having a washer or dryer in your home can save you a ton of money in the long run. If you do two loads of laundry a week — one of clothing and one of bedclothes — that’s 104 loads of laundry a year. If you’re spending $5 at the laundromat per load of laundry, that’s $520 a year to wash your dirty clothes. And that’s assuming your laundromat doesn’t charge more than $2.50 per load.
If you already have a washer and dryer, all you need is a hookup for water and a vent for the dryer. If these aren’t in your moving truck, finding an apartment with an in-unit washer and dryer can save you more than $500, since all you’ll need to spend money on are laundry detergent and fabric softener.
Dishwasher — Take or Leave
A dishwasher can be extremely convenient, for sure. All you need to do is rinse your dishes, load up the dishwasher and turn it on in order to keep your kitchen clean. If you have to pay for utilities, though, a dishwasher can run up your water bill a lot more quickly than you might like.
A dishwasher is one of those amenities you can take or leave. If you have to pay for water, you might want to skip it, but if your rent includes the water bill, it can be a fantastic perk.
In-House Internet — Take or Leave
An apartment complex that offers free wireless Internet might seem like a smart way to save on your cable bill, but take the time to check out the signal strength in your potentially new apartment before you stay yes. Even if the building has a router on each floor, chances are the speed won’t be the greatest, so you might have trouble with even simple things like checking email or loading your social media.
If the apartment offers a router in each apartment, this becomes a yes. If they only have a router on each floor, or a single router downstairs, this is a take-or-leave amenity that isn’t worth the extra cost.
Cable-Ready Apartments — Yes
For many people, Internet access is right up there with water and electricity when it comes to must-have utilities. Having a cable-ready apartment can make the process of installing Internet or cable much more manageable. This feature makes the entire installation cheaper. Plus, you won’t risk losing your security deposit because the cable installer had to punch new holes in the walls.
Some or All Utilities Included — Yes
Having the rent encompass your utilities is an easy way to reduce your overall expenses, period. It can also help streamline your finances. You won’t have half a dozen bills to pay every month, thus reducing the chances you’ll forget to pay one. Even if the cost of rent only covers one or two of your utilities — like electricity and water/sewage/garbage, for example — that’s still a couple of bills you don’t need to pay.
Inclusive utilities only become a take-it-or-leave-it amenity if their cost increases the rent well above the average rental prices in your area. Ask yourself, “How much are utilities in my area?” and see if the amount of money you’d be spending on utilities offsets the additional cost on your rent.
Swimming Pools — Take or Leave
Being able to enjoy a swimming pool whenever the weather is warm enough is an excellent perk, but if it increases the cost of your rent dramatically, it’s not worth it. It also might not be worth the extra money if you live in an area where it rarely gets warm enough to swim every year. In that case, you’re paying extra for an amenity you can’t even use during most seasons. Many apartments close their pools entirely during the winter to cut down on maintenance costs.
Are you really that into swimming? A big plus, then, is that you’ll have access to a swimming pool you don’t have to maintain — which is a bonus, because taking care of a chlorine pool can get expensive, and saltwater pools are even costlier.
Garages or Covered Parking — Yes
If you’ve got a car, finding a place to park can be a nightmare. It gets even more difficult if you live in a city where parking is expensive or competitive. Having an apartment complex with garages or covered parking can make it easier to find a parking space. In addition, it keeps your car safe from both thieves and the elements.
This safety factor increases even further if you live in a gated community. If you have the opportunity to rent an apartment that offers parking, it is absolutely worth the cost.
Some apartments offer all the bells and whistles, but even the most desirable apartment amenities aren’t always worth the cost. Take time to weigh the benefits of the amenities your new apartment complex offers. Do they fit within your budget? Are they going to benefit you, or is the extra money you’re paying only benefiting your landlord?