Trying to make sense of all the confusing apartment types and terms listed in rental ads? Or just want to make sure you are making the right move?
Let’s break it down and look at some essential tips for choosing the best new home so that you won’t have to be packing your bags again next month…
Cracking the Secret Code of Apartment Types
Reading through the rental ads in the classified section of your local paper or even searching for rental homes online and trying to understand all the different apartment types can sometimes seem like trying to decipher a secret code. Some parts of the country are very basic, but trying to make sense of different types of apartments in cities like New York almost requires an Einstein-like IQ or at least a real estate degree.
A studio apartment is basically a one room apartment with sleeping, dining and kitchen all in one room plus a full bathroom. A “convertible” or “alcove” studio may have a nook or area which can be sectioned off separately for sleeping.
1, 2 and 3 Bedroom Apartments
Pretty self-explanatory. These range from junior-sized apartments – barely larger than a studio – to three or four room apartments, to the “classic 6,” a two bedroom plus maid’s quarters with full dining, kitchen and living rooms and two to three bathrooms.
Duplex or Triplex
These terms can have different meanings depending on where you live. It can refer to how many floors an individual apartment has or how many different units there are vertically or horizontally in a building.
These are mixed use residential/commercial buildings often with retail space or offices on the ground floor with living areas above.
These high-ceiling apartments can range from converted commercial buildings to brand new luxury high-rises. They normally feature an open floor plan with no interior walls and a second level sleeping area. Not great for privacy if you have kids, but they can make for spectacular bachelor pads.
Which Apartment Type is Right for You?
You will probably be expected to sign a lease for at least a year, so make sure you are choosing an apartment which is a good fit or you could end up choosing between losing your deposit, having an eviction and collections on your credit report, or living in hell for the next 12 months.
What is most important to you? Size of the apartment, good Feng Shui, low stress, lots of amenities, location or just being left alone?
Renting a House vs. an Apartment
Is it smarter to rent a house or an apartment? Apartment complexes often offer many amenities and can offer big savings when items like fitness facilities, cable TV, Internet and even water are included. However, they also mean sharing walls with frequently changing neighbors and having to abide by a lot of rules. If you have kids or enjoy cranking up the music and partying your way from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon, an apartment may not be for you.
Houses can not only offer more space but more freedom as well. Renting from a private landlord often offers a lot more flexibility in doing what you want, when you want and perhaps a little more flexibility if you ever come up short on the rent. However, private homes, condos and townhouses can sometimes come with extra expenses, and you will definitely want to do your own checks on your future landlord to see what type of reputation they have and ensure the home is not in foreclosure. The last thing you want is to be renting from an evil slumlord who will never fix anything.
Essential Tips for Choosing the Right Rental
- Drive by on different days at different times to check on noise levels.
- Drive different routes to the property – there could be a dump or insane asylum lurking on the next block. Some agents are very talented in routing prospects.
- Google the complex or address.
- Make sure you are handing money to the right person.
- Ask the local gas station attendant and coffee shop cashier about local neighborhoods.
- Check crime statistics online, the types of crimes and how many unsavory characters live nearby.
In Search of Affordable Alternative Rental Options
As far as desirable apartment types go, who doesn’t want to live in a penthouse with amazing views, a private elevator and a 2,000 foot balcony? Unfortunately there are a lot of people hurting financially right now, and with rents quickly rising by double digits in many parts of the country, it can be hard for some to find anything they can afford.
If joining the new tent city near you isn’t appealing, there are two other potential options.
1. Rent Subsidized Apartments
The government runs a number of housing voucher and assistance programs through which they may pay a large percentage of your rent.
2. Extended Stay Hotels
There are now many hotels offering extended stay options and discounts for those staying weeks or months at a time. While the facilities probably aren’t five-star, they normally come with maid service, laundry facilities and Internet – and mean not having to come up with a large sum of cash to move in.
Isn’t Buying a Home Cheaper Than Renting?
Buying a home may be more affordable than renting in many parts of the country. A $100,000 mortgage loan at 4 percent interest means just $477 a month in principal and interest payments. That’s probably far less than most apartment types run in your area. However, just make sure that you are fully aware of all additional monthly expenses involved before you go rushing out shopping for a home.
Don’t have a large down payment saved? Try researching:
Whether buying or renting is for you, put the champagne on ice and go shopping for some fancy invitations for your housewarming party because it is a great time to find a deal on a stunning new condo, house or apartment.