Back when I was in college I lived in an apartment for two years. I’ve lived in a house for over 10 years now, but I’ll never forget my apartment days! Whether it’s a luxury apartment, or a vintage walkup, apartment living has its challenges — be it noisy neighbors, sketchy landlords, or that dude who keeps hogging all the dryers. Although challenging, apartment living doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, there are several ways you can actually make apartment living pretty awesome.
Get in Good with the Landlord
This doesn’t necessarily mean sucking up to the guy, but rather keeping things on good terms with him and being the kind of tenant that landlords like. Look at it this way, in order to keep renting out apartments and make his money, your landlord depends on all of the units being in good condition. He also depends on the common areas looking good so that they look attractive to potential renters. Doing your part to keep your space in good condition, and not letting your living area spill out into the hallway will go a long way toward harboring good will with your landlord. For example, if you have a dog it means cleaning up after it when you go out for walks. It also means keeping your apartment clean to avoid vermin infestations, and using air fresheners so that cooking smells and other odors don’t drift out into the hallway, and it means keeping loud noises and other unpleasant sounds within the walls of your apartment. It also means reporting to your landlord if other tenants aren’t doing their part.
Be a Good Neighbor
Living in an apartment means that you have your own space, but you also have to share space with others. A log of the things you do to stay on the landlord’s good side would also keep you on good terms with your neighbors. No one likes to be woken up at 2AM by loud parties, loud arguments, or dogs that bark all night long. It’s also difficult to live with people who mess up common areas, like leaving spilled detergent spills in the laundry room, or treating the hallway like your personal ashtray. It also means respecting any assigned spaces. For example, if your building has assigned parking, don’t park in other people’s spaces, or block them in, even if it’s closer to your apartment and you’re only going to be there a short while.
Ultimately, cultivating good relationships with your neighbors means respecting that other people have to live in the same space and treating them the way you would want them to treat you.
Protect Your Stuff
You might be surprised to discover that if your apartment is damaged by a natural disaster, a leaky pipe, or a fire, your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your personal possessions. If it’s worth having, then it’s worth protecting. Renters insurance is kind of like homeowner’s insurance for renters. It doesn’t cover the property, but it will cover your personal possessions in the event that they are damaged or stolen. It can also protect you if a visitor is injured inside your apartment, something else your landlord’s homeowner’s policy might not cover.
Some landlords actually require that all renters carry insurance as part of the terms of the lease. This is designed to protect you in the event of an incident, and to protect your landlord as well.
Make Your Space Your Own
As a renter, you are often limited in how much you can customize your apartment, and those limitations depend on your landlord. Some places might have strict rules about how you hang artwork, while others might give you a lot of latitude for making changes, as long as you get permission from the landlord first. However, temporary changes are often OK with most landlords, as long as they are easy to reverse. For example, installing a luxury shower head is easy, and only takes minutes to replace if you ever move out and you can use non-marking adhesive hooks to hang your artwork. Instead of installing shelves, you can use pieces of furniture that can also double as storage.
It may require a little creativity, but by making your place your own, you will be more comfortable and more likely to stick around.
Keep Looking Forward
Keep in mind that circumstances change. That apartment that was really awesome a year ago could be too small and cramped now. Buildings change hands, and management, which can mean rent increases and changes to the lease. No matter how awesome your space is, keep in mind that you might have to leave one day. Every now and then check apartment listings in your area, to keep abreast of what’s available and what kind of rents they’re charging, long before you ever have to start looking. Keep some money set aside so that you can easily handle the deposit plus first and last month’s rent on a new place.
When it does come time to move, make sure you have satisfied the lease and that you give your landlord plenty of notice. That, and all the work you had done previously to be a good tenant, should go a long way toward getting you a good reference for your next place.