Pros vs. Cons of Renting a Vintage Apartment

vintage apartmentWell, it’s been almost 2 years (a long stretch for me — I’ve moved at least 5 times since graduating college almost 3 years ago!), but I’m on the apartment hunt yet again. This time, I’m leaving my home state of Georgia behind and heading up to beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia, all thanks to a fabulous new job. Jumping back into the craziness of apartment hunting has already reminded me of so many things I’d forgotten e.g., how misleading Craigslist photos can be, how choosing a safe neighborhood is super important, how hard it can be to find an apartment that both fits your needs, your style, and your budget, and so on.

One of the most important things to consider for me during this most recent apartment search is how the pros of renting an older, vintage-esque apartment (I’m not a fan of modern apartments by any means) stacks up against the cons. As I went on countless tours this weekend in search for the perfect vintage apartment, all those pros and cons really came to light. So, if you’re considering renting retro, check out this handy-dandy pros and cons list before deciding if an older, vintage place is actually right for you (because, as we all know, sometimes “cute” just doesn’t cut it!).


Alright, let’s jump right into the bad news first. Not any two apartments are the same, but chances are, if you go with an older, pre-war apartment, you could end up facing these downsides.

  • Less Space/Tiny Closets/Small Bathrooms

This really needs no explanation. The fact of the matter is that often older apartments are smaller, usually because they were once a house that was converted into smaller apartments.

  • No Central AC/Heat

Because central AC and heat wasn’t a thing in the past, many pre-war apartments haven’t been updated with modern duct systems. For this reason, you might have to deal with window units for your AC and old radiators, that you cannot regulate, for heat.

  • Maintenance Issues

When things get old, they usually start to wear out, this is true regardless of what we’re talking about, but it’s especially true when it comes to old apartments. If you rent an older place, don’t be surprised when big maintenance things pop up.

  • Older Fixtures/Appliances

Many cities have specific rules about what can and cannot be changed about the historical character of an older building. For this reason, many apartments you’ll find that are of the older generations will still have older bathroom and kitchen fixtures and older appliances, too. This isn’t always the case, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re hoping for a fancy bathroom and kitchen in your pretty pre-war place.

  • Gas Heating/Stove

Gas was the way it was done back in the day, so if you end up renting vintage, be sure to calculate the cost of gas into your expected utilities bills — most places just usually aren’t all electric if they hail from the older day and age.


Okay, now that I’ve gone and been a Debbie Downer, let’s take a look at the brighter side of living in an older apartment. Because I love these pros so much, I can look past all the cons, but that might not be the same for you, so make sure to survey your priorities really well before signing a lease on what might be an adorable, but potentially nightmare-inducing apartment.

  • Hardwood Floors

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think carpet is horrible — it irritates my allergies, it’s hard to clean, it stains easily, and I think it’s just down-right ugly. So, I’m considering this a pro, but your opinions may differ. Whatever the case, hardwood floors are common in older apartments, usually throughout the entire place, which is a huge pro if you aren’t into carpet or have pets. Plus, it’s gorgeous and adds a really charming aesthetic, too.

  • Lots of Character/Unique Architecture

Built-in bookcases, crown molding, French doors… ahhh, there truly is no thing more amazing and positive about a pre-war. I’ve never been a fan of cookie-cutter apartments, so when I walk in and see neat details like these, my heart just melts!

  • Location, Location, Location

One of my favorite things about pre-war apartments is that they’re usually located in really great areas, sometimes even right smack downtown. I don’t know about you, but I’d give up a few square feet for a fabulous location any day!

  • Thicker Walls/Less Noise

Ever heard the saying, “they just don’t make ’em like they used to?” Well, when it comes to the pre-war/post-war apartment debate, this phrase really proves to be true — vintage apartments are way more sturdy and the walls are often thicker (which means you won’t hear your neighbor’s every move). If you prefer peace and quiet, then this is a definitely benefit.

Alright, pre-war apartment-lovers, do you have any more pros and cons to add? If so, comment just below!

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Audra is a recent college graduate and an aspiring writer based in her home state of Georgia. She’s a lover of the sweetest Southern tea, warm weather, and decorating with lots of color, DIY projects, and shabby chic pieces. Her apartment living journey is still young, so she’s busy navigating the ups and downs and learning along the way. For more from Audra, follow her on Pinterest or check out her website

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Comments (1)

  1. Avatar Russian River Apartments

    One thing is for sure that pro or con you are getting Vintage. Vintage is a nicer word for old and is more of a style then a type of apartment. You still need to make sure even if this is the style you are looking for, is this the size and location that you need? Keep everything in min, hopefully the rustic beauty allows you to still remember what you need.