Upgrades That Aren’t Worth The Cash in a Rental

Many apartments will try to catch your attention with fancy upgrades or add-on’s that tack on serious cost to your monthly rent payment. Some of them may be worth it…but some upgrades simply aren’t worth the cash. If you’re on a serious budget during your apartment hunt, check out the common upgrades below, and keep an eye out for other options while you’re hunting. If an apartment you like (but is out of your price range) contains some of the add-on’s, ask the landlord if they have a similar unit without the upgrades to cut costs.

  • Granite countertops

While granite may be beautiful and functional (I do LOVE that you can place hot pans right on the counter!), don’t splurge for it in an apartment you’re renting. Many units use a granite-lookalike laminate that will work just fine. Remember, this is a temporary living situation in most cases. Use this time to save money and focus on your career, so when you finally purchase your own place it can include extra touches like stone counters.

  • Fancy shower or bathroom

Sure, you don’t want to live in a cramped, dirty bathroom…but don’t be fooled by overpriced apartments touting extra-large bathrooms or those with extra fixtures and appliances. Quick fixes to older bathrooms–like a deep cleaning, covering tile with nice bath mats, and adding artistic touches–can go a long way to make the space feel like home on a tight budget.

  • Room with a view

Units with especially nice views are often overpriced immediately! Instead of falling for the view, ask the landlord if they have any other units, and let them know that you’re open. Most apartments have some sort of nice view…Although you may not get to wake up to a view of the city skyline or a local park, saving money will make an average view worthwhile.

  • Upgraded kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances, like a refrigerator, stove, and microwave, are kitchen appliances! It’s all about looks here, and landlords won’t hesitate to charge extra for units with brand new materials. Some landlords even purchase slightly used appliances or appliances that have cosmetic damage and pass them off as new…and you pay the cost! Instead of asking for brand new appliances in your apartment kitchen be flexible, and just make sure that the ones you have are fully functional.

  • Parking

Parking, if you drive, could be an upgrade that is worth it depending on your city. If there is public parking close by for a low cost, be sure to compare that pricing to what your landlord offers. If the landlord’s price is higher, try to negotiate to a lower price or park elsewhere.

  • Washer / dryer in apartment

While many rentals now come with washer/dryer units, it’s definitely not a necessity and may increase your monthly rent cost. If you live in an apartment complex or building without in-apartment washer/dryers, the landlord will generally provide access to a laundromat or recommend one nearby. You’ll have to pay by the load, but it may be less expensive than splurging on an overpriced unit. Having the washer/dryer in your apartment is definitely convenient, but popping over to your local laundromat isn’t too challenging. (You might even make friends at the laundromat, waiting for your clothes to dry!) Make sure to compare units with washer/dryers to those without to confirm you’re saving money.

  • Trendy accents 

Trendy accents like new flooring, cabinetry, and light fixtures can make a big statement when you first walk in the door…but after that, they don’t add much to your space. Instead of splurging on a newly renovated apartment, find a (CLEAN) apartment with older accents. Once you move in, spend $30 to $100 on new cabinet handles, light fixtures, and rugs. Plus, you get to take them with you when you move out, saving money in your next place.

So, what do you think about these upgrades? Anything you couldn’t live without?

P.S. Check out this recent article in the New York Times that shows how each amenity adds to rent in different cities. (More cities included in the article.)

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Author My First Apartment
Sarah

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Sarah is a dog lover and advocate for conversation & laughing at your own jokes. Since finishing her college career in communications, she began working (and living) in Atlanta. After living in a few different apartments over the last few years, she's ready to share experiences. Stay tuned for adventures, tips and advice!

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