How Much Apartment Can You Really Afford?

Woman sits at desk in window area of loft apartmentMuch has been made in today’s media outlets about the affordability of apartments. And, while the cost of renting is still lower than the cost of owning in most cities, the truth is that many apartment residents are struggling to pay their monthly bills. Despite what is often reported in the news, there are still plenty of affordable apartments in every city in the U.S. The two challenges are first finding them and second knowing how much apartment you really can afford.

Location vs. Lifestyle
If we all had our wish, we would live in the nicest apartment in our favorite part of town, close to all of the things we love and need to do. But where you rent an apartment is just as important as which apartment community you choose. Downtown high-rise and mid-rise apartment communities will cost you much more than their counterparts in a more suburban or rural setting. Ask yourself which is more important: living close to the action or saving more money to enjoy your lifestyle? To lead the life you choose, it might be necessary to either commute or moderate your apartment expectations.

Does Size Really Matter?
When you are searching for a new apartment for yourself (and those who live with you), ask yourself how big or small of a place you truly need. The bigger the apartment, the more space you have —but also the more you are going to pay. For people who seek more play than possessions, a micro-apartment may be a great way to save a few dollars on rent. But, if space is a necessity for you and your family, you might need to give up some luxury in order to afford the space you crave.

How Old (New) is Too Old (New)
In a perfect scenario, you will spend less than 20% of your take-home income on rent. Depending on the job that you have and the lifestyle you desire, you are going to have to make some choices when it comes to how old your new apartment community is. The newer the community, the more it will cost. With a new community, you get a newer fitness center, outdoor recreations, and some other community amenities. This enables you to save a few bucks on a gym membership and other things you would normally venture outside your home to do. But the real savings come when you find an older, established community that still meets your basic lifestyle needs. It may not have all the trappings of the newly-opened place up the street; but, for the money you will pay, it is hard to beat the savings you will find at an established community.

Once you have determined just how much you are able to spend, the next step is finding the apartment for rent that best meets your budget while appealing to your lifestyle. Instead of spending hours of legwork to discover the best options, head over to There, you will find the nation’s only free apartment locating service that actually pays you (up to $200) for using it. Enter the criteria that you are looking for and ApartmentSearch’s comprehensive marketplace listings will match you with the apartments that are best for you. That is time and money well saved and one step closer to moving into a great apartment you can really afford.

Keep Reading!

  • How to Budget for Your First Apartment
  • Why Paying More for Rent Can Be a Good Thing


Where Should You Live: Top Floor or Ground Floor Apartment

Smiling woman in beige shirt and large fedora sitting on balcony of an apartment typing on computer. Trying to decide whether you should live upstairs or downstairs in an apartment building can feel like a weighty decision — because it is! After all, this choice will affect you for the next year or more, depending on your lease’s length.

Before you start pulling your hair out, we’ve put together a list of pros and cons for each unit type. That way, you can narrow down your apartment search to what suits you best!

Should You Live in a Top Floor or Ground Floor Apartment?

The Benefits of Living in a Top Floor Apartment

  • Spectacular Views: Whether your apartment complex is two stories high or thirty — the views are better the higher up you go. Opting for a top-floor apartment can make you feel like you’re living in the clouds. Enjoy those pretty views outside while you’re sipping your coffee in the morning.
  • More Privacy: It’s harder to peer into windows when they’re 20+ feet off the ground! Enjoy more solitude (and fewer looky-loos) in your high-rise home.
  • Peace and Quiet: Avoid the daily hustle — and the noises that go along with it — when you’re removed from street-level happenings. You’re less likely to notice voices of passersby, construction sounds, and cars wheezing by when you’re a few stories removed.
  • Fewer Pests: Because of the sheer climb, creepy crawlies are less likely to make it to the top floor. Enjoy a bug-free home when you live on the top floor.
  • More Secure: Break-ins are less common on top floor apartments, as thieves tend to choose places with a quick getaway. Stairs, elevators, and high windows help prevent burglars from targeting your top-floor home.

The Cons of Living in a Top Floor Apartment

  • Daily Inconveniences: Living on the top floor means lugging up groceries, shopping bags, and other bulky or heavy items up the stairs or elevator — especially in a highrise. However, some apartment communities provide parking structures that easily connect to your level, alleviating this pain! Keep this in mind when searching for your next apartment.
  • Higher A/C Bills: Heat rises. So if you live on the top floor in a warmer climate, this can result in higher A/C bills or even complications with your air conditioning inside your apartment.
  • Longer Emergency Exits: In case of an emergency, it can be more difficult to evacuate your building when you live on the upper stories of your building. If you ultimately decide that a top-floor unit is best, make sure you’re aware of escape routes near you.
  • Increased Rent: Top floor apartments tend to be in higher demand, so expect to pay a bit more every month for this luxury.

The Pros of Living in a Ground Floor Apartment

  • Outdoor Living Space: One of the main luxuries of living downstairs is having an outdoor living space! This is especially favorable if you’re a pet owner and need extra room for Rufus to stretch his legs.
  • Accessibility: Unlike your top-floor neighbors, you’ll find sweet satisfaction in avoiding the stairs and elevators when bringing in groceries and other heavy loads!
  • Fewer Noise Complaints: Because nobody lives below you, you’re less likely to have noise complaints filed against you when you live on the bottom floor of an apartment.
  • Cheaper Rent: Since more renters tend to want a top-floor apartment, you may find that bottom-floor apartments cost a bit less! If you don’t notice a price difference, you could try negotiating rent with your leasing agent.
  • Higher-Grade Amenities: In addition to lower rent, some communities install higher-grade appliances in bottom floor apartments to entice renters who may prefer an upper-level unit.
  • Cooler Temps in the Summer: Living in a downstairs apartment can be like living in a cool cave during the summer. Since heat rises, you’ll find your home is naturally cooler compared to units above you.

Top Reasons You Should Not Live in a Bottom Floor Apartment

  • More Overall Noise: While you’re less likely to have a noise complaint filed against you, you may find yourself bothered by your neighbor stomping around upstairs. Plus, bottom-floor apartments are closer to ground-level noises such as chatty pedestrians, ambulance wails, and dogs barking.
  • Less Secure: It’s true that bottom-floor apartments are more susceptible to break-ins. However, talk to your leasing manager to understand what kind of security is in place to mitigate these risks.
  • Pesky Pests: A major drawback from living on the ground level — bugs! It’s easier to crawl through cracks in bottom-floor apartments than scale steep walls and creep into upper levels.

Top floor, ground floor, and everything in between — ApartmentSearch helps you sift through available rental units near you to find your diamond in the rough!


Top 10 Apartment Search Websites

Happy couple laying on floor, looking at apartment search sites on laptopShopping for a new apartment can be overwhelming. Sure, many times you can jump into your car and scour the area in search of that perfect place. But, if you need to save time —or if you live in a different city or state — most searches for a new apartment begin online. But which site do you use? Are all apartment internet listing services the same? How do you choose? These questions alone can drive any apartment seeker mad. Luckily, we did the legwork for you and found the top 10 sites you can use to find your next apartment.

No. 1 ApartmentSearch
Whether you are a professional looking to relocate for work, a college student seeking an apartment close to college, or a family seeking a newer, better, furnished apartment, ApartmentSearch has you covered. As a division of CORT, the site’s national partnerships with apartment management companies offer an unparalleled resource for market information, all while making them a one-stop shop for furnished apartments. Also, they are the only national apartment Internet listing service that pays users a $200 reward for using them. Whether you are looking to move across the state, across the country, or from another part of the world, ApartmentSearch has you covered for everything you need to make finding your new apartment easy.

No. 2 For Rent
Another one of the most regarded brands in the multi-family industry, ForRent prides itself on a great experience for apartment shoppers. They have teams meeting with your potential apartment community on a daily basis so they can bring you the most up-to-date listing possible. College students seeking a new place to live also love ForRent University, specifically designed to help them find a great apartment for college.

No. 3 Apartment Guide
One of the most established brands in the nation, Apartment Guide is one of the top respected names in the multifamily industry. Easy-to-use with a huge assortment of apartment listings, Apartment Guide brings you up-to-the-minute info on the latest rental available. Just as with ForRent, their team is on the streets and in the offices of the apartments you are keeping in mind. This means they have the latest scoop on the apartment communities you are considering moving to.

No. 4 Lovely
Looking for an apartment? There is an app for that. Only a few of years ago, Lovely hit the apartment-finding scene and took the nation by storm. Lovely’s interactive app is one-of-a-kind and is an especially useful tool for people who are out and about looking for a great new apartment to call home.

No. 5 ApartmentList
For anyone who loves a great digital experience when searching for a new apartment, look no further than ApartmentList. Both the website and app are interactive, and a joy to engage with. ApartmentList provides some of the most fun you can have when looking for a new apartment.

No. 6 Trulia
Another one of the big dogs of the real estate finding world, Trulia is also a great place to find a single family home rental and they have plenty of apartments to boot. We love the info bar at the top of its search map, which gives info on crime, schools, commute and other factors.

No. 7 Zillow
Being one of the real estate search giants has its advantages. Zillow has an expansive listing of rentals in nearly every market in the U.S. However, Zillow’s site and app are not the easiest to use when seeking a new rental. While the service provides apartment listings to choose from, Zillow truly shines if you are looking to rent a single family home, though it still has lots of traditional apartments to search among. The way Zillow groups listings together by popular criteria is a great place to start.

No. 8 Rent Cafe
Rent Cafe has a very elegant layout and feel. The added information they provide for marketplaces via their “Rent Trends” tab is especially appealing. Also, the site’s informative blog is often cited by national news sources. They have limited listings in certain markets but are a great resource for those looking in a major metro area (especially in the western half of the U.S.).

No. 9 Apartment Finder
Being one of the most established brands in the industry, Apartment Finder remains a great choice for individuals seeking a new apartment. The 3D tour in the photo gallery is a stand-out feature, and the simplicity of seeing the amenities offered by thumbnail make for a nice, interactive experience. This is an especially good choice when searching in smaller cities and towns.

No. 10 Hot Pads
Hot Pads has a terrific interactive map when you start to search by city. It also sports a handy “Get Alerts” feature so you can be updated when new options that meet your search criteria come online. It is a great option for people looking to move within the same area.


What’s the Difference Between a Joint Lease and an Individual Lease?

Renter on bed, debating over individual or joint lease apartment optionsFilling out the application for an apartment and then reading through the lease can be a confusing process. We understand.

One of the things that might be a bit hard to understand before you sign on the dotted line is the difference between an individual lease and a joint lease. We’re going to break it down for you.

Individual Lease Apartments vs. Joint Leases

An Individual Lease

As explained by the University of Kentucky, an individual lease means you’re financially responsible only for your part of the rent and other expenses associated with an apartment. Under this scenario, each roommate has his or her own lease. So, if your roommate moves out unexpectedly and each of you has an individual lease, then the landlord can’t force you to cover your ex-roommate’s part of the rent. Think of this as a “by the bedroom lease.”

“Individual rental agreements mean that each tenant is responsible for their own behavior and decisions separately,” according to Tenants Union of Washington State.

A Joint Lease

On the other hand, a joint lease — in legalese, this refers to the lease’s “joint and several liability” clause — puts full financial responsibility for the rent and related expenses on all of the tenants, the University of Kentucky says. In this situation, all of the roommates are listed on a single lease. Think of this as a “by the apartment lease.”

“Unfair as this practice seems, this clause is enforceable. If may be a good idea to have one tenant responsible for paying the rent and have all roommates pay that person,” the University of Kansas recommends.

Tenants Union of Washington State gives this example of what can go wrong if you have a joint lease:

You and two roommates share an apartment, and all three of you are listed on the joint lease. Each of you is supposed to pay one-third of the rent. But if one of the roommates fails to pay, the landlord could send a notice to all three tenants demanding payment of the one-third of the rent that hasn’t been collected. If that rent isn’t paid within a certain period, all three roommates could be evicted — not just the roommate who didn’t pay his or her share of the rent.

Under a joint lease, you also could be left paying for damage caused by a roommate. The Tenant Resource Center offers this example:

Joey punches a hole in one of the walls one night and then relocates to Mexico for work a couple of weeks later. Kyle, the remaining roommate on the joint lease, moves out of the apartment, but still lives in the same town. Since Kyle is easier to track down, the landlord likely will come after him for money to fix the damaged wall.

Tips for Handling Joint Lease & Individual Lease Situations

To avoid sticky lease situations with roommates, experts offer these tips:

  • Get an individual lease for each roommate, instead of a joint lease covering all of the roommates.
  • Carefully screen roommates before moving in. Pick a roommate who’s responsible, not flaky, and who’ll pay his or her fair share.
  • Avoid surprises by reading through the lease to make sure you know what your rights and responsibilities are.
  • Consider going to court. If a roommate moves out and you had a joint lease, you can sue the ex-roommate in small claims court to try to recover the money that you were stuck paying for something like a hole punched in a wall.

Whether you’re aiming for a joint lease or an individual lease on an apartment, you can start your apartment hunt on and always come out on top. Regardless of the type of lease you sign, you’re eligible to receive $200 in rewards!


11 Essential Questions to Ask When Renting a Room in an Apartment

woman posting "room for rent" sign on wooden fenceAre you renting a room in someone else’s apartment? Or, maybe you’re considering renting out a room in your apartment. Either could be a smart way to cut down on housing expenses.

Renting a room comes with its fair share of risks, though. Ask these 11 questions to ensure your rental situation is safe and satisfying.

1. What is the exact rent?

Follow Up: Are there other move-in fees? How and when do you pay rent?

It might sound self-explanatory, but make sure you confirm the rent before you sign anything. Ask if you’re responsible for any other fees, like a security deposit, a pet deposit, or pet rent—if applicable.

Confirm the date rent is due each month, and check how your landlord would prefer to get paid. Some prefer a written check, while others are fine with a cash-paying app or direct deposit.

2. What utilities will you be paying?

If you’re splitting everything with your roommate(s), get a general estimate for how much utilities will cost each month. It’s important to consider utilities when planning your housing budget.

3. How long do your potential roommates hope to fill the room?

Follow Up: How long is their lease?

Find out how long the room could potentially be yours, and how long they’re planning on staying in the unit. If you’re looking for a permanent place and they want to move out in six months, it might not be the best choice.

If you are planning on renting short-term, check out CORT furniture rental, where you can rent entire bedroom sets without commitment. This is a perfect option for renters who are moving from room to room, city to city!

4. How often do they clean?

Are they neat freaks, or do they clean once a year? How clean are you? It can be hard for super tidy people to cohabitate with messy people, and vice versa. Keep that in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask!

5. Is this a more quiet/low-key house, or a “party” house?

Follow Up: If it’s the latter, is the party here or outside the apartment?

It’s important to learn about the “vibe” of the house before moving in. If you work early in the mornings, it’s good to find out now if your potential roommates host raging parties six nights a week.

6. What do they do for work?

Follow Up: What’s their average day look like?

It’s good to consider your future roommate’s schedule when figuring out how you’d fit into the living situation. Are they gone from sun up to sun down every day? Do they work nights or work from home?

7. Do your potential roommates smoke?

Some people are bothered by the smell of smoke, and some even have health conditions (like asthma or allergies) that are exacerbated by smoke. Double check if anyone in the apartment smokes if that would bother you.

8. Are there any general “house rules,” spoken or unspoken?

Follow Up: Is there a cleaning schedule? Is there a curfew or quiet hours?

Do they take turns doing the dishes, mopping the floors, or vacuuming the living room? Is everyone quiet after 10 PM? Is the refrigerator a free-for-all or is it every man for themselves? Make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for if you end up renting their room.

9. Do they have any pets, or are they considering getting any?

Find out if you’ll be sharing the space with any furry friends. This is especially important if you’re allergic or if you’re bringing your own pet into the mix.

10. Are they still friends with their old roommates?

Follow Up: Why is this room available?

You can learn a lot about potential roommates with this question. If their old roommate moved out because they wanted somewhere quieter or cleaner (or they just didn’t gel), it’s good to know.

11. What are their biggest pet peeves?

If you’re a social butterfly and they can’t stand visitors, that may be an issue. If you’re messy and they can’t stand clutter, you may have conflict. Find out what pushes their buttons, and figure out if you’d be a good fit.

Renting a room is a great way to save some money and meet some cool people! At ApartmentSearch, we want you to find what you’re looking for, no matter what your ideal living situation looks like. Find a room on your own search for cheap studios and one-bedroom apartments today.


What to Look for During a Self-Guided Apartment Tour

White and light wood L-shaped decorated kitchenA self-guided apartment tour allows you to explore a space at your leisure, taking your time to check out all the features or amenities the apartment has to offer. Learn how to make the most out of one of these self-guided tours, and ensure you cover all your bases before you sign a lease or make a deposit!

What to look for on a self-guided apartment tour

There’s really nothing that beats the in-person experience of walking through an available unit. A self-guided apartment tour is a flexible option that works with your schedule by allowing you to select a time to see the rental all on your own. But with this solo venture comes a bit more responsibility since you won’t have an agent or property manager there by your side.

Fortunately, we’ve come up with a list of five things to look for during your self-guided tour, so you can feel prepared to make the right decision for you.

1.The condition of the appliances

Appearances can be deceiving, especially when you’re looking at expertly-retouched photos taken for the sole purpose of renting a unit. As you’re doing research online, it may be hard to tell how updated the oven is or how well that fridge has been cleaned.

When you take the tour for yourself, be sure to inspect each appliance’s condition, even opening the door or cabinets to see what’s inside. If anything looks like it’s coming up at the end of its lifecycle, it may be worth asking about getting a replacement before you move in.

Additionally, before you even start the tour, ensure that you’re looking at the available unit rather than a model. If the property manager only allows you to walk through the model, take all the glam features with a grain of salt — models are often decked out with better finishes, appliances, and views than available units.

2. The closet and storage space

If a place is listed as a two-bedroom apartment, you can probably expect it to have two closets — but are there any extra drawers, linen closets, or shelves in the hallway or bathroom? Depending on how much stuff you’re moving in with you, the amount of storage space might be a make-or-break factor in your decision-making process.

During your self-guided tour, be sure to check out the dimensions of each closet. Consider whether your belongings will fit comfortably or whether you’ll need an apartment with additional storage potential.

3. The safety or security measures

Regardless of if you’re living alone, with a romantic partner, or with a group of friends, you’ll want to feel safe inside your home and within your apartment complex. Online listings often leave out information regarding the security measures around the property, which means it’ll be up to you to make some mental notes on your tour.

Is the building located behind a gate, with a special code to get in? Does the door to your apartment lead directly outside, or is there an exterior front door you enter to access each unit? Does the unit you’re renting face the street or the apartment courtyard? Everyone’s requirements for what puts them at ease will vary, so just make sure you feel comfortable with the situation as you envision yourself living there.

4. The neighbors

It’s easy to look at a picture of a beautifully furnished model apartment and get your hopes up without seeing it in-person. But what a photo can’t tell you is what kind of activity that residence brings with it. When you’re taking a self-guided apartment tour, listen for any loud noises in the hallways or stairwells, as well as the noise from neighboring buildings or businesses.

It could be that everything is quiet and respectful, but if you hear excess commotion, it’s something to think about (especially if you work from home or tend to spend the majority of your time there).

5. The parking arrangement

If and where there’s parking available will have a significant impact on your quality of life. After all, ease of parking makes it easier to walk to your apartment on dark nights, stormy days, or whenever you’re toting six bags worth of groceries in one trip! So when you’re touring a new complex, pay attention to where the cars are parked in relation to each building.

Is there a covered garage where you’re protected from the elements, or is there a private lot for residents to use? Where can overnight guests park? And can you pay a little extra to opt-in for a closer space? If these questions can’t be answered through your own observations, you’re smart to ask the property manager for additional clarity.

What to ask when searching for an apartment

Knowing which questions to ask before signing a lease is vital to finding an apartment you’ll thrive in. The following are just a handful of things you can bring up, but of course, feel free to ask whatever applies to your unique situation.

  • Are the lease terms negotiable (length of commitment, adding a roommate, etc.)?
  • Is the available unit a different layout than the model apartment you toured?
  • Are furnished apartments available?
  • Who do you contact for maintenance issues or repairs?
  • What are the consequences for a missed (or late) rent payment?
  • Are pets allowed, and if so, are there guidelines as to their size/weight?
  • Are there any group activities or outings for tenants in this building?
  • Do they offer any discounts for signing a long-term contract?
  • What do tenants say they love most about living here?

Love where you live!

Finding a new apartment can be a real challenge, especially if the space you rent turns out to look nothing like the model you toured a few months back. Next time, skip the unpleasant surprises by vetting your rental options with ApartmentSearch!

ApartmentSearch can help you secure your next place with ease, so you can focus on all the fun that comes with settling in. Check out our list of city guides and apartment resources today, and start planning your move in no time!


Pros and Cons of Renting a House

Tan wooden suburban house photographed from end of drivewayWhen searching for your perfect home, there are plenty of big decisions to make – and one of those is deciding the kind of space you want. Renting a house isn’t the same as renting an apartment! Leasing a home does have its benefits, but it also has several drawbacks you should consider. Get the big picture by reading our comprehensive guide on the pros and cons of renting a house.

Pros of Renting a House

More space

One of the significant advantages of renting a house instead of an apartment is the extra space. In a house, you’ll likely have more bedrooms, bathrooms, and even outdoor space! Need a home office or extra room for your treadmill? That’s doable in a house. Not only will you have more room for your belongings, but you’ll also have additional space for hosting friends, family, and out-of-town visitors.

Less noise and more privacy

Paper-thin walls are a common complaint amongst apartment renters, and living in an apartment complex often means dealing with neighborly nuisances. In a house, you won’t be kept up all night by your neighbor’s unwanted (and unpolished) tuba serenade or shrieking baby. Additionally, you’ll have the increased privacy that comes with the added distance between you and your neighbors.

More family-friendly and pet-friendly

Though many apartments allow pets, the luxury of having your own yard makes pet ownership much more manageable. The increased space in a house means children and pets have more room to spread out and play (and you can get them out of your hair!). Plus, you won’t need to worry about their playtime volume eliciting any complaints from neighbors.

Cons of Renting a House

Extra maintenance

With all of that wonderful extra space comes extra lines on your to-do list — from additional floors that need to be vacuumed and swept to mowing and pulling weeds frequently throughout the year. While the spaciousness of a home is a major plus, it can also be a major pain. Keep this in mind when looking at available houses for rent!

Steeper rent and utility payments

You get what you pay for, and a bigger floor plan often means a pricier rent payment. On top of that, the increased square footage of a house means more space to heat, cool, and light, which results in heftier utility payments. Speaking of utilities: because they don’t have the convenience of apartment management, house renters may wind up waiting longer than apartment renters to get any necessary repairs done.

Often less walkable

Typically, apartment complexes and high rises are located in the hustle and bustle of the city’s hub, while rental houses will be found in quieter, more suburban areas. While apartment dwellers often enjoy the convenience of strolling down the street to get groceries, see a movie, or eat at a restaurant, renting a house may mean you’re more reliant on a vehicle to reach any destination.

Fewer amenities

One massive benefit of living in an apartment complex is the ability to take advantage of the building’s amenities, like on-site workout centers and pools. In some apartments, tenants even enjoy luxuries like movie theaters, dog washing stations, and co-working spaces. When you rent a house, you don’t get access to these sorts of things.

May make roommates a necessity

The increased space, cost, and upkeep of renting an entire house may make roommates a necessity. Smaller apartments, however, are often easier to find, with no roommate required. For renters on a budget who don’t desire roommates, finding an apartment, such as a mother-in-law suite, is usually easier.

Less flexible for short-term renters

Because apartment complexes are well-oiled businesses, they’re pros at moving tenants in and out. You can often find short-term leases, and the smaller space means less packing and heavy lifting if you find yourself moving often. Landlords renting out houses, however, often only manage a few properties and are less inclined to cycle through tenants. Houses usually require longer-term leases, and you likely won’t enjoy packing up an entire house after only a brief stay!

Not all rental situations are the same, and there are some key differences between renting an entire house and renting an apartment. Want more space with less hassle? With Apartment Search, you can find apartments and condos for rent that offer many of the benefits of living in a house, without the downsides!


What’s a Mother-in-Law Apartment? Should You Rent One?

decorated apartment living roomYou’re on the prowl for a new place to rent in your city’s super competitive rental market — so you think outside the box! One of your coworkers mentions a mother-in-law apartment for rent by one of his neighbors, and what do you do? You come to ApartmentSearch, of course! Here’s the ultimate guide on what mother-in-law apartments are, their pros and cons, and when you should consider renting one of these properties instead of a traditional apartment.

What’s a Mother-In-Law Apartment?

While the name comes from the fact that many of these dwellings are built for aging relatives to live in the same house as their family, you don’t have to be senior citizens or an actual mother-in-law to enjoy the benefits of a mother-in-law apartment.

Often called a guest house or in-law suite, mother-in-law apartments are separate living units incorporated into a larger home. They can be built in a variety of ways — as a finished basement apartment, built as a detached structure on the same property, or as a converted garage. Although they have varying floor plans, most include a bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, and a separate entrance from the main house.

Suppose it is a secondary housing unit completely independent of the main house — meaning it includes everything from a kitchen to a bathroom — but is located on the same property. In that case, it may also be considered an official accessory dwelling unit (or ADU). This term is often used to describe being legally able to rent out that particular dwelling.

The Pros of a Mother-In-Law Apartment

According to a report by iPropertyManagement, around 36% of Americans live in rental properties, and the rental industry in the United States “has increased by nearly 3.4% since 2014, bringing in over $176 billion in revenue in 2019.” In other words, renting is a popular option for many people when it comes to where they live. But what are the benefits of living in a mother-in-law apartment?

Easy Maintenance

One of the top reasons to move into a mother-in-law apartment is that in most cases, you don’t have to worry about the responsibility of repairs, yard work, preventative maintenance, and the additional expenses that they might bring. The owners of the mother-in-law apartment — who live in the adjoining house — are typically responsible for property maintenance.

Potential Savings

Some say that paying rent for a mother-in-law apartment rent is sometimes higher than a mortgage payment. Still, they don’t consider homeownership expenses like property taxes, insurance, and higher utility bills required to maintain a full house.

With a mother-in-law apartment, all that’s required is a small deposit fee, renter’s insurance, smaller utility fees, rent, and depending on the lease, little to no monthly maintenance expenses. It allows you to save money for your future and remain flexible, as you don’t have a mortgage to tie you down.

Increased Safety

Because a mother-in-law apartment is often connected to the primary residence — or at least close by on the property — you have the security of knowing that if something happens, there are people nearby that can help you in the situation. While you have your independence, you also have people nearby to provide an additional layer of safety.

The Cons of a Mother-In-Law Apartment

Of course, living in a mother-in-law apartment does have a couple drawbacks, including:

Restricted Space and Style

When you live in a mother-in-law apartment, you have to make peace with the fact that the amenities and features you see are the amenities and features you get. There’s often no way you can add on to the property, and any decorating and renovation have to be approved by the homeowner before being undertaken.

This means you’re often restricted when it comes to personalizing your space. While some homeowners might be okay with you painting a wall, still others might require you to change it back when you move.

Delayed Repairs

While it’s great that you don’t have to fix that leaky dishwasher, it’s not so great to be at the mercy of the homeowner to get it repaired. They might be out for the night when the heater dies and not be able to get in touch with a repairman until the next day, leaving you in the cold and at their mercy.

Lack of Equity

While an advantage of living in a mother-in-law apartment is that you don’t have a hefty mortgage payment, the disadvantage is that you also don’t get any long-term financial benefits from paying rent. Your landlord can increase rent at any time, and while it can be your home, you won’t build any equity if you’re renting a property. With a mortgage payment, the interest and property taxes are usually tax-deductible. This isn’t the case with a mother-in-law apartment.

How Can I Find a Mother-In-Law Apartment for Rent?

A mother-in-law apartment isn’t going to be right for everyone. Some people will want the freedom to customize their living space without restrictions, while others are looking to build some equity in a way that renting a mother-in-law apartment just can’t provide.

But if you’re looking for an affordable option that gets you away from the crowded, often noisy traditional apartment scene and you’re not ready for a mortgage payment, a mother-in-law apartment is the way to go. But how do you find one to rent?

First, word of mouth is a great way to help you find a new place to stay. If you live or work nearby, ask people you know in the area if they know anyone renting out mother-in-law apartments.

Then there’s social media — specifically Facebook, which is useful for more than just finding out what your old friend from high school is doing for the holidays. Since Facebook ads are very local, you can get localized listings and a great idea of what things would be like in the area before moving.

And last but certainly not least, if you’re running out of ideas for good housing solutions in your area, visit ApartmentSearch to browse rentals by price, size, amenities, and more! We can help you find a mother-in-law apartment that provides you with everything you need.