Are All Apartment Buildings the Same?

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Are all apartment buildings are the same? No, not all apartment buildings are the same. Even if at first glance you think apartment buildings “look the same”, they vary greatly based on quality of construction, in-unit apartment features, maintenance, service and more.

16 ways apartment buildings differ:

  1. Construction (Quality)
  2. Internal Unit (Quality)
  3. How Apartments are Prepared After Previous Tenant Moves Out
  4. Communication
  5. Greenery
  6. Service
  7. Safety Measures in Place
  8. Size
  9. Entrance Type
  10. Amenities
  11. Location
  12. Building Upkeep
  13. Parking
  14. Quality of HVAC
  15. Energy-Saving Features
  16. Affordability

See below for details on each of these.

1.   Quality of Construction

Just like there are poorly built houses, the same is true of apartment buildings. The quality of construction includes everything from façade and appearance to the materials used during the building process. Some questions to ask and observations to make.

  • Is the exterior free from eyesores like water meters electric meters, and poles?
  • What sound control measures are in place?
  • Is there enough natural light coming through the windows?
  • Are there balconies for extra space?
  • Are the windows energy efficient so as to minimize my electric bills?
  • Do the interiors and exteriors withstand the test of time or look worn out?

2.   Quality of the Internal Unit

You need to look carefully at the quality of the internal unit (both cleanliness and features). This may include things like eat-in kitchens, walk-in closets, bathtubs, dining rooms, and more. Privacy is also a factor. Are the rooms built for privacy, this is especially important if you intend to share with roommates. Are the doors made of solid core materials so you don’t hear your roommate?

clean apartment prepared

3. How Units are Prepared After Previous Tenant

In some apartment buildings (better managed buildings) great care is taken to prepare apartments after ‘turn over’ (i.e. after the previous tenant leaves and you come in). This should include re-painting all the walls, professionally cleaning carpet and floors, checking all appliances, and more, but many buildings take short cuts; they do a superficial touch up of walls, cleaning and general preparation. Ask how the apartment units are prepared. Many renters forget to consider this.

4. Communication

Communication can make all the difference between a great apartment building and an average apartment building. Sometimes it’s not because management doesn’t want to communicate, but other times it’s because it’s difficult. It is hard to pro-actively plan communication of all on-going projects with residents, while simultaneously resolving maintenance requests and renting new apartments. So sometimes communication falls to the side.

A common example would be management is planning a re-paving of the parking lot, but they forgot to tell all residents until the day before. Now residents must remove all their cars and find alternate parking. Had this been communicated with enough notice, perhaps residents would have moved their car to a friend’s house or made other arrangements. Good communication with residents is priceless, but rare to find. Many renters forget to consider this.

landscaping apartment complex

5. Greenery

Landscaping and greenery is another incredibly important feature that differentiates apartment buildings. There are apartment buildings that invest almost nothing in landscaping, and other apartments that have beautiful immaculate grounds. In addition to just making you feel better about your home, good landscaping can also reduce the amount of noise, cool the area naturally, prevent flooding, and make a good impression on your family and friends.

6.   Service and Maintenance

Things break – that’s normal. But some apartment buildings differ in how long they take to fix it compared with others. Naturally, you will want an apartment building that looks into any issues as quickly as possible so that your life can return to normal with minimal interruptions.

7.   Safety Measures in Place

Safety is another factor that will vary between buildings. No one can guarantee safety but here are some things to consider –

  • Are there surveillance systems around the building and parking lots?
  • Are there deadbolts on doors?
  • Are the keys changed between tenants?
  • Is the building in an area with high crime or low crime rates? Again no area is ever crime free but historical crime rates can be measured and you should look them up.

8.   Size

The next thing is the apartment size. Some apartment buildings feature smaller apartments, while others have larger, sprawling units. This is a huge factor that helps people make a decision between living in one apartment building and another. Looking to compare apartments on value, check out how to compare apartments guide.

9. Entrance Type

Another difference between apartment buildings is  ‘entrance type’. Is there a private entrance (where you can walk directly into your apartment), a semi-private entrance (where you share the hallway with only 4 or 6 other units), or common-hallway building where there is one or two main entrances and perhaps a common elevator. This is a personal preference for the entrance type you prefer.

pool apartment building

10.   Amenities

Some apartment buildings come with resort-style facilities like a swimming pool and clubhouse. Other apartment buildings may not have any amenities.

11.   Location

Location. Location. Location. The best apartment buildings usually have great locations that are near to grocery stores, highways, entertainment centers, outdoor recreational centers, places of worship, restaurants, cafes, and markets.

12.   Building Upkeep

Another big factor is how well is a building is maintained and managed. Some buildings have better maintenance than others, so be sure to look around to see how well the premises are managed. Here are some things to consider –

  • Is the building well landscaped?
  • Is the paintwork still good or does it look worn out?
  • Are common areas like hallways and lifts clean and maintained?
  • Is there trash on the exterior grounds?

Some buildings will be better maintained than others.

13.   Parking

Parking again will depend on the location. Suburban apartment buildings will have more parking availability than inner city, downtown locations. But some apartment buildings have problems with parking (i.e. not enough parking spaces), and some do not.

14.  Quality of the HVAC

Many tenants fail to consider this but it is important. Some apartment buildings have central air while others have ‘window air units.’ Among the benefits of central air include more consistent temperature, programmable thermostat, better visual appeal, and more space. Moreover, some apartment buildings have very high energy-efficient HVAC systems, which means your monthly utility bills could be lower.

15. Energy-Saving Features

Another overlooked factor is energy-saving features within the apartment. This may include insulated roofs, insulated windows, solid core doors, and good quality exteriors. Not only is this important to lower the footprint on the environment, but it can help keep your utility bills lower as well. If you choose to live in an energy-efficient apartment, it is very likely your overall costs will be lower.

16. Affordability

Some units are more expensive than others because of factors like size, quality, and location. Decide what you can afford before narrowing down your choices.

At the end of the day, no two apartment buildings are the same, and there are ‘better’ apartment buildings than others.  Now I’m sure you understand how different each apartment building can be from one another. You need to decide what is important to you based on your lifestyle, and whether a luxury apartment building is worth it.

Last Updated: May 18, 2021

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