How to Compare Apartments: | A Beginner’s Guide (Part I-Value)

Home | Blog | How to Compare Apartments: | A Beginner’s Guide (Part I-Value)
Share

Are you starting the apartment search? Overwhelmed with options, feature sets, and amenity lists? You’re not alone. Most people do not have an effective and systematic strategy for comparing apartments. There are five considerations:

  • Value
  • Affordability
  • Location
  • Lifestyle
  • Reputation
Check out our Apartment Comparison Visual

This part (Part I) of our guide deals with Value. Part II deals with Affordability, and Part III with Location, Lifestyle and Reputation.
There are a myriad of ways that rents are being quoted. If you look at rent quotes across different buildings, you will see some rents include all utilities, other only some (i.e. only electric and water), and yet still some rents do not include any utilities.
Here is a simple step-by-step process you can use to compare apartment value.
You need to compare apples to apples. The best way to do this is to compare rent per month per square foot. The formula for this is:
(Apartment Rent – Included Utilities)/Square Feet = Cost Per Square Foot
Don’t be intimidated. This is really quite easy to do. We just need to figure out the true net base rent of your apartment (i.e. the cost of your apartment less any utilities). Follow these simple steps:

  • Write down the monthly rents and square footage of the units you’d like to compare.

Comparing Apartments Price Chart

  • Write down the utilities that are included. Let’s assume that for West Mill and The Lofts, the utilities are as follows:
    • West Mill – Gas ($100), Electric ($75), Water ($25)
    • The Lofts – Gas ($100), Electric (included), Water ($25)
  • Identify the approximate value for the included utilities. Tip: You can get a rough estimate simply by looking at what other apartments in the area are charging. For example, we estimated that living at The Lofts would cost about $75 per month for electric.

Comparing Apartments Chart Two

  • Next, subtract the sum of the included utilities from monthly rent
    • West Mill – $1,000 less included utilities ($0) = $1,000
    • The Lofts – $1,400 less included utilities ($75) = $1,325
  • Divide this new true base rent comparison by the total square footage of each unit to get a cost per square foot comparison.
    • West Mill – $1,000 divided by 800 = $1.25 per sq. foot
    • The Lofts – $1,325 divided by 1200 = $1.10 per sq. foot

When we compare apartments with this systematic approach, we see that The Lofts (listed at $1,400) is actually more cost effective per dollar than West Mill (listed at $1,000).
Make sure you compare apartments of the same unit type (i.e. one bedroom/one bath to one bedroom/one bath).
Pro Tip [Advanced]:

There are more sophisticated formulas and approaches to use, but this should give you a great foundation. For example, you can “add” to base rent all non-utility monthly extras that are collected by your landlord (these are things like: parking fees, management fees, and activity fees). We call these “Non-Utility Extras.” No deduction to rent should be made if these fees do not exist (i.e. are included). If you stop and think about it, this makes sense. If some landlords are collecting money for items that other landlords are including, we should add those fees to the base rent in order to compare apples to apples. The formula for this is:

(Apartment Rent – Included Utilities + Non-Utility Extras)/Square Feet = Cost Per Square Foot

In the same scenario above, if West Mill charged $50 per month for Parking and The Lofts did not charge anything, the results:

West Mill – $1,000 less included utilities ($0) plus Non-Utility Extras ($50) = $1,050

The Lofts – $1,400 less included utilities ($75) plus Non-Utility Extras ($0) = $1,325

With this approach, we see West Mill becomes increasingly expensive. Applying the final step of the formula and dividing the results by square footage:

West Mill – $1,050 divided by 800 = $1.31 per sq. foot

The Lofts – $1,325 divided by 1200 = $1.10 per sq. foot

Know someone who can benefit from this advice?
Check out our friendly visual on the basics below.

There is more to comparing apartments than just comparing financial value. Check out Part II – How to Compare Apartments: A Beginner’s Guide (Affordability).

Looking for an Apartment in Northeast Philadelphia? Our Luxury Apartment Communities are Ranked #1 in Customer Satisfaction. Click here to Schedule a Viewing.

Apartment Comparison Infographic

Looking for an Apartment in Northeast Philadelphia? Our Luxury Apartment Communities are Ranked #1 in Customer Satisfaction. Click here to Schedule a Viewing.


Share

Categories

Finding an Apartment

i

Leasing an Apartment

Living in an Apartment

Moving Into an Apartment

Neighborhoods

Things to Do In Philly

News and Announcements

Featured Posts

Related Articles

What is the best apartment finder?

What is the best apartment finder?

What is the best apartment finder website? Some of the most popular apartment finder websites include Apartments.com, Apartmentguide.com, and Zillow.com. Virtually of all of these sites have both a website and mobile app allowing you to search for apartments across...

read more
10 Things to Do Before Renting an Apartment

10 Things to Do Before Renting an Apartment

If you're planning to rent an apartment, it can be a good idea to create a checklist of points to make sure you don't regret your decision in the future. Set Your Budget… And Stick To It First thing's first, decide how much money you can afford to spend on rent. This...

read more
Skip to main content