I love looking at real estate. Even though we just bought our first townhouse, I still love seeing what’s out there in our price range in Dallas, searching for anything my parents might like once they sell their house in Connecticut, and even peeking at dream homes on Nantucket. When I lived in New York, I would scour apartment rentals for hours at a time. My sister is getting ready to move to Brooklyn and I’ve been practically bombarding her with online listings that fall in her budget. Honestly I’d start searching for apartments for my readers if I had the time! It’s probably no surprise that someone who loves to decorate as much as I do would find real estate super fascinating and even motivating.
I get a ton of emails from my readers asking how to find an apartment and how to decorate on a budget. I’ve written a few posts on these subjects (here, here, here, here, and here to highlight just a few!) but this week and next I’ll be partnering with rent.com to share my five must-haves for apartment hunting and favorite tips for decorating a rental. I know how hard apartment hunting can be which is why I wish I’d known about rent.com sooner! It lets you browse apartments in your city, schedule visits from their website, and even view floor plans so you can visualize exactly how you’d lay out your furniture or split the space with a roommate. I decided to play around with a budget of ~$1,500 and show some examples of what I could find in Dallas (New Yorkers, prepare to be a teensy bit jealous!).
Must-have #1: natural light.
My top priority when searching for a new place to live will always be finding a place with great light. Since I used to work from home, I spent way more time in my apartment than the average person and knew I needed to see the sun in order to feel inspired in my small space. I honestly would rather live in a seventh floor walk-up than a basement apartment! I love all the light pouring through the doors and windows in the kitchen in this listing and the bedroom in this one.
Must-have #2: location, location, location.
I spent my first year and a half in New York living on the Upper East Side. While my neighborhood was quiet and I loved living within walking distance of Central Park, I hated living far away from most of my friends and all my favorite restaurants. Eventually I saved up enough to move to the West Village and that’s when I really fell in love with New York. Of course you’ll have to make sacrifices to live at your preferred location, but for me it was worth cutting back on other expenses, giving up a little square footage, and living on a higher floor in a walk-up building to live in a neighborhood I loved. The apartment above is walking distance from Klyde Warren Park which would be perfect for taking Rory to the dog park as well as a quick drive to Will’s office!
Must-have #3: a standard floor plan.
Something I love about rent.com is that it gives you floor plans for all the available listings in a given building. Do you know how much time that would have saved me in New York?! There were so many funny little apartments in New York with triangular kitchens or half walls jutting across a living room… Those were a major no in my book. Every apartment is going to have a few little eyesores or things you’ll have to work around but being able to preview floor plans ahead of time should save you from major headaches like bizarrely shaped rooms or spaces where your bed would touch three of the four walls. Above is a sample floor plan from a building in downtown Dallas.
Must-have #4: amenities that are important to you.
Remember that you probably won’t “have it all” in any one apartment so you’ll have to prioritize which amenities are most important to you. Do you need a parking space if you can walk to work? Will you actually take advantage of those rooftop views? How often will you really swim in that pool? If you’ll actually use them, that’s great. The way I see it, you’re paying for every amenity in your building so you might as well choose the amenities that make sense for your lifestyle. I love how many buildings in Dallas have a gorgeous pool like this one or even a little dog park like this one!
Must-have #5: cabinet and/or closet space.
I know this sounds like such a silly, girly consideration but I’m telling you, closet space matters (especially if you’re moving in with a significant other). I was blown away by how many of the apartments we looked at in Dallas had walk-in closets and now I don’t think I could ever go back to the tiny hole-in-the-wall closet I had in New York. Whether it’s space for clothes, shoes, groceries, or extra sheets and towels, make sure there’s a place for it. This is another thing you can scope out in advance with a floor plan online! I love that the listing above even has a small pantry off the kitchen so you can really stock up.
Stay tuned for next week’s post on my favorite tips for transforming a rental! Just because your next apartment isn’t your forever address doesn’t mean you can’t make a few (temporary) changes to make it feel like home. I hope this will help those of you looking for a new apartment, decorating your current one, or just daydreaming about your next move!
*This post is sponsored by rent.com, a site I’ve handpicked to be useful for my readers. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Design Darling possible!