What Renters Want in an Apartment

Not all renters fit into conventional assumptions about their demographic. MHN went to the source to find out what people are looking for in a space.

Multifamily owners and operators often tell us what they believe their renters want in their apartments and in their communities, based on some assumptions of their target demographic. But not all renters fit this criteria, especially now that the renter pool is expanding its renter-by-choice demographics and many retiring baby boomers are opting to downsize.

Going right to the source, MHN interviewed several renters across the country to find out what they like about their current apartment and community, why they chose this particular spot and whether or not they would renew their leases.

Retirees Linda and Paul Lafond were looking for a quiet place in the country to escape the noise of the city, while April Bounds needed more room for her expanding family of pets. Alberto Maldonado wanted more space for his growing children and had already formed a strong relationship with his existing on-site manager, who had been promoted to another community. In Maldonado’s case, it was precisely this positive experience with manager Kiki Aguilar that led him to another R&V Management community.

Despite the differences in situations among the residents we spoke with, they all seemed to appreciate the convenience that apartment life had to offer and were content with the amount of space provided them. At the same time, the amenities offered were often seen as sealing the deal.

Convenient in the Country

Linda and Paul Lafond

Our apartment: This unit has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We would have liked a bigger kitchen, but as it works out, there are fewer steps between things and the two of us have been able to work together in the kitchen without stepping on each other’s toes. We changed the cabinet meant for groceries to hold our pots, pans, etc. and we use the hall closet meant for linens for our canned goods and dry goods. The dining area is fine since we only use it when we are entertaining. We happened to have two bar stools, which fit fine by the small bar between the dining area and kitchen.

The living room is very roomy. We use the master bedroom and bathroom as a TV room/bar/guest room combo, and it’s worked out great. The second bedroom is used as a workout room, computer room and a second guest room if need be. The end room is our room. It is the quietest and has cross ventilation. It’s opposite the second bathroom, which is also very handy. The TV room/guest room has a very large walk-in closet, as well as another closet.  The workout room has a good-sized closet with plenty of shelf space, which Paul uses for his tools and other equipment. Our room also has a large walk-in closet. Both bathrooms have plenty of closet space and counter space, and both have garden tubs.

Why we moved: I was retiring and wanted to move to escape the traffic. We like the country setting with all the conveniences. We also decided we wanted an apartment without stairs.

How we found this property: We went by it many times going to the grocery store.

What we were looking for and why we chose this property: We were looking to get away from traffic and congestion [and to downsize]. We like the location and found the floor plan suited us. We particularly like the front porches.

First impressions: Initially we spoke to Jesse, who answered all of our questions and showed us the model. She showed us the location of the apartment that would be opening up. We liked the fact it had a lot of grassy area between the parking spaces and the building, providing us with privacy.

Why we would renew: We will likely renew. The apartment above us is empty so unless we get a neighbor who is unacceptable or the rent is grossly increased, we’ll be here for a while.

Our favorite amenities: Amenities were not part of our choice, although our grandchildren did use the pool a couple of times. We were more concerned with cleanliness of the property and of the apartment itself, as well as the proximity to shopping since we’re always at the grocery store.

Other perks: The community offers pool-side pizza and monthly pizza deals, as well as summer parties the leasing office puts together at the pool. The community held a Toys for Tots drive and took pictures with Santa at Christmas.

—Reported by Nicole Goodness

Spacious and Pet-Friendly

April Bounds

My apartment: I really like the floor plan; it’s very spacious. There’s lots of parking and a nice little backyard. There’s not anything I’d change.

Why I moved: I was in a one-bedroom, because it was just me and my cat, but then I got a puppy so I moved into a townhome, because she’s very active and we needed more space! Our townhomes have washers and dryers in them, which is amazing!

How I found this property: I heard about it when I was in college here just down the street at Wake Forest, and I liked the area.

Why I chose this property: I really like most things living here. Gas and heating included in rent is awesome, and there’s no worrying about trash. There’s a really beautiful pool and a nice little picnic area for parties. Most people here are pretty friendly, and there’s an awesome maintenance staff.

My favorite amenities: Definitely the pool, the picnic-grill area and the landscaping.

—Reported by Alina Patel

Building Relationships

Alberto Maldonado, his girlfriend and his children

My apartment: We’re in the two-bedroom, two-bath. Both bedrooms have walk-in closets. The high ceilings are nice. I’m about 6’5 but it feels really spacious. I also like the fireplace. I never thought we would use it, but we ended up using it and
it’s nice.

Why I moved: One of the reasons was that my kids were just a little younger at my former place, but I was looking for a bigger place as they got older. Kiki was my resident manager at my former place (Oro Vista Villas, also managed by R&V); she was a huge factor as to why I moved here.

How I found this property: I had just barely signed a renewal lease. About two to three months into it, [Kiki] sent a flyer saying that she was being promoted to Casoleil. When my lease expired at [Oro Vista Villas], I paid Kiki a visit.

What I was looking for and why I chose this property: The property was beautiful. The apartment was what I was looking for in terms of being a little bigger. We did go look at other places, but when it came down to it, it was ultimately the relationship we had established with Kiki that brought us here.

First impressions: I walked in and everything was in really good shape. The carpets had been changed, even though it wasn’t time for management to change them. That was really nice.

Interactions with maintenance: A water faucet broke and was shooting out water in the kitchen area. Maintenance came out really quickly and was friendly and did what they had to do. But they also checked on the smoke detectors and changed some of the batteries for me, and then wanted to know if there was anything else they needed to take care of. They’re really friendly and approachable.

Would you renew? I moved here in August of 2010. I signed a 14-month lease, the max that they allow. If my lease was up tomorrow, I would definitely consider renewing.

My favorite amenities: The swimming pool area is really good. It’s a big pool and there are a couple of barbecues nearby. Also, we love the washer and dryer. And, there’s a garage. We didn’t have that at the other place; I can park my vehicle indoors and have some storage space as well. The biggest thing for me here is the gym. I’ve probably lost about 35 pounds since I’ve been here.

Other perks: The community participates in USMC Toys for Tots and Back to School Operation Home Front for Military Families.

—Reported by Joshua Ayers