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You’ve probably heard people say that you should rent in a “good apartment building”. But what makes a ‘good apartment building’ in the first place? What do you look for in an apartment building? These are multi-faceted questions but we will break down the factors to help you understand how to find, pick and live in a “good apartment building”.

1.  Location

The location of your apartment is extremely important. You need to pick a location after listing and then prioritizing your personal needs and lifestyle (i.e. work or school). A good apartment building should also be in an area with low crime rate. Consider these questions –

  • Do you want to be near your workplace or have easy access to retail and grocery stores?
  • Do you need to live near public transport?

You want to be in an area with a low crime rate. No area or apartment building is crime-free, but crime can be measured and you can look up crime rates historically by neighborhood.

2.  Well-Built

The apartment building should be well built – you don’t need to be an architect to figure out the basics of a well-built building.

  • Exterior should be visually appealing to the eyes. You can look at this yourself when visiting.
  • Specific sound control measures like concrete floors and ceilings to help with noise control. Check reviews for complaints of noise.
  • Large windows for natural sunlight
  • Large Apartment Units – The apartment doesn’t need to be the biggest on the block but it should be large enough to fit all your needs
  • Good safety features like bright night-time lighting and common entrances securely locked with a key or fob access
  • Exterior clean and free of external objects such as hanging electric meters, electric poles, water meters. These items can be a huge eyesore and not very fun to come home to. Another feature which sometimes can’t be avoided is window air conditioner units. These can be an eyesore too.
  • Are the interior doors solid core so that you can’t hear noises from inside?

3.  Well Maintained

A good apartment building must be well maintained. For instance –

  • Is the general area neat and clean? Do you see trash around?
  • Is the landscaping visually appealing?
  • Do you notice any pests or rodents around?
  • Do you see windows dangling or crooked light poles?
  • Is the exterior dirty?
  • Do you see trash in the hallways?
  • Are the hallways clean or are there items in the hallway and trash outside?
  • How is the trash dumpster area kept? It is a trash dumpster but apartment complexes that allow miscellaneous objects like chairs and sofas to be kept near the trash dumpster for long periods of time is generally a sign of poor maintenance and upkeep
  • Is the parking lot well paved?

You should get a feel of the exterior stuff just by keeping an eye as you drive into the building.

4.  Clean and Adequate Interior Spaces

The interior spaces of the apartment building should be as important as the exteriors. Consider these –

  • Are the corridors that lead to the apartments well-lit and clean?
  • Do you notice signs of peeling paint, graffiti, etc that compromise the aesthetics?
  • Is the apartment clean and tidy?
  • Does the apartment have enough natural light and ventilation?
  • Is the layout well utilized?

5.  Good Responsive Management

What Makes a Good Apartment Building | Apartment Management Checklist |

Be sure to ask these questions –

  • Does the apartment management respond quickly to maintenance requests if something goes wrong?
  • Is the management team easy to get in touch with?
  • Is there an emergency service number I can call in the case of an emergency such as no heat in the winter, no air conditioner in the summer, flood, lockout, etc. These are important items to consider.
  • Who shovels the snow in the wintertime?

6.  Amenities

A good apartment building should have amenities. This depends on your own personal preferences, but some popular amenities include –

  • Swimming pool
  • Clubhouse
  • Community room
  • Outdoor areas
  • Surveillance System
  • Balcony
  • Washer and Dryer On-Site or In-Unit
  • On-Site Parking

You can’t have it all, but hopefully the building has at least a few of these.

7.  Security Measures in Place

What Makes a Good Apartment Building | Exterior Security Camera |

In addition to just a good location (again no area is free of crime), one of the most important features of a good apartment building is a building that takes security seriously. Ask the following questions:

  • Does the apartment have a property-wide surveillance system to deter crime?
  • Does the apartment building have a well-lit parking lot?
  • Is there an intercom or buzzer to communicate with apartments?
  • Does the apartment have at least one deadbolt lock?
  • Does the apartment have automatic exterior doors that close and lock?
  • Has management posted signs regarding no solicitation and no trespassing?
  • Has management installed window bar locks on 1st-floor apartments?
  • Key change policy upon move-in.
  • And other important security questions to ask before leasing.

A good apartment building should enhance your lifestyle without forcing you to make compromises.

8.  Energy Efficient

A good apartment building can be energy efficient which is not only good for the environment but can reduce your utility bills. For example:

  • Does the building have good exterior insulation?
  • Are the windows energy efficient?
  • Is there a smart thermostat?

9.  Affordability

Affordability is key. It can be the best apartment building in the world, but you need to be able to afford it. When you compare apartment prices, don’t just compare price to price. Compare the rent per square foot. For example, if Apartment A is $1,200 and 500 square feet (that’s $2.40 per square foot) versus Apartment B which is $1,400 and 750 square feet ($1.86), then Apartment B is still a better deal per square foot.

10.  Continuous Improvement

A good apartment building is always improving and always communicating with its residents. Ask residents how the landlord is communicating and what types of new projects have been completed in the last 5 years. Ask how often they hear from the landlord and how responsive they have been to their requests.

As you can tell, not all apartment buildings are created equal. A good apartment building is quite a different experience, and is worth looking into. For further reading, see is a luxury apartment worth it?

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