Moving into a studio apartment can be a great way to save money on rent without getting a roommate or settling for a less-than-desirable neighborhood. You could save on your monthly rent as much as $924 in Denver, $867 in New York City, $500 in Los Angeles and $427 in Minneapolis by choosing a studio rather than a one-bedroom apartment, according to Rent.com median rental rate data for the first quarter of this year.
While saving money on rent is appealing to almost any renter, living in a studio apartment can be an adjustment for anyone who hasn't done it before -- but it's possible to find a studio apartment that suits your needs and comes at an affordable price. Here are five things to look for during your apartment search to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
1. Plenty of vertical space. A great rule of thumb of renters, especially in a small apartment, is to always think up. In a studio, you're going to have limited horizontal space, so you should look for an apartment with as much vertical room as possible. With high ceilings, your apartment will not only appear to be larger than it is, but you'll also have space to hang things.
You can make the most of your vertical space by installing shelves for additional storage or mounting your television to a wall, eliminating your need for a TV stand. Pick bookshelves or dressers that are tall rather than wide, which will allow you to maximize the use of your vertical space rather than your limited floor space.
2. Ample storage. Just because you're moving into a small and budget-friendly apartment doesn't mean you have to give up on storage space. In fact, you'll want ample spots to store your belongings, as it doesn't take much for a small space to look cluttered and disheveled. By keeping your extra items in a closet and out of the main living space, you will make your space look neat, organized and (you guessed it) bigger.
If you're downsizing from a larger living space, a few closets may not be enough to house all your stuff. If you don't have room for a certain piece of furniture in your studio apartment, but you're not ready to let it go forever, look for a complex that has storage units for residents. These rooms are frequently found in the basement or parking garages. You get assigned a space in which you can keep everything you aren't using at the moment.
3. Natural light. The brighter a room is, the larger it feels. By that principle, having plenty of windows should make your small studio apartment feel larger. In addition to the number of w indows, make note of the direction the windows face because that will impact how much light the apartment gets. If you face north or south, you won't get any direct sunlight. Facing east or west will guarantee a good amount of light (at least during the day).
Also make sure to buy curtains that do not block the windows when completely open. You want as much light coming in as possible to get the optical illusion of a large (well, larger) apartment. You can also amplify the natural light in your studio by hanging mirrors on the wall directly across from a window. It will reflect the light and create a brightening effect.
4. Full-sized appliances. A reduced living space shouldn't be an excuse for your landlord to offer mini-appliances. The studio apartment you rent should have a normal-sized refrigerator and stove -- especially if you enjoy cooking. If you can find a studio apartment with a dishwasher or washer and dryer, you're lucky, as those amenities tend to be less common.
5. Livable space. This final point is the most important: You should feel comfortable in the space. Yes, studio apartments are small, but you shouldn't choose to live in a place that makes you feel cramped. Make sure you have enough space for your bedroom area, a living area and a desk all within the main space of your studio apartment. Regardless of size, your home should feel like a home, not a cubby hole.
Niccole Schreck is the rental experience expert for Rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable apartment and provides tips on how to move.
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