While many view their apartment search as a chance to find a place to meet new neighbors and make new friends, some of us are apartment hunting to get away from it all.
And by “it all,” we mean other people. There are plenty of folks who value solitude and privacy as much in their apartment hunt as air conditioning and storage space.
The good news is, by knowing the right factors and variables to look for, you can find yourself that secluded dream apartment where you can shut the world out as much as you wish.
Communal spaces to avoid
For privacy seekers and introverts, how and where you are forced to interact with your neighbors might be a key factor in choosing an apartment. It may be best to avoid complexes and buildings that include a lobby or sitting area you must walk through to get to stairs or an elevator – this is a prime location for neighbor interaction. Same goes for public spaces such as activity rooms and pools. If you’re not planning on utilizing these amenities, save your money if your complex charges extra for these features.
The most social location in any multi-unit dwelling is the laundry room. It’s a good place to be in a confined space with your neighbors, whether you wish to or not. So it may be in your interest to look for an apartment with an in-suite laundry that’s large enough to meet your needs. Same goes for communal trash disposal rooms, an issue easily solved by finding a building with a trash chute right on your floor. And if you’re lucky, you can even uncover a rental where the mail gets delivered your right to your door so you can avoid cluster mailboxes.
Stairwells and end units
The actual location of your apartment within the complex is just as important for people looking for privacy. Shared stairwells are a terrible place to run into a neighbor you’re not interested in talking to, and being trapped in an elevator with them is even worse. Instead, try to find an apartment with a private exterior staircase to your unit or a first-floor unit with a door opening directly to the outside.
As well, end and corner apartments are great for privacy seekers. Most buildings have stairwells – often made for emergency escape but also regularly accessible – capping the end of hallways which are great for a quick skulk out the building.
The most advantageous feature of that corner or end unit is only sharing a wall with one neighbor. You have an entire side of your apartment with no noise creep, banging, television blare and overheard spousal spats. You can keep all that silence to yourself.
Windows and outdoor spaces
Balconies and porches are wonderful places to enjoy your privacy. A wide open space to stretch your arms and speak to nobody. But are you on display when you’re enjoying your outdoor space? While apartment hunting, walk out onto the balcony and determine if it’s possible for people across the way to see you, even from inside their apartment.
Trees out the back of the unit are great to stay secluded, but if you’re visiting the unit in the summer, don’t forget that those trees may be leaf-bare all fall and winter. End units and apartments that back up to empty spaces are helpful to ensure your privacy, but see if your next door neighbors can easily lean over their railings into your private space and start an unwanted chat.
It’s not just balconies that are a concern. When on your apartment search, check all the windows to see how easily a neighbor – or stranger walking by – can peek in on those rare occasions when you have not drawn the blinds. Even on an upper floor, an across-the-way neighbor can be an unwanted looky-loo even by accident, so be sure to investigate all angles.
Location, location, (secluded) location
Obviously, the most central factor in maintaining your privacy during the apartment hunt is where you look. Investigate the neighborhoods and subdivisions you’re looking in and get a feel for how sociable the people are.
Who is outside? Where is the park? How close to a commercial district is it? With a little research and a lot of privacy radar, you’ll find the perfect apartment to enjoy your uninterrupted peace and quiet.