High-end flooring, sleek stone countertops and stainless appliances can be mighty seductive – especially on a tour of a cleverly-staged “model” unit.

Depending on your needs, your lifestyle, your budget and your plans for the future, the short answer to the question is it depends. In the end, common sense (and your bank account) may win out over luxuries you ultimately deem wants and not needs.

In-unit laundry

While it may seem alluring to forgo a washer/dryer for the laundromat, the money you’ll save – if any – will be spent in hours lost. And even if you can afford to pay the cleaners to do your washing and folding, you’ll still have to cart it to and from. This one is definitely worth a reasonable uptick in rent.

Kitchen (and other) “essentials”

Before we get to high-end appliances, let’s talk basics. Some apartments offer lower rents for smaller kitchens – by this, we mean dorm-style fridges, two-burner stovetops and the like. Maybe it’s just you and one other person and you reason, as you note the lower monthly cost, “Hey, I can manage that.”


By forgoing the full kitchen, the money you save will end up spent on dining out and convenience foods – the mortal enemies of life on a budget. Don’t consider a full kitchen an apartment upgrade – it’s a necessity.

Fashion, however, is not. What you need are clean, usable countertops and appliances that work, so if you’re looking for apartment features where you can cut corners, favor utility over appearance and reap the financial benefits.

The same policy can be applied for features that include hardwood or upgraded laminate flooring, water or skyline views and bathroom upgrades such as snazzy counters or tile.

Secure parking

Is your apartment community in a big, busy city? If so, nearby on-street parking may not only be difficult to find, it leaves your car vulnerable to parking regulations, vandalism and theft. (You also may not like the idea of walking back to your apartment alone late at night.)

Lots within the apartment community – particularly those with assigned spaces – mean you’ll always have a place to park, though it will still leave you open to dings, scratches and exposure to the elements.

Some communities also offer garages. These not only serve to protect your car, but they also make excellent storage units and could be far less expensive than renting an off-site place to keep your things.

You can also call around to see if off-site lots offer better monthly rates than your apartment complex.

Usually, staged units will show off your potential community’s poshest features, so be sure to ask if there are units available without the upgrades, and if so, what’s the difference on the rent? For many renters, saving money is the most attractive amenity of all.

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