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Top Apartment Amenities: A Guide From Utility to Luxury

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

What Are Considered Apartment Amenities?

Apartment amenities are very desirable features offered to residents of apartment buildings. Some more standard amenities include dog parks, community gathering centers and swimming pools, while built-in convenience stores and "smart" amenities are becoming more popular daily.

How Do They Work?

Most amenities don't have a cost - or at least a cost that are disclosed to you. Some, like a pool, volleyball courts, fitness club, and yoga studios in the building, may impose a membership fee, but most amenities are reflected in your rent.

What Amenities are Popular in 2022?

The popular apartment amenities tend to change yearly as technology changes and residents' desires change. Some of the best amenities stay on the list from year to year, while others simply disappear. In 2022, outdoor and co-working spaces will be more popular amenities. Smart amenities like locks, thermostats, and access controls are also high on the desirable list this year, as are systems for receiving your packages. Pet owners always hope to have their companions with them, with additional perks like dog walking, dog spas or exercise spaces to make having them even more accessible. Finally, everyone always has, and always will, be looking for parking and transportation amenities. Residents want to park easily and, in big cities, want close access to mass transportation.

Electric car charging stations are one related amenity that is just coming into focus on the horizon. As more of us turn to electric vehicles, property management will have to begin to provide these facilities.

You can think of the various amenities in groups - in-unit, community, luxury - and other groupings. Some amenities can appear in more than one group depending, for example, on whether you consider in-unit laundry a luxury or an absolute deal-breaking necessity. Let's consider some of these groups.

In-unit Apartment amenities

In-unit amenities are those that belong to you and your unit. They may not technically be "in" your unit, but they are yours alone. Some of the most popular include:

  • Balcony or Patio - Having a balcony or patio lets you take advantage of the warm sunny days in your neighborhood and take your friends out with you. In some places, like the Midwest, your outdoor space may only be used for half the year, but in others, like Hawaii or California, you have a year-round asset

  • Storage space - Storage space is another of those amenities that can be either a luxury or a necessity. Minimalists don't have as much stuff as others and probably care less about space. Others whose wardrobe or book collection is essential to them may find storage a nonnegotiable amenity.

  • In-unit Laundry - Again, this one depends on your personality. Having once enjoyed the pleasure of an in-unit washer and dryer, some people would never live without it again. For others, loading everything up into a half dozen machines to quickly finish an unpleasant chore is the better choice.

  • Parking - Put it simply: if you own a car, you must put it somewhere. For those who live in cities or suburbs, you must put your car somewhere when you're not using it. Even if your building charges extra for parking, you still have to keep your car somewhere, and your building is more convenient and more accessible.

  • Smart amenities - Whether smart thermostats to control your heat and air conditioning or smart locks and smart access control to make you more secure, smart amenities are at the forefront of sought-after amenities.

Community apartment amenities

Other amenities don't go so much with your own unit as with the building. These communal spaces are known as community or communal amenities; some may be more important to you than others.

  • Community Grocery Store - For those who work, especially for long or unpredictable hours, having a store in your apartment building can be a real blessing. Many residents won't want to run out to shop every day but will appreciate the convenience of a store in the building that carries a lot of daily needs and emergency supplies.

  • Gym/Fitness Center - For many people, a fitness center, maybe even with fitness classes, is a nonnegotiable amenity. Accessing your gym from your apartment, probably at virtually any time of day, can be very important to the hard-working urban professional.

  • Game/Recreation center - A quick game of pool or a game of cards could be a cool activity for a group of friends to tackle together.

  • Swimming pool - Your pool can be indoors (better in the Midwest) or outdoors (more user-friendly in warmer regions) and may have an extra fee. Still, its relaxing exercise and easy availability is an essential amenity for many.

  • Sustainability/Community Garden - More and more people are looking for buildings that offer room to grow things. Whether saving the planet or improving your salads, a small garden of your own has become a very attractive plus in an apartment.

Luxury Amenities

And then there are those amenities that make you feel pampered and make the building you're looking at go beyond excellent to perfect.

  • Business Center - Even if you are being called back into the office, having a business center in your building can make those after-hours assignments a little easier. Plus, if you're still entirely WFH, the business center can make many things easier in your day-to-day work.

  • Hair and Nail Salon - Having a salon right there, for those whose professional lives make their time short, can be a time-saver.

  • In-unit Restaurant - Of course, the restaurant isn't in your unit (though it may deliver). It's in your building and can make eating something better than a fast-food burger a lot easier.

  • Movie Theatre - With the growth of streaming services, in-building theaters are one of those amenities that are fading in popularity. However, they can be an excellent location for a watch party on special occasions.

How do these impact your building?

Amenities may be nominally free or may have a separately listed cost. Either way, you pay for them expressly, or they include them in your apartment rent. Thus, when looking at apartment communities, think about which ones are worth their presumed cost to you.

Cost or Fee of Apartment Amenities

Some buildings don't offer you the option to pick and choose. These buildings impose an amenity fee that covers the cost of all amenities provided by that unit. By charging everyone these fees, the building can negotiate from a position of strength with the service providers and is likely to get you a better deal. Your task is to look closely at the amenities you're getting for that set fee. On the other hand, many landlords will simply include the fee when calculating the per unit rents.

Design and Look of Premium Amenities

A building's amenities can impact its feel and appearance. A building with a fine restaurant, a well-run community store, and other luxury amenities will look like a luxury building, increasing the owner's ability to charge premium rents. In contrast, a building with a satellite dish and a clothesline on every balcony gives a different impression.

Impact of Perceived Value by Residents

A building's prospective residents and each apartment resident will subconsciously judge the value of the building daily. As an owner, keeping that judgment and perception positive is critical.

  • The community grocery stands out because of convenience. The community store is convenient but can also be critical in emergencies. A store that carries ice cream and first aid supplies can make almost any prospective resident happy.

  • Potential residents can see themselves shopping here before they sign the lease. - If your building's store is attractive and welcoming, apartment tours will include it and lead potential occupants to see themselves taking advantage of its presence frequently.

  • Existing residents are steps away from all essentials, which has a massive impact on resident satisfaction. - Current residents will use the store more often the longer they live with you. Its convenience and the essentials and extras it offers can help keep current occupants happy as well as keep them as residents.

  • Existing Residents are steps away from all essentials. This can have a major impact on overall resident satisfaction. Over time the ability to cover all their needs just steps from their front door becomes entwined in their daily lives and this can potentially play into the resident's rate of renewal year after year.

Increase in Real Estate Value

All of these amenities increase the occupancy rate of a building and thereby increase its value. Monthly rentals can continue to grow with contented residents who appreciate the amenities offered in their building.

Which Amenity should you be looking for?

Ultimately, the decision as to what amenities to look for comes down to lifestyle. Each of us wants and needs different things from our home and environment, and the best building for each person will be the one that meets the most of those needs and the most important of those needs.

Utility vs. Necessity

When considering given amenities, consider whether each is essential or just useful. If you use a laundry service and don't want to change, an in-unit washer and dryer won't matter that much to you. On the other hand, if you keep strange hours and don't always have time to shop, having a well-stocked, convenient community grocery store where you can grab food or even something already prepared will be a precious amenity for you.

Owner or Renting

Owners think more of units as homes and want amenities that match home ownership and long-term value. Renters, in contrast, are most often looking for convenience and hotel-like services. Whichever group you fit in, it will have a significant impact on your preferred amenities.

Where to Find the Best Amenities for your Needs?

Most apartments, especially larger urban buildings, now have websites where you can view all the amenities available in that building. Apartment aggregators that list many apartments can make comparing units even more straightforward. Again, it comes down to what's important to you. If pet amenities and a community store where you can buy last-minute cat food are essential to you, then that's the building you need to look for.

What Can Urban Stores Offer?

Urban apartment building stores can be small "mom and pop" operations offering a wide but not deep selection of foods with perhaps some prepared foods. Or, as urban living changes, they can be the anchor store of a building featuring a major grocery chain. Both offer convenience and value, depending on what tenants are desiring.

An urban store can change how urban residents shop. It can bring quality and convenience to apartment residents and allow easy shopping for food and beverages. The urban community store can offer apartment residents a robust amenity, combining service, value, and convenience and, by doing so, enhance the experience of all the other amenities in a building.

An outstanding community store should always be one of your top apartment amenities.

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