Apartment Living: How to Solve 5 Common Problems

Some people love apartment living, preferring the proximity to urban areas, as well as the lack of maintenance expenses and liabilities that often plague homeowners. But anyone who has lived in apartments for very long knows that there are drawbacks to shacking up in a building you don’t own and sharing walls with your neighbors. Here are just a few of the problems you might encounter when renting an apartment, as well as some tips for how to solve them.

  1. Limited space. Not all apartments are small, but they’re bound to be smaller than the average home, and this could impact your living situation. There are, however, several ways to work with a small space to make it both functional and roomy. Smaller furnishings are a good place to start, although you should also consider convertible options (a sofa bed is great for a studio), as well as storage furniture like ottomans that work for seating and double as storage, beds that have drawers underneath, and tables that have shelving to store media, dishes, or other items. And don’t forget to think vertically; overhead space can help to clear the clutter at lower levels.
  2. Noisy neighbors. If talking to your neighbors doesn’t help to reduce the din, you might want to think about ways to sound-proof your apartment. Acoustic panels can help here, and they come in a variety of colors, sizes, and finishes. If you’re so inclined, you can even mix and match to add some visual interest to an otherwise boring wall space.
  3. Dingy surfaces. A deep cleaning couldn’t hurt, but when tenants come and go with little regard for upkeep, the issues could go beyond what you can reasonably fix with a steam cleaner and industrial strength cleaning solvents. In this case you should definitely talk to your landlord about the possibility of painting. If the walls are truly awful, he might spring for the cost of paint, but you’re likely going to get saddled with white or some other neutral hue. However, he may be willing to let you apply the color palette of your choice if you promise to re-paint in a color he chooses before you move out (he could always take it out of your deposit if you don’t). For the cost of a couple gallons of paint you can make any room look fresh and new. As for gross carpeting, remnants are not that expensive and they can be cut to size and held in place with double-sided tape, making them easy to remove when you leave if you want to keep them or your landlord insists they go.
  4. Ugly or mismatched appliances. Your landlord might not be keen to spring for new appliances, especially if all of them are still in good working order. But you may be able to convince him to spend a lot less simply replacing a few panels to create a look that is unified and updated. This will make the kitchen look much nicer for a lot less expense than replacing whole units. And if your landlord won’t do it, see if he’ll let you. A small expenditure in the kitchen could make your apartment much easier on the eyes.
  5. Fixture problems. When it comes to leaky faucets and flickering lights, you may find yourself having the repair vs. replacement debate. Unfortunately, your landlord may not allow you to make upgrades, and even if he does, it will likely be on your dime. So replacement might not be a viable option. As for repairs, it could take your landlord ages to deal with a toilet that won’t stop running, a faucet that drips incessantly, or a light that flickers. But you don’t want to shell out the dough for a plumber or electrician. So it’s probably in your best interest to pick up a home repair guide and a few basic tools so that you can deal with these issues on the cheap whenever possible.
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