If working from home didn’t become a widespread reality, I would without a doubt be paying less in rent. When you’re in an environment practically 24/7, you want it to be as nice as possible—spacious, filled with natural light (maybe paired with a nice view!), and free of major issues, like mold or mice. My previous apartment lacked most of that, so I decided to upgrade. My priorities—what I wanted versus what I was willing to pay for—shifted. And now that we’re going on year two of a pandemic, the priorities of other renters have shifted, too. That is to say, I'm not alone.
Many people who are currently looking to move apartments are prioritizing more space over cheaper rent, according to a recent RentCafé survey. They want “better deals with open-air amenities and more living space–preferably in the city they already live in,” the listing service found. This shift comes after renters focused on getting a lower price and safer place during the peak of the pandemic.
That doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is spending more money, though. “Luckily for renters, we’re still at a place where they can get more space in a new apartment for the same rent they’re paying in the current apartment,” licensed real estate broker Nyasia Casey—who showcases real estate listings on YouTube—tells House Beautiful.
Remote work paired with the current real estate market has been a driver behind that. Along with a bigger apartment—with more living space for a desk or an extra bedroom for an office—renters are on the hunt for natural sunlight and private outdoor space, though the desire for the latter has “subsided a bit now that people are more freely able to go outside and return to a sense of normalcy,” Casey says.
Another current priority for renters? A better location. “Without having to commute to an office, some renters want to live a little further away from the hustle and find quieter neighborhoods with larger spaces," Casey says. "Others finally see the opportunity to move into their dream neighborhood."
For renters in cities like New York, being able to walk to all of their desired hotspots—restaurants, grocery stores, friends in the neighborhood—is essential, Casey says. “They are willing to spend the extra money to forgo taking the subway.”
No one wants to spend more on rent, but as of late, more space and other priorities fueled by the pandemic and work-from-home life are taking over the desire for better deals. What will that look like next year? Only time will tell!
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