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How to Find Furnished Apartments - Pros and Cons

By: Ashley Walter and Kimi Kaneshina
August 5, 2021

When you begin looking for an apartment, understanding all of the different terms, layouts, and jargon can give you a headache. While scrolling apartment listings, you may have seen some furnished apartment options. What does this entail?

What is a Furnished Apartment?

Fully furnished apartments are apartments that come equipped with items you need to live normally. However, the exact furnishings can vary from apartment to apartment. These can range anywhere from appliances to typical living furniture like beds, sofas, and dressers. 

If you find a real gem, the apartment might come fully furnished and decorated. Furnished apartment rentals have tons of benefits, but there are also some negatives to keep your eyes out for. Here’s everything rents need to consider before signing a lease for a furnished apartment. 

How to Find a Furnished Apartment

While finding a pre-furnished apartment can be challenging and time-consuming, it could take more time and money to search for the perfect furniture for a new apartment.

Here’s the steps we recommend you take when searching for a furnished apartment.

Determine Your Budget

How much can you afford to pay in rent each month?

This is one of the first questions you should ask yourself when starting your apartment search. What’s the best way to calculate how much you can spend on rent?

We recommend using the 30% rule. The 30% rule states that you should set aside 30% or less of your pre-tax income to cover housing costs, such as rent.

You can skip the math and use our rent calculator to determine how much you can afford to pay in rent each month.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

Now that you know your budget and know that you want an apartment that comes with furniture, the next steps are to establish more of your apartment priorities.

For example, are you looking for certain apartment amenities like a pool or community center? Are in-unit washers and dryers, dishwashers, and an on-site gym important to you?

Talk this out with your roommate, significant other, or jot these things down on your own.

Consider Your Commute Time

Outside of amenities, you should consider your commute when looking for a furnished apartment, unless you prefer the life of a super-commuter. Depending on your location, your commute time can vary.

For example, the average commute time for a Los Angeles resident is 31.8 minutes. However, the average commute time for an Austin resident is higher at 40 minutes.

Prepare for Furnished Apartment Tours

Apartment tours are the last step when it comes to deciding which apartment is best for you! By this time, you’ve narrowed down what you’re looking for in an apartment and where you want to live, now you can experience the fun part of finding your next dream home!

Tours are especially important for furnished apartments. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to examine the furniture and see if it matches your expectations and style.

During your apartment tour, it’s also important to be thorough. Double-check the condition of the apartment before committing to a lease agreement.

For example, if you see leaky faucets, dirty carpet, or cracks in the tile, bring these concerns up to your prospective landlord immediately after the tour.

Asking questions during your apartment tour is crucial. You can start with information about the maintenance, apartment amenities, and apartment management.

Applying for Your Furnished Apartment

The purpose of the apartment application is so landlords and property managers can determine whether you are a good fit for the unit.

Typically, a "good fit" will have a solid financial foundation as exemplified through your bank statement and credit score as well as high recommendations from previous landlords. If it’s your first time renting, you can submit your supervisors or colleagues as someone to vouch for how responsible you are.

If you don’t have the best credit score or no credit history, it is possible to rent with bad credit.

Look through your apartment application one last time before submitting it! Then you play the waiting game. If a landlord or real estate agent doesn’t get back to you right away, don’t hesitate to contact them.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

When you're planning to rent an apartment, the last thing you want is to be scammed!

Unfortunately, rental scammers have a high rate of success, with over $5.2 million in rental fraud losses reported by victims.

So knowing which strategies to employ against rental fraud can help you avoid falling prey to rental scammers.

When apartment hunting, remember to verify that you are speaking with the property manager or apartment leasing office. Never use cash or money wiring services, such as Cash App, Venmo, or PayPal. Whenever you make a rental payment or even a security deposit, you want to ensure that the transaction is re-traceable through your bank.

When’s the Best Time to Furnished Apartments?

When it comes to apartment-hunting, there are peaks and valleys on the best time to apply for an apartment.

Typically, if you want to save money, we recommend that you start your search in the winter months, apartment searches reach their lowest point in the fall.

If it’s more ideal to choose from the largest selection of apartments, you should start your search in summer when apartment searches peak just before the move-outs peak in August.

As move-outs increase, you'll have an excellent selection of apartments to choose from. In short, the best time to rent depends on your goals.

Pros of Furnished Apartments

Ready to sign the dotted line on a lease for a furnished apartment? Doing so comes with some awesome benefits.

1. Lower Upfront Costs

One of the best parts about moving into an already furnished apartment is that you won’t have to worry about extra upfront costs related to setting up your apartment. Finding an apartment is one thing, but renters have to quickly shift focus and think about furnishing their new place. 

And it doesn't come cheap. Buying things like a new bed and sofa right after paying a security deposit can be a big hassle. When your apartment comes furnished, you don’t have to include these costs into your budget. It makes for a cheaper first month of living costs and gives you extra money in your pocket. However, furnished apartments typically command a higher monthly rent. 

2. Easy Moving

Your moving day is already exhausting. If it requires moving heavy furniture, it could be daunting. If you are making a cross country move, lugging your own furniture across the states will be costly.

With a furnished apartment, this concern is mute. You don’t have to worry about moving any old or heavy furniture from your former apartment into your new one. See it as a way to use new home goods rather than keeping the old, and a way to make moving way less stressful.

3. You Can Still Decorate

Some renters may be concerned that renting a furnished apartment may not feel like their own. While this is a legitimate concern, you can still bring your apartment to life. Yes, the furniture will be out of your hands, but you can decorate the rest of your place how you want. 

Find decorations that go along with your new apartment’s furniture instead of wishing you had something of your own. There are plenty of ways to make your apartment feel like yours. The apartment likely only includes the essential furniture pieces. You can still spruce up with the non-essentials, like rugs and end tables. 

4. Perfect for Short-Term Rentals

Furnished apartments are perfect for people who don’t plan to stay in that one place for an extended period of time. Apartment furnishing requires a lot of commitment. You have to know that you’ll be able to keep your furniture if you’re buying high-quality pieces. 

If you’re unsure if you want to stay in the area long-term, or expect to move after a year is up, furnished apartments make a ton of sense. Whether you are temporarily for work or are unsure of the new city you moved to, furnished apartments make for great shorter leases.

The same concept goes for first-time apartment renters. If you are moving out for the first time, you probably don't own any furniture. A furnished apartment allows you to live comfortably and save up to furnish your next apartment.

5. Save Time and Reduce Stress

Moving can be stressful, this is a fact. Moving into an empty apartment and needing to furnish it right away adds another layer of stress. With pre-furnished apartments, say goodbye to all the stress that comes with furnishing an apartment. They'll come equipped with a lot of the things you’ll need to live comfortably, you’ll have less to worry about when you move in. Shopping is one aspect, but don't forget about moving and building furniture after purchasing it. If you are not particularly handy, this can be a big pain.

Cons of Furnished Apartments

Sure, moving into an apartment and not needing to do any furniture sounds great. But what's the catch? Here's what to consider.

1. Rent is Often More Expensive

Before you sign a lease on a furnished apartment, get a feel for the rental market. Compare the rental prices of furnished and unfurnished apartments. Furnished units typically command higher rent prices. 

The rental market, how much furniture you need, and how much you are willing to spend on furniture are all factors to consider. If a furnished apartment is an extra $100 a month, that's $1200 for a one-year lease agreement. Calculate an estimate of how much money you'll spend on furniture if moving into a non-furnished apartment. Will $1200 be enough to furnish an empty apartment? This is one way to look at it. 

2. Worrying About Damages

A huge concern for people in furnished apartments are the costs of damaging the furniture. Spilling wine on your own sofa sucks. Spilling wine on a sofa in a furnished apartment can result in you not getting your full security deposit back. This means you’ll have to take great care of the items and ensure that you’re careful. This may make you feel apprehensive, but you could also see it as a way to keep your new apartment clean. Before signing your lease, be sure to ask your landlord about the cost of potential damages to the furniture.

3. Quality of Furniture

Just because you’re moving into an apartment that’s already furnished doesn’t mean it’ll be furnished to your standards. The materials may be heavily used, damaged, or unclean. Be sure to check with your landlord to identify if the furniture was used in the past and, if so, how heavily it was used. This will give you a better idea of the state of furniture to expect. It's always a good idea to tour the apartment and get a look at the furniture for yourself. The included couch in may look great in photos of the living room but could be super uncomfortable.

4. You May Have to Downsize

If you have any furniture that you want to use from your previous home or apartment, you may need to consider getting rid of some of it for space’s sake. This is because since furniture is already provided to you, there may not be room for all of them together. If this poses a problem, try talking to your landlord and determining if they’d remove only some of the furnishings that you do not need. 

Is a Furnished Apartment Right for Me?

Furnished apartments are great for some, but for others, it may pose slight difficulty or conflict. Furnished or non-furnished, Apartment List has the perfect apartment for you.

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AUTHOR
Ashley is a freelance writer at Apartment List. In addition to her contributions to Apartment List, Ashley works with other real estate businesses and is currently earning her BA in English Writing and Journalism. Read More
AUTHOR
Kimi is a Content Associate and contributing author at Apartment List, helping renters find a new place to call home. Kimi earned her BA in Organizational Studies, Economics from Scripps College. Read More
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