Here’s a snapshot of what’s out there:
For the recent graduate
Many of today’s recent graduates are accustomed to a different caliber of living than those of us who were lucky to have a dorm AC unit.
New student housing units are loaded with high-tech amenities. While smart technology isn’t the norm — at least not yet — more apartment owners in the mainstream market are leaning into this trend.
Transportation, roommate preferences and even dining habits may factor into your housing decision. For those who don’t want the added expense of a car, more communities in urban areas are exchanging parking space for living space. A micro-apartment may be a good fit for individuals who want a break from living with a roommate and who are willing to give up a little square footage. There are also rowhouse and townhouse options, where you can split the cost with several roommates but still have a space of your own.
For the young professional
According to a 2015 Pew Research study, today’s young professionals are the most well-educated generation yet — but this comes at a steep price.
Still burdened by student loans, millennials make up a significant segment of the apartment market. Even as they progress in their careers and their debt becomes more manageable, many are still opting to live in apartments. Known for job- and city-hopping, millennials tend to enjoy the freedom that renting offers. Between a continued education, social and political causes, travel, and an affinity for unique cultural experiences, today’s young professionals spend less time at home, drawing them to the easy convenience of maintenance-free living, pet concierge services and more.
Are you a minimalist with a travel itch? Get the basic necessities with a micro-apartment and free up more money for travel, experiences and charitable giving. Co-living is also an increasingly popular option. It provides a little more space — albeit, shared space — while still keeping expenses relatively low. The standard five-floor city walk-up also caters to this group, and today an expanding menu of amenities tailors the experience to the individual’s unique needs with custom community apps, bike storage and tools, electric charging stations, ride-share pick-up/drop-off posts, wellness classes, and more.
For the family
For the growing family with kids — and maybe even a pet or two — there are several options. Looking for a space with all the amenities and a sense of community? You may want to consider a multi-bedroom unit, offering a suburban feel with the convenience of apartment living. With this model, you have a pool for the kids, an easy-access exercise room to fit in a workout and maintenance-free living. This could be convenient when you’re juggling soccer practice, ballet recitals and parent-teacher conferences and may not have time or desire to mow the lawn or to replace a broken water heater.
Want more bedrooms, living space and a yard, but with the flexibility to move as needed for schools and jobs? Consider a single-family rental and avoid being tied down with a mortgage. Already have a home, but trying to balance a long commute and overnights in the city? Short-term rentals require minimal commitment and provide an extra level of flexibility for the professional spending weeknights near work and weekends at home.
For the empty-nester
If you’re looking to downsize — or perhaps more appropriately, right-size — ask yourself: What’s my vision for this stage of life? For years, you have had many factors to consider: kids, school systems, jobs, etc. As you head into retirement, take a step back and reflect.
Do you want to minimize upkeep and maintenance while putting away more money for travel? A traditional-style one-bedroom may be the best fit. Interested in splitting time between different locations based on the weather and where the kids or grandkids may be? Try a short-term rental until you’ve settled on a more permanent rhythm. Ready to live the comfortable life with myriad wellness, social and cultural options at your fingertips? There’s a plethora of options available from communities with state-of-the-art fitness centers, yoga classes, in-house chefs, vegetable gardens, group parties and activities, concerts, film screenings and more. You may also want to consider a mixed-use community with shops and restaurants right downstairs.
Whatever lifestyle or preferences you identify with, commit to finding your true fit. Your home is a significant part of who you are. To live your most authentic, successful life, it’s important that your home reflects and supports your unique values and needs.
Robert Pinnegar is president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, headquartered in Arlington, Va.