New Construction Apartments vs. Older Buildings: Pros and Cons

Your current lease is about to expire and you don’t want to renew. So you’re officially on the hunt for a new apartment but can’t figure out where to begin. With all the choices out there it can be difficult to pinpoint what type of building best suits your life and your style and too many visits can really drag out the search. Conquering this first step prior to any in-person showings will save you time and energy. Below is a shortlist of common differences between newer construction and older buildings to help you narrow down your criteria and figure out what to tell your real estate agent.

Storage – If you’re looking for tons of storage and big walk-in closets than you’re probably better off with a newer build. Walk-in closets are starting to become standard options for today’s developers. People have more possessions, decorations, clothes, shoes, cooking tools, etc. then they did 100 or even 50 years ago. Earlier builds usually have one small closet per bedroom and kitchen cabinets that don’t go all the way to the ceiling.

Architecture – Folks that love the finer details like crown molding, solid doors, ornate railings, built-ins, and old glass windows should narrow their search to the older buildings. For many people, these details are the characteristics that make a space feel cozy and unique. If, on the other hand, these extras make it feel old, worn out and cramped then you’re better off with the modern design and simple clean lines of newer construction.

Floor Plan – Open concept is highly desirable in today’s market and has become a staple with today’s developers. The kitchen, dining, and family rooms are frequently one big space where everyone can be together. Older builds tend to have separate spaces for each activity. The older the building the more separation.

Windows – Long ago air conditioning was nonexistent so large windows in every room were a must for circulation and fresh air. Although you will find some newer apartments with larger windows you’re more likely to find a higher quantity of windows with an older building. Also, keep in mind the older the window the more drafts. This one is always a toss-up for me because I love the look of the older windows but like to be warm and toasty and save on my heating bills.

Furniture – This may seem like a strange thing to include in the list but taking your current furniture into consideration is a good suggestion. Sofas, easy chairs, and even mattresses are much bulkier than they were a few decades ago. Older buildings tend to have very small elevators (if they even have one), stairwells with cramped turns and narrow doorways. More recent construction will usually include roomy elevators, wide doorways, and higher ceilings. A great tip is to measure your largest pieces of furniture and store the measurements in your phone for easy reference when attending a showing.

Apartment hunting can be overwhelming and exhausting; narrowing down your criteria before making visits can shorten your search quite a bit. Write a list and think through each of these items carefully. Consider your daily habits and which of these scenarios provides the most comfort. Do high ceilings feel cozy and safe or claustrophobic? Spending a little time to review this list and giving it to your realtor will speed up your search overall.