Furnished or Unfurnished Apartment? How to Make the Call

A furnished apartment will come with assorted furniture and kitchen equipment. Image: Summit Crossing, Cumming, GA

A furnished apartment will come with assorted furniture and kitchen equipment. Image: Summit Crossing, Cumming, GA

Whether you’re renting your first apartment or just moving on up, you might ask yourself a question that many renters face: Furnished or unfurnished? Furnished apartments are far less common, but it might be the right choice for you if you’re a student, a traveling professional, or you just don’t want the hassle of buying and moving furniture.

Furnished apartments usually come equipped with furniture, basic kitchen appliances and tableware, bathroom necessities such as a shower curtain, a washer/dryer set, and possibly a few other amenities. The exact items will vary depending on the landlord and what kind of place you’re renting. Here are a few pros and cons to consider before you decide if furnished or unfurnished is right for you.

Furnished apartments: The pros

1. Moving will be a breeze. If you’re a frequent mover, you definitely want to keep your stuff to a minimum. Renting a furnished place means you won’t own most of the big items in your place, and it’ll be easy for you to pick up and move on short notice. Bonus: You’ll never experience the joy of moving a couch up a flight of stairs.

2. You’ll save money on buying furniture. Be careful, though – furnished apartments often cost more per month than unfurnished places, so you’ll have to do the math to see if you’re really saving money. It might pay off in the long run to just buy your own furniture and rent an unfurnished place. But if you don’t want to own furniture, this is a way to get out of buying your own stuff, but you’ll still have a place to sit.

3. They’re good in a time crunch. Ideally, if you’re searching for a new apartment, you should measure your existing furniture and then pick a place that will fit your stuff. This can be a problem if you’re relocating on short notice, or if you’re moving across the country and can’t make the trip to see your new place in person before moving day. A furnished place takes the hassle out of moving in a time crunch – all you have to do is show up.

4. Sometimes you can get a shorter lease. Most furnished apartments won’t require a year-long lease, since they cater mostly to students and traveling professionals who don’t stay in one place for too long. If you’re not ready to commit to one place for too long, a furnished apartment might be for you.

Furnished apartments: The cons

1. Your rent and security deposit might be higher. Unlike an unfurnished apartment, when you rent a furnished place, you’re not just renting some empty rooms – you’re renting all the furniture and amenities that are in them. Your landlord spent money to equip that place, so of course that cost is going to be passed on to the renter.

2. You face a higher liability. In an unfurnished place, you might not get your security deposit back if you accidentally bust a hole in the wall or your kid draws all over the walls with crayons. In a furnished place, you have to consider the furniture as well. Did you tear the upholstery in the couch? Scratch the dining room table? That stuff doesn’t belong to you, so you’re going to have to pay to get it fixed. Better be careful!

Tip: Take a video inventory of everything the landlord provides in a furnished apartment before you move in. Take note of anything that’s broken. That way, you’ll have indisputable evidence if your landlord tries to charge you for something you didn’t break.

3. You’ll have no control over most of your décor. If you don’t like the couch in your furnished apartment, tough. You could go out and buy a new one, but you’ll have to figure out what to do with the old one, and you’ll have to make sure it’s OK with your landlord. You can hang art on the walls and add other personal touches around the place, but you won’t have complete control over the look of your apartment.

4. You’ll have fewer apartments to choose from. Furnished apartments simply aren’t as plentiful as unfurnished places. You won’t have as many choices when you look for a furnished pad, but they’re out there if you’re up to the task.

Have you ever rented a furnished apartment? What did you like or dislike about it?

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