With the rising costs of renting an apartment, finding an apartment within your budget may seem impossible. However, renting a garage apartment is often an affordable option to finding a great place to live without breaking the bank. But they might not work for everyone.
Before signing any rental agreement on a garage apartment, here are some things to consider:
It's no secret rent is increasing across the country. In fact, according to a 2021 Apartment Guide report, average rent prices have increased in more than half of all U.S. cities. Renting a garage apartment, though, is generally less expensive than traditional apartments.
While an apartment community owner wants a good return on investment, the homeowner usually wants to make a small income to help cover mortgage expenses. As such, they set a rental rate lower than those of traditional apartments.
According to the U.S. Census 2020 Characteristics of New Housing, the median size of multifamily units built for rent in 2020 was 1,075 square feet. A garage apartment, though, could be less than half that size.
The average one-car garage is 240 square feet, with the average two-car garage measuring 400 square feet. If the garage apartment is over the garage rather than in the garage itself, it's possible it could be larger. Likewise, if the garage accommodates three or more cars, the garage apartment likely will be larger. These generally are in the minority of all garage apartments.
When looking for an apartment, you expect them to have a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area. With a garage apartment, though, the kitchen may not have a refrigerator, dishwasher or stove. Also, you may not have a bedroom. Instead, there often is one open room with kitchen features in one corner, a bed in another corner and a couch in yet another corner.
In addition, not every garage apartment has central heating and air conditioning. It may not even have a window air conditioner or space heater —something you may have to supply yourself. A garage apartment also might not have wiring for cable, telephone or Internet services, which you may have to pay to get installed.
While traditional apartment communities feature numerous neighbors, a garage apartment just has the homeowner and a few surrounding neighbors. If the garage apartment comes with its own private entrance, that can add to the level of privacy you will have.
However, if you have to go through the landlord's home to access your apartment, that could be uncomfortable. If you have a nosy or chatty landlord, that could reduce your privacy, too.
At apartment communities, renters usually have at least one guaranteed parking spot. That often isn't the case with a garage apartment.
You may have to park on the street, or it's possible you may not have space to park a car at the apartment at all. This also limits how many visitors you can have if there's no parking available to them.
Apartment communities often come with a range of amenities such as a fitness center, swimming pool, tennis courts, laundry center and more. Unless the garage apartment is in a subdivision that offers these same amenities, you'll have to skip them. Even with these amenities, you might not have access to them because you are not the property owner.
Of course, the upside is you aren't paying extra for these amenities. That means your rent could be less expensive than in a traditional apartment.
It's not uncommon for apartment communities to pop up in high-traffic areas of town surrounded by retail, restaurants and busy streets. Many people thrive in these environments, but if you want something quieter, renting a garage apartment could be a great option.
Plus, you may find a garage apartment in a great neighborhood where you can't quite afford to purchase or rent a home. With a garage apartment, you can still enjoy the neighborhood without spending a lot of money to live there.
When living in an apartment community, if you experience a problem such as a damaged window or a leaky faucet, a call to the property manager usually results in a prompt repair. When renting a garage apartment, you may not receive the same level of response if you have a trouble spot in need of attention.
It's important that your rental agreement contains specific provisions on how and when your landlord will respond to reported problems, so you aren't left waiting for a repair.
Renters insurance is essential for every renter to protect their personal belongings as well as protecting them against any liability for injuries or property damage.
However, not every insurance company offers renters insurance on garage apartments. If you plan on renting a garage apartment, you may have to jump through some extra hoops to get the coverage you need.
When renting an apartment in an apartment community, the property owner is required to have insurance on the building itself. Your renters insurance only covers the contents.
Likewise, a homeowner should have specific insurance coverage on the garage apartment that goes beyond regular homeowners insurance. Ask for a copy of the policy to ensure the property is adequately covered just like a traditional apartment.
If you decide renting a garage apartment is the right choice for you, you may have difficulty finding one to rent. They are not as readily available to find as traditional apartments, so be patient during your search.
Ask family, friends and co-workers if they know someone renting a garage apartment. Neighborhood Facebook groups also are a good source for finding any available garage apartments in the area you want to live.
There certainly are pros and cons to renting a garage apartment, which you should review before signing any rental agreements. But for many renters, they could be the affordable, ideal choice for their next home.