Top 10 Money-Saving Apartment Amenities
By jkrasin, Community Contributor
With rents increasing as much as nearly 10% from a year ago, today’s renters need to choose wisely to make sure they’re getting the most bang for their buck. To help tenants keep housing costs from breaking their budget, here are 10 apartment amenities that can save money each month:
1.) An apartment gym: While this is one of the most common luxury apartment amenities, it can also save renters the most money, noted Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management Corp., which manages more than 27 communities in the Chicago area. “Gym memberships can cost upwards of $100 a month, so having your gym included with your rent is a significant savings,” said Pittro. “Plus, it saves time and gas not having to travel there.”
If an apartment community doesn’t offer an on-site gym, ask about a complimentary membership to a nearby gym. For example, at Two Itasca Place, owner and manager Marquette Cos. gives each new resident a one-year membership to the nearby Eaglewood Golf Club, which includes use of the club’s fitness center and indoor pool.
2.) A business center: Cut utility costs by doing away with your Internet service provider, and look for an apartment with a business center, instead. With the rise in people working from home, this amenity has gained popularity in recent years. Not only do they provide Internet access, but also computers, printers, and sometimes conference rooms, too.
Northbrook, Ill.-based Prime Property Investors (PPI) owns two Chicago-area apartment communities with full-service business centers, Deer Valley Luxury Apartment Homes in Lake Bluff and The Arbors of Brookdale in Naperville. “Our business centers are appreciated by a variety of our residents, from casual online browsers to professionals who work from home,” said Barbara J. Gaffen, co-CEO of PPI. “But it’s especially nice for those renting their first place as they won’t need to invest in their own home office set up.”
3.) Parking: Renting a parking space can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 in the Chicago area, so finding a rental home that includes parking in your monthly rent can reap considerable savings.
At one of Marquette Companies newest communities, Randall Highlands in North Aurora, attached two-car garages come with each rental townhome. The community is currently pre-leasing for deliveries in early summer. “Our future residents will love this feature not only from a financial standpoint, but also because it will give the townhomes lots of additional storage,” said Laura Milliren, marketing director for Marquette Companies.
In addition to free parking for all residents, PPI communities Deer Valley Luxury Apartment Homes in Lake Bluff and The Arbors of Brookdale in Naperville also offer access to additional off-street parking for guests. “It’s a nice perk that our residents appreciate,” said Gaffen.
4.) Resident perks: Future residents of Wheaton 121, a luxury apartment community opening later this summer in downtown Wheaton, will be able to save money from developer Morningside Group’s V.I.P. Program. The developer has partnered with local businesses to give residents discounts and free products at area shops and restaurants. “Not only does this save our residents money, but it is a benefit to the surrounding businesses, too,” said David Strosberg, president of Morningside Group.
Other communities, including those managed by RMK Management Corp., host free social events for residents, such as cooking classes, dancing lessons, wine and cheese gatherings, and movie nights. And both Deer Valley Luxury Apartment Homes in Lake Bluff and The Arbors of Brookdale in Naperville, which are owned by PPI, provide a host of special perks for residents like discounts on food deliveries, furniture rental programs and discounted premium cable TV services.
5.) An on-site community room or party room: Hosting a birthday party, bridal shower even a knitting group at a restaurant can be expensive. Instead, residents with onsite party rooms have access to the space for a nominal fee. At K2, residents can pay $125-$150 to book the club room for a private event. And most of today’s apartment community rooms include a kitchen, so residents can opt to have an event catered or save money by preparing their own food.
6.) Car sharing service: Renters can forgo a car payment and car insurance and look for a property with a car-sharing service, like Zipcar®, instead. Chicago-area luxury apartment communities with on-site car sharing include K2 in the West Loop, Parc Huron in River North and Central Station, coming soon to Evanston.
“Chicagoans are always looking for ways to simplify, so it’s no wonder our city was named the number three city for car sharing by Walkscore.com,” said Randy Fifield, vice chair of Fifield Cos. “Having this great service within the building makes it especially easy not only to save money on buying and insuring a car, but to skip the hassles of ownership and maintenance, too.”
7.) Grilling area: At many luxury communities throughout Chicagoland, foodies can grill for free at BBQ stations. No need to spend money on a grill, propane or charcoal – just bring your favorite foods and enjoy. In the city, this popular amenity is available at Fifield Cos.’ K2, where residents also enjoy cabanas and outdoor seating for dining al fresco. And in the suburbs, grilling stations are available at many of RMK Management Corp.’s communities including Regency Place in Oakbrook Terrace, as well as at Morningside Group’s Wheaton 121 in Wheaton.
8.) Specialty amenities: Today’s luxury apartment communities are offering a menu of unique amenities that are not only convenient, but also complimentary. For example, pet lovers will appreciate the dog-washing station that will be available at Wheaton 121. Residents there can also save their quarters by using the community’s car wash and tire filling station, too.
Cycling enthusiasts will love the bike kitchen at Fifield Cos. K2, part of K Station in the Fulton River District. It will offer storage for 200 bikes, space for making repairs, and a vending machine that can dispense tire patching kits and minor repair parts. And as an added convenience, the bike kitchen provides direct access to Kinzie Street, which is part of the 170 miles of protected bike lines in the city.
There are even amenities geared toward the youngest renters, like the recreation space adjacent to the fitness center at Glenmuir in Naperville, an RMK-managed property. “Play spaces are popular with parents of young children, and can cost $10 or more per visit for admission,” noted Pittro. “So parents see it as a great value-added for the community, and love that it’s attached to – and completely visible from – the fitness center.”
9.) Guest suites: Accommodating overnight guests can become costly for renters, especially if they feel the need to rent an apartment with a spare bedroom for their visitors. Instead, renters should look at apartment communities that offer fully furnished one- and two-bedroom guest suites for around $100-$250 per night, providing a more convenient and less expensive alternative to renting a larger unit. “Some clients would otherwise go from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment to allow for guests. The guest suites are essential when you consider, for example, an additional annual cost of $6,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, compared to the cost of using a guest suite 10 times a year for a total of $2,000,” said Galvin.
10.) Hiring an apartment locator service: They say time is money, and both can be saved by using a luxury apartment locator service. At no cost to the renter, locator services provide in-the-trenches knowledge of the best money-saving amenities, pricing and concessions available. “We know the downtown rental market like the back of our hand and can guide renters to their best value, saving them lots of time and thousands of dollars in rent,” said Aaron Galvin, managing broker at Luxury Living Chicago. Many luxury apartment communities enlist the services of apartment locators.
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