We recently moved into a new rental home after an exhaustive search. Thankfully it wasn't my first rodeo and I went in prepared with this list of 10 things I wanted in a rental home to help facilitate and maintain a greener lifestyle.
The criteria for a perfect rental home can be vastly different to a permanent home. There are so many things that can't be changed in a rental, so you really can't say 'it's perfect... but...' because that 'but' could be with you for the duration of your lease.
Things like air flow, insulation, colour and natural light which have such a big impact on how we live in our homes are largely determined by the design of a building. So while you can recycle, reuse or up-cycle everything you own you can't just knock out a wall or add a skylight in a rental property, which makes it that much more important to choose a home that suits your lifestyle, your aesthetic and your climate.
10 things to look for in a rental property:
1. Close to public transport Most renters would look for a property that is close to shops, work and in an area that suits their taste, but not everyone considers how close they are to public transport services and bikeways. Being close to these services means you are more likely to leave your car at home and take the train.
2. Smaller homes Giving serious consideration to how much space you actually need can have some surprising results. You can reconsider so many other aspects of your life (furniture, energy, cleaning and clutter) when you take away unused or badly used space.
3. Abundant natural light Natural light adds so much to a space aesthetically but from a environmental view it reduces the need for artificial light, heating and cleaning.
4. Outdoor space I know that this isn't always an option for city apartment dwellers, but it is a priority for me. Outdoor space allows you to producing your own food which means less trips to the shops, organic food for your table and more importantly it extends your home life into the outdoors.
5. Hard surfaced floors Again this is something that will be strongly dictated by your climate, lifestyle and aesthetic but carpet requires so much more cleaning (vacuuming and deep cleaning) and hold more dust than wooden or bamboo floors. Hard surfaced floors can be cleaned without electricity and in a rental property carpet can be very hard to maintain.
6. Good airflow Good airflow isn't something that gets too much consideration in rental properties since it isn't always a logistical option. But if you can find a property that has lots of windows and lets you open it from front to back you will save so much energy on cleaning, air purifying and temperature control.
7. Well insulated A well insulated home makes it so much easier to limit your energy consumption. No need for heaters, fans or air-conditioning. Of course this is harder to achieve in some climates than others, but a well insulated home can make it easier to keep the heaters off in winter and the fans off in summer.
8. Open plan People have mixed feelings about open plan living but it aids so much in a greener lifestyle. Open plan apartments tend to have the best natural lighting (a couple of good windows can light an entire house) Good airflow (air flows from area to area without getting trapped in rooms) They are generally smaller than other apartments and they don't have many hiding spaces for excess clutter.
9. Neutral wall colour In small homes it is so important to add light and create a sense of space however and wherever you can. A lot of the time this means organising things creatively or de-cluttering but it can also means light, neutral wall colours. You can't always paint walls in rental properties and dark coloured walls can close a space in.
10. Water wise More and more Australian rental properties are becoming water wise and including water tanks in their design. This reduces water consumption by using collected rainwater for laundries, gardens and toilets.