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The 10 Worst Things About Renting (And How to Deal with Them)

updated Mar 11, 2020
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

I just got the chance to see a friend’s new house, and the conversation during the visit turned to owning vs. renting. True to the “grass is greener” maxim, we each had bad things to say about our current situation. But while I complained about my white walls and tiny kitchen, her comments about the best parts of renting (namely, the fact that I’m not on the hook if the A/C breaks) gave me a little extra impetus to enjoy not owning a home for at least a little while longer.

Yes, there are a lot of bad things about renting, but there are just as many ways to turn it around and make the most of your apartment.

#1 You can’t put your own mark on your space.

Depending on your landlord, paint could be out of the question. But there are other ways to inject your personal style into a space. Cover up what you don’t like, add in lots of things you do, and know that nothing says “this is mine” quite like a monogram.

10 Ways to Dress Up a Rental Like You Own It
→ 7 More Ways to Make a Rental Your Own
10 Ways to Customize a Rental
→ 5 Easy, High-Impact Rental Decorating Ideas
→ 10 Good Tips for Renters to Feel at Home

#2 Rental kitchens just suck. Period.

I’m not going to argue with that. In every rental I’ve ever lived in, the kitchen left something (style, space, a place for the cutting board) to be desired. But big trays, some utensil holders and a little paint can battle a lot of bad kitchen problems.

10 Ways to Be Less Frustrated with Your Rental Kitchen
Pimp My Small Kitchen: 10 Cheap, Renter-Friendly Improvements
Renovation for Renters: 10 Ideas for the Kitchen
7 Ways to Rescue a Rental Kitchen
15 Ideas for Removable, DIY Kitchen Backsplashes

#3 Rental bathrooms suck, too.

You might think that the bathroom would require pricey and permanent renovations to change the space, but there’s a lot you can do for a short time to add storage or cover up ugly tile.

10 Ways to Customize a Rental Bathroom
→ 10 DIY Ways to Rescue a Rental Bathroom
8 Products to Rescue a Rental Bathroom
5 Ways to Deal with Ugly Bathroom Light Fixtures

#4 Mail is a pain.

I’m not sure what’s worse: Having packages held hostage by a limited-hours leasing office, or having boxes stolen when they’re left on a stoop. Thankfully, by planning ahead you can avoid these renter mail pitfalls.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

#5 White walls are boring.

Yes, sometimes. But they don’t have to be. Colorful accessories have a lot to do with it. And with lots of light, white walls look bright and clean, not boring. Start looking for photos of white-walled rooms that you like and try to figure out what the homeowners have done to make it go so right.

7 Real-Life Examples of White Walls that Work
→ 5 Ways to Add Color to Your Home this Week
Renters’ Inspiration: Gorgeous Rooms with White Walls from our Tours

#6 Rental appliances are a grab bag, and sometimes they’re terrible.

There’s not a huge incentive for a landlord to upgrade appliances each time a new model comes out, so you might be left with an ugly avocado fridge. The secret here is to learn how to (temporarily) hide what you hate.

#7 There’s never enough lighting (and the fixtures are often ugly).

If you’re finding that the overhead fixture in the living room isn’t quite enough for what you need, you can always supplement it with floor or table lamps. Accessory lighting is better for ambiance, anyway.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

#8 Outdoor space is minimal.

Just because you don’t have a yard doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy dining outdoors or growing a garden. Knowing a little bit about what plants thrive in certain conditions and thinking about how you want to use the space will turn even a small balcony into a lush retreat.

#9 There’s never enough storage.

Pantry? Walk-in closet? Maybe if you’re royalty. Rental units are known to lack in storage, but you make do with what you have. Temporary wardrobes, bookshelves and out-in-the-open garment racks can make myriad rental storage sins disappear. And when all else fails, there are always storage units.

Smart Storage Lessons: 10 Ideas from Small Spaces
→ Living Without: Closets
→ Storage Solutions for Apartment Kitchens
→ Small-Space Bathroom Storage Solutions
8 Tips for Using Rental Storage Units

#10 You may be “blessed” with wall-to-wall carpeting.

Maybe you love carpets—they do feel nice under foot—but they have a dated quality, can be hard to keep clean and may not jive with the look you’re trying to create in your home.

How To Deal With Wall-To-Wall Carpet Woes
→ Punch Up Bland Carpet with Area Rugs
Living Rooms with Rugs on Carpets

Re-edited from a post originally published 7.15.2014 – cm