We Know What Renters Want – But do we Know Why?

When you were looking for a new apartment, you most definitely had some ‘must have’ features in mind – and probably more than a couple deal breakers too, amirite?

From the obvious, like a super convenient location, the right number of rooms and allowing your pooch to come along – to the outright bizarre and outrageous like gift wrapping stations, lawn chess, and rooftop pizza ovens – renters across the country are actually seeking all sorts of different amenities in their next place.

But what do renters really want in their new pad? And more interestingly, why?

Every day, hundreds of thousands of renters use our search tag feature to zero-in on the exact things they most want in their next place. We analyzed millions of their search tags to answer two questions: 1) Are there a few things that most renters really want or is it all over the place and 2) Do renters in different geographies want different things? The results surprised even us, from city to city and across the nation.

On a national level, we found that what renters really want are: 1. Parking, 2. In Unit Washer & Dryer 3. a Dishwasher.

Nothing too eye-popping here.

We all hate the frustration of finding parking, sharing laundry facilities with other neighbors and cleaning up dirty dishes. But what really jumped out at us was how much these preferences varied across some of our busiest rental markets.

When we isolated data from three RadPad cities – Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C. – and compared the results to each other and on a national basis, the disparities were all over the place.

Renters in Los Angeles indicated that a refrigerator was the fourth most important criteria, with 18% mentioning it specifically. However, across the rest of the country, a fridge is scarcely mentioned at all, appearing in less than 1% of renters’ searches.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 1.33.07 PMDo renters in Los Angeles have more of a need for a fridge than renters elsewhere? Probably not, as it has to do with a quirky aspect of California’s habitability laws.

In California, landlords are not required to provide the tenant with a fridge. Unlike laws in other states, refrigerators are classified amenities rather than necessities in Cali, meaning providing them is optional, hence the importance to a prospective renter!

In Chicago, renters highly value having access to a patio or balcony, with 21% of searches in the city mentioning it – compared to only 1% of searches nationally.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 1.35.04 PMAre the views of the Windy City and Lake Michigan such a strong priority for renters to take advantage of when everything isn’t frozen stiff? Or perhaps it’s the higher likelihood that Chicagoans are looking for apartments in taller buildings?

Michelle Rowlett, a RadPad renter in Chicago, shared a possible explanation for why Chicagoans love their outdoor spaces oh so much. “I love having friends over to hang out on my balcony. It seems like the summer flies by so fast here, so enjoying some cocktails outside while we can before it’s freezing is a huge reason why I need a balcony in my life,” said Michelle.

Nationally, 14% of renters indicated they wanted a gym; yet in Los Angeles only 3% mentioned it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 1.37.27 PMDoes the consistently mild L.A. weather make an indoor gym less important? Or maybe Angelenos are more likely to already have a membership to a gym somewhere else in the city?

43% of Washington D.C. renters want a pool, compared to 36% for Chicago, 26% for Los Angeles, and 18% nationally.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 1.39.13 PMWould you have thought L.A. residents would be more likely to want a pool as they have the weather to go with it? While D.C. is notorious for it’s sweltering summers, maybe District residents are searching for some relief from the recent heat wave. Whatever the reasons, folks in D.C. and Chicago definitely want to cool by the pool.

Take a look moment to look at the data yourself. Do you have a theory or think you know what features are popular in your city? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @RadPad or with #WhatRentersWant!

RadPad What Renters Want