How to Decipher Vague Apartment Listings

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Most people have limited time to tour apartments before moving, so they rely on apartment listings online or in the paper to help them decide which apartments are worth seeing. Other people moving across country or across the globe can’t even tour an apartment before signing the rental agreement and rely entirely on listings. Therefore, it’s important that you’re able to decipher even the vaguest of listings.


The word “spacious” is entirely subject to one’s interpretation, so don’t decide on an apartment based on a vague word like this alone. If you can’t get the landlord to give you exact room dimensions, you’re unlikely to get a really roomy apartment. The apartment could simply be more spacious than other apartments or it could have a lot of floor space-until you add your furniture.

Another caveat with the word “spacious” is that if the apartment truly is quite roomy, you may be looking at an older apartment, which was probably constructed 20 to 30 years ago or more, before the norm became to build more apartments in a single complex. An older apartment can be both a positive, if the floor space is important to you, and a negative, if the apartment may need more work done.

“Convenient to…”

“Convenient to Downtown,” “Convenient to the Interstate” and “Convenient to [Insert Popular City Destination Here]” are popular terms on apartment listings. This may not seem vague at first glance, but it really is. “Convenient” doesn’t automatically mean “you can walk there from your front door.” Most locations can be reached from any point within any given city within 20 to 30 minutes by car or even 60 to 120 minutes by bus and the vague definition of “convenient” covers any and all of these. Instead, use an online map tool to see how far important locales are to the apartment.


“Rustic” is a word taught to anyone in charge of selling a house or renting an apartment that’s fairly old compared to what else is available on the market. While it’s possible the apartment overlooks an area with a lot of trees, if you’re looking at apartment listings, it’s more likely to be closer to town than in the middle of the countryside.

“Bonus with Rental”

A promised “bonus” could really be anything at all, so don’t let “bonus” be an enticing word on the apartment listings you go over. Some bonuses can be truly beneficial, like a discounted rate for a year or a free month of rent with a signed year-long lease agreement, but other bonuses could just be a small waived signing fee or a basket of fruit upon your arrival.

Besides the unknown quality of this “bonus,” consider, too, that any apartment that needs to advertise bonuses is probably having a difficult time finding a renter. This raises questions about what could possibly be wrong or unlikeable with the place.

Before you sign a rental agreement or tour an apartment that’s a waste of your time, understand the basic language of apartment listings to decrease your chance of getting stuck with an unpleasant apartment or an apartment that doesn’t otherwise fit your needs. Vague listings mean you’ll have less power to argue with the landlord if the apartment is less than you expected.

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