Reading Between the Lines: Deciphering Apartment Ad Lingo

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Apartment Listings

Whether you’re doing it online or through an agency/real estate service, apartment hunting is always a chore. Aside from out-and-out lying about size, condition, and location — and doctoring photos — people peddling apartments seem to have their own definitions of certain words. For that reason, you’ll find that you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you translate this lingo before viewing the property.


The biggest lies are about size — and size matters. Take a retractable tape measure to all apartment viewings, and come prepared with an estimate of how much space your own belongings will take up.

Converted 2-Bedroom

This means that it was probably a 1-bedroom or studio just last week. A large curtain was the biggest conversion factor.

Cozy, Cute, and/or Charming

Very small, like pantry or walk-in closet small. Small can be great, but if you see a listing like this in a big city, you should read it as “we’re renting out our walk-in closet.”


Either a bathroom or kitchen combination. If it’s charming and unique, there are probably no walls separating the rooms.


Don’t confuse this with an actual loft with two separate floors that you can stand up on. Navigating a crawlspace on your belly is much closer to “loft-style.”



The drywall over the bathroom showerhead finally got a cheap new coat of paint.


Chances are, it’s the most wonderful apartment you’ve ever seen. It’s also way out of your price range, so only go see it if you feel like crying or undermining your self-esteem.

Recently Renovated

If it weren’t for the smoke smell that nearly knocked you over and the soot marks all over the building’s exterior, you’d never know there’d been a major fire here.

Exposed Brick

Someone with anger management issues just moved out…right after they put their fist through the wall and exposed the building’s “history.

Vaulted Ceilings

No one knows how that single 17-foot high section of ceiling came to be, but hey, it doesn’t look half-bad.

Partially Furnished

The landlord couldn’t make it down the four flights of stairs to the trash with the one-cushion sofa with two missing legs, so it’s all yours!

New Appliances

“New” is a relative term. A refrigerator might be new to the neighborhood, but the door still won’t shut because of the ice buildup in its tiny freezer compartment.


15 Minutes from Downtown

Without traffic. Unless you can fly, there’s no way you’ll ever make it to downtown in less than an hour.

East (Insert Town Name)

Rather than say the neighborhood is questionable, the apartment location has a direction like East, West, etc. before the city name, meaning you’ve probably never been in this district beforeand for good reason.

Across from the Hospital

You’ll not only be close to help when you (probably) get mugged, but you’ll also be privy to the blaring of sirens 24 hours a day.

Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

Even if you know where it’s coming up from, you might want to see what and who finally lands there before you sign a lease.

Emerging Neighborhood

Emerging is even scarier than up-and-coming. That creature in Alien emerged from that man, and thousands of moviegoers didn’t sleep for weeks afterwards. Check out the town’s history, as well as the history of neighboring districts, before renting a moving truck.

Fun and Safe Neighborhood Close to the BEST Restaurants and Bars!

“Fun” is a given in a good restaurant and bar locale. It’s only when the fun ends that the safety aspect comes into play.


“Accessible” is a lot different than “friendly.” When the closest subway station is six blocks away and the city bus stops running at 6 P.M. on weekends, you carless friends will probably fall by the wayside.

Easy Walk To (Stores, Supermarkets, Etc.)

It’s an easy walk because the land is flat. But when those retailers are eight or ten blocks away, it’s not necessarily a fun walk — especially on the way home when you’re laden with bags.


Steps Away from the River/Lake/Beach

Of course it is. That’s why all those people are pitching tents next door on long weekends. You’re in the middle of nowhere!

Basement Storage Available

Sure, this sounds good, but what’s the cost and where’s the basement? If it’s a four-foot-by-four-foot space for $75 a month and it’s in the landlord’s sister’s house on the other side of town, just throw out the things you thought you needed to store.

Rooftop Access

Oh, what lovely scenes that conjures up! But if it’s actually a lovely venue, you can count on people you don’t like monopolizing it. If it’s just a plain old roof covered with tar-paper and an actual hot mess in warm weather, access is pretty much insignificant.

2 Responses to “Reading Between the Lines: Deciphering Apartment Ad Lingo”

  1. May 10, 2018 at 10:09 pm, la casa de papel saison 3 vf said:

    Mais a-t-on vraiment besoin d'une troisième saison ?


  2. June 12, 2018 at 4:14 am, Lucille said:

    Fabulous article. I laughed out loud at the 'emerging neighborhood' definition.


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