If you’re renting an apartment, chances are you put quite a bit of effort into finding the right one. Shopping around for apartments takes time, even if you end up renting the first one that you find. So what do you do when you’ve signed the papers, moved in your stuff, and then gotten hit with renter’s remorse?
There are a lot of reasons you may experience regret about your new apartment. Perhaps the space that seemed so charming at first glance now seems small and cramped. Or maybe the roommate you thought would be a great fit is eliciting some unexpected red flags. Whatever the reason, renter’s remorse isn’t uncommon—more than two-thirds of renters experience it—but it certainly can be frustrating.
Signing a lease means that you’re locking yourself in to a particular apartment for a set period of time—whether you wish you hadn’t done it or not. The best thing you can do is work on getting past the remorse and seeing the positives of the situation. Here’s how.
- Clearly identify the problem(s)
Sometimes there’s a clear trigger for why you’re feeling renter’s remorse. Other times it can be difficult to pin down where your regret is coming from. But you can’t move past a problem if you don’t know what it is. Make a list of all the things that are causing you dissatisfaction with your living situation, including both the things you or your landlord can fix (like the toilet that won’t stop running at all hours of the night) and the things that you can’t (like the view of the dumpsters out your bedroom window).Identifying the source or sources of your regret serves a couple of key functions. For starters, it helps you hone in on those aspects that you do have control over in terms of making improvements. Even if you can’t come up with a clear fix, you may be able to arrange a creative solution that at least makes the problem more tolerable. Naming the problems also helps you put your situation into perspective. Is a view of some dumpsters really that bad, all things considered? Keep in mind that by nature of your apartment being a rental, you’re under no obligation to be there long-term. Identify the problems, come up with solutions as you can, and then acknowledge that some things will just bother you until your lease runs out at the end of the rental term, and that while there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s not the end of the world.
- Identify the things you like about your apartment
Unless you were in a hurry to just pick a place, any place, you likely chose your apartment because it had something to offer you that you liked. Whether it’s the price, the location, the amenities, the history, or any other positive aspect of your living situation, focusing on the positives will help mitigate the effects of the negatives. Make a list like you did in the first step, but this time, write down the things that you like about your rental. Once you start to really think about it, you’ll probably find that there is a lot about your apartment that actually checks off the right boxes for you.
- Talk to your landlord
Landlords are people too, and most of the time, they really do care if their tenants are unhappy. If you’re feeling renter’s remorse, it’s worth scheduling a time to speak with your landlord and voice your concerns. They may be able to help assuage some of your fears about your living situation or offer solutions to problems that you thought were unfixable. They may even let you reduce the length of your lease term or even get out of your lease entirely if you can help them find a new tenant. Ultimately, you’ll never know how your landlord can help you improve your situation if you don’t ask them. Once you have a clear idea of what your issues with the rental are, bring those concerns to your landlord and see if there is anything they can do for you.
- Resist the urge to continue browsing listings
As with most things in life, the grass is often greener on the other side. Even those who are satisfied with their rentals may start to feel regret if they continue to browse listings and see what else is available. Instead of driving yourself crazy looking at all the other viable routes you could have taken, nip this common driver of regret in the bud and stop the scrolling.If you really love browsing apartment listings (and truly, some people do), focus your search on other towns or cities, or look at apartments with price points outside of your budget. That way, you can still indulge your voyeuristic desires without adding to your feelings of remorse.
- Put your circumstances into perspective
Your situation might not be ideal, but it could almost certainly be worse. Renter’s remorse tends to stem from a misguided belief that you truly can have everything that you want at one time. More realistic, however, is the idea that in life, some things are going to be great and some aren’t. Looking at your rental circumstances through this pragmatic lens will help you re-situate your mindset into a more productive place. Because you might not be able to change your situation itself, but you can change your attitude about it.
- If your problem is roommate related, take steps to improve the relationship
Not-so-ideal roommate situations are a common trigger of renter’s remorse. Even if everything else is to your liking, having a roommate that you don’t get along with or who you have trouble living with for other reasons can put a negative spin on your entire experience. But you have to live with this person—at least until your lease runs out—so you may as well make the best of it.Identify what it is about your roommate and your relationship that is causing you concern. From there, you can figure out whether it’s something that can be fixed. For example, if the problem is that your roommate doesn’t hold themselves to quite the same level of cleanliness that you do, talk to them about it and see if you can come up with some basic guidelines, such as that each of you has to do their dishes within 24 hours, or that you take turns cleaning the shared bathroom. If it’s a roommate problem that you don’t think has a clear-cut solution, maybe you just have to figure out how to live amicably alongside each other without trying to force any changes.
- Focus on the end point
Rentals aren’t forever. In many cases, the best way to deal with renter’s remorse is simply to keep your eye on the prize—in this case, the end of your lease. Whether it’s six months away or a year away, you’ll get there eventually. And when you look back on your experience, you may realize it wasn’t even half as bad as you thought it was. The more you concentrate on the light at the end of the tunnel, the less time you’ll have for regretting the present. This probably won’t be enough on its own to completely minimize your regret, but in conjunction with the other listed steps it really can make a big difference.
In some scenarios, such as if your living situation is unsafe, you can take bolder steps to cope with your regret. Again, talk to your landlord about your options and see if there’s a solution that will work for the both of you.