We might think of renting as something you do to get through your wild 20s. That couldn’t be further from the truth though. Right now, a significant number of American families are renting their homes.
This, of course, makes it really difficult to settle down and transform your home into somewhere you and your family feel comfortable. If you can’t even paint the walls how are you supposed to grow an affinity with a place? When you know you’re moving out in six months, it can be hard to see the point.
But that doesn’t mean you and your family need to live out of suitcases or accept college-apartment level interior design choices.
In this article, we’ll cover how you can make your rented home more comfortable for your family, from clever design choices to astute financial planning.
Invest in the right protection
Ask any renter and they’ll tell you making a home physically comfortable is only half the battle. You need to make the right financial choices and be smart about the relationships you build to find comfort in a rented space.
If you come out of a rental contract with the feeling you’ve been robbed it won’t just leave a bad taste in your mouth, it’ll make it harder to find your next place.
There are two key things all prospective renters should look out for. First, check your deposit will be held in a registered deposit protection scheme. This is a legal requirement in many countries, but rogue landlords have been known to keep the deposit for themselves to make it easier to charge astronomical fees for damages at the end of a tenancy.
Secondly, you should look into protective schemes such as tenant insurance coverage. While you probably want to minimalize outgoing costs, make sure that your possessions are protected in the event of accidental damage or worse during your tenancy (check out Duuo’s guide for more details). When a landlord is involved, these repair fees can get complicated and expensive, so having some kind of coverage to help you out is essential.
It’s always worth establishing a strong relationship with your landlord. While you may not want them micromanaging your home life, having their email and phone number to hand will go a long way to solving breakages in the house and improving the relationship to the point where they’re more lenient.
Find a way to add your own touches
Okay, now that we’ve got the serious stuff out of the way, let’s talk about inventive ways you can dress up your home to feel more comfortable in it.
Renting a furnished house or flat can often feel like an extended stay in a hotel. The decor can be cheap and mismatched. You can feel like a stranger within it, uneasy about inviting friends and family over.
While 99% of rental contracts will forbid you from making major changes, there are plenty of small things the average renting family can do.
Using art to cover unpleasantly colored walls and bring a room to life is a great first step, with an increasing amount of landlords accepting nails over tack. Likewise, a well-placed rug or blanket can make an ugly floor feel like a New York loft and bring new life into couches that have seen better days.
Tenants don’t have much power when it comes to decoration, but there is always some room for leniency. Take your chances when they come and add little changes when you can’t make big structural ones.
Make the most of outdoor spaces
If you’re blessed with a garden or a balcony you’re already one step closer to a more comfortable renting experience as a family.
We know how difficult it can be to entertain ones cooped up at home, so having an outdoor space is like an extra room for them to play and get creative in.
What’s even better about outdoor spaces is they’re harder to do significant damage to, and landlords are often happy for them to be altered in ways they’d prefer interiors were not.
In the summer months, your garden can become your living room. A space for toys and games, helping to keep living spaces and kitchens decluttered.
Speaking of the kitchen, a great small change you can make to feel more at one with a rented home is to make a small vegetable garden (this Sarah Raven guide has good pointers). Living off the land isn’t easy (or necessarily the best way to feed a growing family), but it’s hard to argue with the sense of achievement and growing relationship with the land your home is literally built on.
Plants are a great source of comfort and can really bring life to a home. When the colder months hit and you’re forced to close those doors and windows, move your house plants inside and make use of them to decorate your living spaces. Houseplants breathe life into a place and can be a quintessentially ‘you’ piece within a rental home.
While we’ve recommended additions and small flourishes you can make throughout the home, there’s just as much joy and comfort to be found in minimalistic living.
It’s easy to accumulate tons of junk when you’re constantly moving house and having to find new ways to make different spaces feel like home. This is especially true when you’ve got growing little ones who constantly need new clothes, toys, and tools.
However, making a conscious effort to reduce your possession count and survive with the minimal amount of clothes, kitchenware, and other household goods is a great way to prepare for your next move. It makes packing and unpacking easier and, should you choose the right adaptable items, much easier to make new spaces feel like home.
Comfort is a state of mind, that’s why having a handle on your tenancy agreement is just as important as investing in the right furniture. Hopefully, these tips will help you carve out a space for your family on the rental market, and make your stay more comfortable.