What to Look For In an Apartment If You Work From Home
Remote working in stable industries used to be a luxury reserved for people at the management level or above, then the business world caught up with the possibilities of the internet — and now it’s fairly common to have some kind of flexible work from home option, whether you’re working from home all the time or just on occasion. And then there are the entrepreneurs who go solo, if only for the opportunity to work in their pajamas.
But an environment that’s great for living and relaxing in won’t necessarily be as good for getting things done, which is fairly important if you intend to be productive. Even the most brilliant mind can’t nail spreadsheets and absorb daytime soaps at the same time.
So it’s all about getting the balance right — all the comforts of home, and all the functions of the office. When you’re hunting for an apartment that will support work and play, here’s what you need to look for:
Good natural light access
OK, so plenty of regular offices don’t have this — that’s true. Lots of cubicle-dwellers across the nation will readily attest to suffering under fluorescent lights. But at least circumstances require them to spend some time outside while heading to and from the workplace. If you work from home, and you’re particularly dedicated to your job, the hours can blur together. You can look up from your latest figures to realize that you’ve spent the entire working week in your apartment.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, sunlight is kinda important. It regulates your sleep, improves your health (in usual amounts!), and significantly boosts your mood. If you hit Wednesday and you feel half-dead, you might have failed to get enough sunlight.
Look for a place with lots of natural light during the day, and good coverage throughout (there’s only so much you can do to brighten a place up with color). Avoid the disastrous architectural scenario of one searingly-bright spot in which you can’t actually see anything and murky grey shadow everywhere else.
An area you can dedicate to work
I’m sure that triple-width bed you’re gazing at longingly is extremely comfortable to sleep in, but if you try to write while lazing on it, you’re just going to pop right through the page and leave ink scrawlings on your sheets. And your spine will probably collapse in short order.
You don’t need a separate room to work in, though that would be the ideal setup. You really just need a small area you can effectively cordon off to serve as your workstation. What it will consist of will depend on the nature of your work — if you draw, or write by hand, or build models, then you’ll need a large desk or table. If you tap away at a laptop, you’ll need light in the right direction (to avoid glare) and room to keep your arms in comfortable positions.
From time to time, you can work from the breakfast table. It isn’t impossible. It’s just very difficult to maintain a consist working procedure when you’re in the immediate vicinity of Captain Crunch at all times. After all, productivity is all about achieving focus.
Minimal area noise
There’s a reason that noise torture has been deployed by military forces worldwide in an effort to break wills. When our hearing gets overloaded, we struggle to form coherent thoughts. Our brains are reactive pattern recognition machines beneath all our sophistication, and it just takes a handful of noises from the street to get our algorithms trying to figure out what’s going on.
This is particularly important if you do any kind of creative work because you’ll be reliant on a flow state of sorts — taking time to settle into a rhythm, then working through bursts of strong productivity. If a dog barks outside and totally disrupts your thought patterns, it’s all ruined.
Steer clear of apartments near airports, busy bars, sporting venues, and any other places that are consistently loud. You’re unlikely to be able to go for somewhere totally off the beaten path (for a reason we’ll look at shortly) but aim for somewhere in a quiet neighborhood with solid sound insulation and windows you can close securely.
Something particularly exciting about becoming untethered from the conventional 9-to-5 workplace setup is the prospect of upping sticks and heading to pastures new. For many dreamers, that will involve sun-soaked beaches and city hotspots — but before you head online to order designer shades and find a Miami business for sale, cool your jets and think about how fun you’d really have in the sweltering Florida heat with a sun-facing view and janky AC.
Yes, it’s actually quite difficult to focus on work when it’s so hot that you can’t breathe and your brain begins to melt and ooze from your ear canals. So if you’re going to be living in a hot state, make sure there’s powerful and reliable AC, plenty of shade, and good ventilation — and if you’re aiming at somewhere like Alaska, look for strong central heating and great insulation. (If you pick for somewhere relatively clement like Washington DC, good choice: check out some swanky DC apartment options).
Fast and stable internet
Internet access is the key ingredient of remote working, and it’s somewhat challenging to get anything done without it. Even if your work itself doesn’t require consistent access, you’ll presumably need to be dealing with clients, employers, employees, contacts, sources, and many other people besides. Do you intend to do it all over the phone?
Ideally, you’ll want to find a place that has access to several service providers, so that you have bargaining power if the one you use fails to perform adequately well. If you find somewhere with highly-regarded internet access but only one provider, you’ll be somewhat stuck if the service suddenly declines.
This part is admittedly becoming much less of a concern as time goes by because mobile data options are becoming more robust. It may already be perfectly viable for you to get a substantial mobile data plan and use that instead of getting a stable internet connection at your apartment. But since signal strength can vary, phones can break, and rates are still fairly steep, you’re better off sticking with the usual setup.
Do your research to find an apartment with all of these things, and you’ll have everything you need to work and live comfortably from the one location — and say goodbye to the commuting nightmare as a result!
Writer & Entrepreneur
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to supporting startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest entrepreneurial news and side hustle tips. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.