Working from home is a bigger trend than ever before – especially in the time of Coronavirus.  So, what to look for when you’re looking at rental homes and apartments where you can work from home?  We surveyed our team – and all of us are working from home as of now!  

Here’s our list:

  1. Internet, Internet, Internet

Real estate used to be about location, location, location.  If you’re trying to work from home in your rental, it’s now about Internet, Internet, Internet.  

To successfully do video conferencing (typically the highest bandwidth work from home application), you’ll need at least 25 Mbps download speeds and 2 Mbps upload speeds – but here, more is better.  

When you’re looking at a new place, go deep with the landlord or leasing agent and really understand what the Internet options are.  In large buildings, you’ll either have a choice or you won’t. If you have a choice, you should be set – one of those options is almost always a super-fast option, or, at worst, the local cable company, which should be able to meet your needs. 

If you’re trying to work from home and they only have one choice for you, do your homework and make sure it will be fast enough.  I’d recommend you talk to a resident in the community who’s working from home and understand if it’s working for them – that’s the best way to test.  

If you’re renting a home, you should be able to get service from the local cable company, which can generally provide sufficient service quality to meet your needs.  

  1. Space matters

No easy way around this…if you’re going to work from home in your rental, you’re going to need some space for a desk.  And likely a real desk, one where you can have office supplies, a computer, maybe a monitor or two. Room for a chair too – and room for that chair to roll around.  And, you’re probably going to want a printer, which means a printer stand. Maybe even you’ll have some files…does anyone still have files? Well, maybe not.

A real work from home setup takes up a surprising amount of space if it’s going to be comfortable and effective.  If you’re thinking you can jam a desk and chair into a standard 10’ x 10’ bedroom alongside your king size bed, you’ve got another thing coming.  

So, look for a rental with either a dedicated space for your work from home set up or a spacious bedroom or living room where you can locate everything.  

Doesn’t hurt to measure out the depth and width of the desk you want to use, allow three feet in front of the desk for the chair to roll and then factor in any other office furniture you want to have so you can actually plan for the space.

  1. Fresh air is not optional

Working from home can be confining.  At an office you have to leave in order to get lunch, get a coffee or go home.  When you work from home at your rental, it’s easy to go days without ever leaving your place.  

Over here at Dwellsy, we all agree that we each need some outdoor space to maintain our sanity.  Whether it’s a balcony, a roof deck, or a streetside door stoop, think hard about the places you will be able to go to get a little air and take a break from your home office.  

  1. Coffee anyone?

Sometimes a little air isn’t enough…sometimes you need an additional space where you can work, take a meeting or just take a break.  Coffee shops are superb for that purpose. Does your new place have one within walking distance, so you don’t feel the need to get in a car to get there?  

  1. Lights, Action!

Funny to us to have to think about lighting, but you’d be amazed how much it matters for those video calls.  Wrong lighting and you’re sitting in darkness on a conference call while everyone else is present and fully lit.

Best practice is for you to be facing a window to the outdoors so that you get full daylight on your face when on a conference call.  If that’s not possible, think about the space and whether or not it will allow you to have lights behind your desk and in front of your face in a non-intrusive way so that you can have good lighting on your face.  And, beware bright lights or big windows behind your desk…those can also mess with your lighting and make working from home in your rental challenging.

  1. Shhh…quiet, please

This one is different for everyone, but many of us here at Dwellsy really need a quiet place to work.  Does the place you’re looking at seem quiet to you during the hours you’ll be working? Or is there a ton of background noise, either from stores downstairs, loud street noise or noisy neighbors?  

  1. If quiet fails…

Sometimes quiet just isn’t for you.  Maybe you have a chance to live above your favorite bar or across the street from the best playground in town.  Maybe you got an amazing deal on a place next to the subway tracks. We’ve lived in those places and we know how awesome they can be.  

If that’s the case, then noise cancelling earphones will be your friend.  There are amazing ones out there now. We’re not in a position to recommend anything, but Wirecutter always seems to have good recommendations to maximize silence while working from home in your rental.

Check out these renter tips and then visit Dwellsy.com to find a rental and make it home.