December 11, 2023

As an apartment dweller in the Capital Region, it’s no problem to start the search for a new place to live with a lengthy wish list. While the area’s current housing market is in a stage of low inventory, bidding wars and an expedited buying process, local renters are finding a variety of options in cities and in suburbs, from apartments in new construction to multifamily units with history and built-in character.

When Kelsey Bowman began looking for an apartment in Albany, her criteria not only included a handful of “non-negotiables” like an in-unit washer and dryer and a bathtub, she was also specifically interested in a new construction complex. 

“I kept looking until I found a place that checked all the boxes,” said Bowman, who has lived in the Landmark Albany apartments for about six months, and is already planning to renew her lease. “A comfortable living space is important to me, and as a bit of a homebody, I wanted to live somewhere that was clean and well-kept.”

What Landmark Apartments offered Bowman was a brand new apartment, centrally located within a mile of Stuyvesant Plaza and the Northway. She was the first tenant to move into her one-bedroom, one -bath unit, which also features a large office and a balcony.

“If you like the smell of fresh paint and construction, that’s definitely an upside of living in a place like this,” Bowman said. “The carpets have never been walked on and the appliances hadn’t been used, so as the first one to move in, I anticipate having less technical problems down the road.”

For the price she pays, Bowman occasionally wishes the apartment came with more amenities, such as a pool, but she loves the design features inside like the gold light fixtures and neutral tones on the walls. Landmark houses a fitness center, an electric car charging station and a “paw park” for the residents’ pets — and one bedroom apartments in the 252-unit complex start at $1,700 a month.

In Saratoga Springs, Danielle Manupella has held onto the same apartment for more than four years, maintaining her brownstone residence downtown and welcoming in new roommates from lease to lease. Her apartment is among the historic row of homes on Woodlawn Avenue dating back to the late 1800s.

“The ability to just walk out your door and be in this little, big city never gets old to me,” said Manupella, who was initially drawn to the property because of its proximity to Broadway and the exposed brick details inside.

“I never expected to live here as long as I have,” said Manupella, who has rented two different units in the row and currently shares her two-bedroom, one-bath unit with a roommate. “We knew there would be some downsides; it can get drafty in the winter, and you definitely pick up more sounds from the creaky floors to your neighbors next door than in a newer apartment.”

The unit Manupella lives in now was destroyed by fire in 2013 and the future of the entire row of homes was initially uncertain. Instead of tearing down the Saratoga brownstones, the owner restored them and the units became available to rent again two years after the fire.

“What our landlord did to preserve these buildings after the fire was really incredible to me,”  Manupella said. “It makes it even more unique to know items were salvaged like the marble fireplaces, as well as some doors and flooring.” Listing website averages rent in Saratoga Springs to be just over $1,500.

As far as expressing her personal style goes, Manupella said she hasn’t overly decorated throughout the years, but chooses to let the historic features of the apartment lead the overall design aesthetic.

“My friends are always in awe when they see our living space,” Manupella said. “Sometimes I forget how special it is, but I’m always reminded when I get to welcome someone new and share the back story.”

Living in an individually owned, multifamily apartment has allowed Manupella to cultivate a personal relationship with her landlord over the years. Rather than paying rent through an online portal, she prefers being able to deliver it personally.

She also believes that relationship has helped keep her rent at a reasonable rate She hasn’t faced the annual increases that might happen in a more traditional apartment complex.

“Sometimes I wish I had a gym or a pool to access, or to be able to have the best of both worlds and live in a historic home with upgraded appliances and bathrooms,” she said. “But you can’t have it all.”

Down the street from Manupella in a more commercially developed area. Elizabeth Hunter has lived at The Hamlet at Saratoga Springs since 2018 after seeking an upgrade from a previous Victorian-style apartment rental downtown.

“I really wanted something new and affordable for one person living on their own,” said Hunter, who had lived with three other roommates on Broadway. “It’s so hard to find personal outdoor space in Saratoga, so the in-unit patio and community pool were huge perks.”

The Hamlet is located just a mile’s walk from downtown, which keeps Hunter connected to her favorite bars and restaurants while also being able to take advantage of the complex’s indoor parking and a conference room space to work from. Available units currently range in price from around $2,200 to the Secretariat three-bed, three-bath option at about $4,000, according to the Hamlet’s website.

While initially disappointed by the distance, she frequently takes the short walk to exercise, meet up with friends and to enjoy the sights and beautiful homes nearby.

Inside the apartment, Hunter has been able to use the blank canvas of a newer unit to express her creativity and design.
“I’ve used some peel-and-stick wallpaper throughout the space and installed a new light fixture that I’m obsessed with,” she said. “You can bring in any furniture and decor that you want to make it your own style.”

Since she’s all about outdoor living, Hunter admires the different patio designs around the complex, where residents decorate with lounge furniture, plants and flowers, bar carts and tabletop seating for when they’re not mingling together in the pool or on the rooftop deck.

“It’s a small space in theory, but large enough for everyone to be creative with,” she said.

In each style of apartment living, there’s a similar thread of community atmosphere that comes with multifamily properties and complexes with hundreds of residents. If living is about more than just a space to live, but rather a place you want to get to know your neighbors, you can create that atmosphere almost anywhere.

“This property has allowed me to get to know the other tenants, especially during the pandemic or in the summer when we spend time on the porch,” Manupella said. “Between the five apartments in the row, it’s like we are all part of a family that lives in this big old house together.”


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