Sep 032013

This weekend, my brother came to visit me and my husband at our apartment. In the elevator, he noticed an ad for a Labor Day party for residents, touting free snacks and goodies in the lounge. I had seen the ad all week, and while I wasn’t planning to attend myself because I usually find these things a little awkward and there were some sales I wanted to hit instead, I thought it was a nice gesture, and beyond that, hadn’t really given it much thought.

“Are they trying to make this place like a dorm?” he asked.

“Haha—shut up!” I said, because I am extremely mature.

But—like the time when I was a teenager and haughtily told my mom that the patterned pants she was wearing looked like they belonged on the golf course and she never wore them again—I couldn’t stop his comment from ringing in my ears the rest of the day.

Are apartment communities trying to be more like dorms?

I’m contractually obligated to include this picture every time I talk about college.

With all the parties and activities, it certainly seems like market-rate property managers are borrowing ideas from student housing. So is this a good thing?

I’m of two minds on this. Offering programs and parties that are similar to what would be offered at a college dorm could attract a lot of that golden demographic, the young professional. Plus, they might get a lot of residents participating, which would lead to good experiences with their neighbors and a community feel, which would hopefully lead to good word of mouth for the community and resident retention. And, who among us wouldn’t still want to participate in a rousing game of A-socks-sination (where everyone in the dorms pulls the name of someone in the building, and has to hit that person with a ball of socks. If you hit your target, you get the name of the person they were going for, which is your new target. If you’re hit, then you give up your target to the other person, and are out of the game. Last person standing is the winner. Awesome, right? Go Bearcats!). It’s nice getting to know your neighbors, and it makes living somewhere more fun.

On the other hand…

While nice in theory, have a lot of us outgrown these types of parties? As mentioned, they’re sometimes awkward. Many people are content doing their own thing and after a long day of work want some peace and quiet to relax. After all, some of us, instead of going to a resident party, would rather have an existential crisis over whether to watch Dexter live and then watch a DVR-ed Breaking Bad or vice versa (although clearly you watch Dexter first so you can drool over Michael C. Hall, and then watch Breaking Bad so you can fast forward through the commercials) and then get to bed—when it’s hopefully quiet. A person’s apartment is his castle, and sometimes a castle isn’t complete without a moat around it.

Do you think that resident parties and events channel the student life? What do you think about it? And, if you like the idea of taking ideas from dorms, what other things could we pull from college life?

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor


  5 Responses to “‘What Renters Want’ with Jessica Fiur: Are Apartment Communities Trying to be Like Dorms?”

  1. Jessica,

    I’m really enjoying this series.

    I think that in lower income communities/rentals, these community-building excise are very important. Getting to know your neighbor helps with safety and other basic needs.

    However, mid to upper income communities have a different set of needs – and these activities don’t hit that target. I would offer volunteer and hiking opportunities to this group.

    Anyway, please keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Al,

    Very interesting idea about communities with different incomes needing different activities! I agree with you.


  3. Apartment functions/activities have been going-on for years. This is far from a “new” thing. I lease for a living, here in the City of Houston, Midtown, Downtown, Heights, Galleria & more.

    Joe Cano – Realtor/Locator
    (281) 785-5132

  4. Jessica…I appreciate your thoughts and have considered this topic both ways. Apartment communities have been having resident functions since before my time and I’m in my 25th year of property management.

    Resident functions actually enhance “community” on multi-family properties. It is the resident’s choice on whether to participate or not. Some of the properties I’ve worked with, offered monthly activities and although the attendance wasn’t as good on a monthly basis, it still gave the residents an opportunity to connect with other residents as well as management. It’s also a forum for feed back to the management team.

    Most properties have large functions at least twice a year. Such as Summer and the Christmas/Hanukah season. Usually they are pretty widely attended. It’s a gesture of thanks and appreciation from Management to the Residents who reside there.

    It is my hope that resident functions will continue to serve the purpose for which they are intended! Facilitating community…communications…and good will!

  5. If your apartments offer a cleaning service your apartment will not be like a dorm, guaranteed. :)

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