How to make your rental feel like home

I have always lived in rental houses, even growing up. My parents just bought and built their own house from scratch, almost 7 years after I moved in and started renting my own properties. Everyone has rental nightmares and stories of great landlords and not-so-great neighborhoods, memories of their first ‘starter’ apartment right out of college in that place they accidentally found turned out to be wonderful.

The question many of us ask ourselves when we move into a new apartment or rental home is whether or not this place could be considered “home.” Now that concept of home is vague and indescribable, different between two people even in the same family. For some people, the home is a certain set of objects, or people, or simply a feeling that one has regarding a combination of any type of thing.

Making your rental feel like home, whether you’re there for two months or 17 years, is essential to your well-being, as well as the adjustment we all have to make when moving to a new place. I found that as I have moved through rental properties my entire life, 9 in the last 6 years to be exact, what has made each of those places feel a little more like home has varied. However, there are some elements that make me feel at home, no matter where I am.

These items include the things that make me feel at home, namely random objects, pictures, and other belongings that I have collected over the years and painstakingly transferred through moves and even abroad. I have a shower curtain map of the world on which friends have signed their names; photos of family members, weddings, and college friends laughing together; magnets with Shakespeare’s best insults written on them; and a whole package of books that I can’t get to give away. I have a chameleon-shaped tape dispenser and coffee cups from the places I’ve traveled.

All of these things serve to make my rental properties feel like home, but there are plenty of other ways to make your rental feel like home too. Investing your time and effort in a rental property makes it seem more yours; If you can and your landlord agrees, see if you can paint a wall a fun color or spruce up the place in a more cosmetic way to put your stamp on it. Hang up pictures you like or posters with inspirational quotes. Put your world map on a cork board and pin the places you’ve been or want to travel to. Stock your fridge and put some fresh flowers on the table, buy sheets that you like, and create a space that you feel comfortable in.

Not every rental is a home, but every rental (no matter how big or small) can feel a bit more like a home with just a little effort.

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