Renters are increasingly looking for high-rise living options, and for good reasons. The many advantages of high-rise apartment living include a doorman to accept packages while you’re at work, fitness centers and pools to make gym memberships obsolete, staff on hand to fix things when they break, and more. High-rises, in other words, are on the rise.

But, not all high-rises are created equal. One “$1,800, 1-bedroom” apartment can vary dramatically from another just down the street. The first might be located in the quieter, commuter-oriented South Loop, while the second sits amidst a hub for dining and nightlife in River North. One might have excellent shower pressure and WiFi, while the other lacks heat for the first two weeks of winter and comes with paper thin walls. The first might sit above Whole Foods, while the second is 30 minutes away from the nearest grocery store.

MUST SEE: What to Look for When Touring Luxury Apartments

What Makes a “5-star” High-Rise Living Experience?

About Our Methodology:

More than 1,300 of the reviews we gathered on our apartment review site focused on “full-amenity” apartment buildings. Each reviewer gave feedback on their overall experience as well as the quality of a building’s surrounding neighborhood (dining, nightlife, safety, etc.), in-unit experience (WiFi, shower pressure), property management (responsiveness), amenities (gym, communal area, elevator waits), and doormen/security (safety, effort).

We performed a statistical regression of these categories (neighborhood, in-unit experience, management, amenities, and doormen/security) on the overall experience. We also took a look at the distribution of these categories, subject to a “5-Star” experience, which we believe everyone deserves.

We ranked these categories from most-important, to least-important, and ended up with this list:

  1. In-Unit Experience
  2. Management
  3. Neighborhood
  4. Amenities
  5. Security

Read on for detailed information on each category!

#1: In-Unit Experience

In-Unit Experience is really, really important. In fact, it’s almost twice as important as the second most important category (Management).

Why? We spend way more time in our apartment than we do anywhere else!

To give you a sense of just how important this factor is in our assessment: we received 411 5-star reviews for high-rise apartments. 79% of these gave 5-Stars for “In-Unit Experience,” while 99% gave at least 4-stars.

If a building you’re looking at doesn’t have at least 4 stars for this category, you may want to look elsewhere.

As you sort through our reviews, keep in mind that every AptAmigo apartment review drills down one level deeper on “In-Unit Experience,” including feedback on shower pressure, WiFi, and temperature control, all of which aren’t apparent in pictures or a walkthrough.

Note: If you want to improve your living space, check out our mini interview with interior designer, Cait Pappas that outlines tips and tricks on creating a better in-unit experience using decor.

#2: Management

Management matters a lot. It’s nearly as important as the next two categories combined (Neighborhood and Amenities).

Our hypothesis: apartment renters understand that they’re paying for convenience and expect excellent service from buildings. If a management team doesn’t respond or address issues quickly, it can drag down an otherwise great experience.

Good thing every AptAmigo apartment building review provides qualitative and quantitative feedback on management.

#3: Neighborhood

The number of available buildings and variety of neighborhoods make apartment searching exciting, but at the same time, make it hard to choose. Are you a Downtown or an off-the-beaten-path kinda person? Whichever you are, high-rise apartments in your neck of the woods will offer amazing views.

It’s no surprise that high-rise renters prioritize a neighborhood’s vibe, as well as access to restaurants, nightlife, grocery stores, and the highway. Indeed, neighborhood commentary is among our most common qualitative feedback.

Based on the takeaways listed below, finding your perfect neighborhood and sticking to it throughout your search is the best approach. Even though it ranks at #3, getting the location right is necessary for a 5-star experience. After all, every neighborhood will contain buildings with great management to choose from, and once you pinpoint your ideal location, you can find a place with most or all of the in-unit features on your wishlist.

Many of our reviewers shared experiences on multiple buildings and neighborhoods. Most of them wish they skipped the first step and landed in their current homes sooner.

#4: Amenities

This was easily the most surprising result for us.

Much of the convenience we cited at the beginning of this post shows up as an “amenity” in our apartment reviews (fitness center, pool, communal space, grills, etc.), and yet amenities impact the resident experience less than the three categories mentioned above (1/4 as much as “In-Unit” and 1/2 of “Management”).

Our hypothesis: it’s easier to understand the value of a nice gym, pool, or communal space before moving in (and how those perks become part of our monthly rent). The gap between expectations and reality is much narrower than with in-unit, management, or neighborhood factors, which are more frequent sources of surprise.

That said, many of our reviewers LOVE their building’s amenities. Just make sure you feel comfortable paying for them (and will actually use them) before you take the plunge.

#5: Lobby Attendants & Security

A smiling, familiar face is something many high-rise residents see in their lobby every day. Surprisingly (to us at least), this didn’t correlate strongly with overall experience. This category exhibited 1/4th the impact of in-unit experience, and about 1/2 of a building’s neighborhood.

If a reviewer felt like there were any security issues with a building, it was basically game over for “5-Stars.” So, while this might not constitute the most impactful category, we’re confident buildings will continue to invest in high quality staff to the benefit of renters.

Our conclusion: Assess whether the other four categories meet your expectations before you sign the next lease.

Key Takeaways

Get feedback from residents on the nuances of a building’s in-unit experience (WiFi, ambient noise, cell service, shower pressure, temperature control) since that’s where you’ll spend most of your time. Pictures and a walkthrough aren’t enough. We’re biased, but we think the feedback on AptAmigo is pretty great.

  • Make sure building management responds to requests and issues.
  • Do a little extra work to find your ideal neighborhood. So many people we’ve talked to use neighborhoods interchangeably, but the ratings of those neighborhoods vary a great deal depending on personal preference.
  • Don’t forget to consider commute time, proximity to grocery stores and the CTA, your preferences for nightlife, restaurants, and lakefront access.
  • Be honest with yourself about how much you value a building’s amenities.
  • Smile and chat with your concierge, it can really make your day.

Find Your Dream High-Rise Living Experience Today

Now that you know the traits of the best high-rise living spaces, find the luxury apartment of your dreams! Reach out to AptAmigo, and we’ll pair you with a dedicated apartment expert who will make your apartment hunt a breeze. With our team of locals, insider expertise, and access to the best deals, apartment hunting has never been easier. Our service is 100% free and always will be.

Want to get in touch with your own personal, luxury apartment expert? Click below to get started!

Further Reading

How to Relocate in 30 Days or Less

The Way People Find Apartments Is Changing