Smart Tech is Changing Apartment Living

Published on February 29, 2020

New technologies are taking apartment living to the next level. Hate taking your trash to the dumpster? There’s a service for that. Cumbersome Amazon packaging filling your recycling? There’s a service to collect that too.

Today’s apartments are more modern than ever, often boasting built-in smart tech and full amenities from gyms and pools to arcades and bowling alleys. But the luxury doesn’t have to stop there.

Why do renters need dog yoga, smart lockers, or a chef pavilion when just a few years ago a pool and a gym were the pinnacle of apartment luxuries? Perhaps it’s related to the growing number of high-income renters. In 2017, more than 19 percent of Americans making six-figure incomes were renting their home. That’s an all-time high, according to Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies.

With all the demand for upgraded amenities, it’s no surprise developers are looking for app-based solutions to add value for their renters.

Pet owners are increasingly using services like Wag! or Baroo to take care of their furry friends while they’re away from home. Other platforms like Dwello or Amenify offer the ability to pay one’s rent through an app or request cleaning services on demand.

Home concierge services are also a popular option, offering a variety of home delivery services ranging from groceries and laundry to prescription drop-offs. Concierge startup Hello Alfred, for example, offers cleaning services, electronic installations, and pet care though one platform.

Valet Living, a well-established concierge service, offers everything from garbage removal to in-home fitness classes. They’ve partnered with TV personality and fitness expert Jillian Michaels to bring fitness classes and app-based training courses into your home.

Michaels said of the company, “Fitness needs to be a part of our everyday lives, so making it available within the comfort of a multifamily development is a perfect fit.” She continued, “Valet Living Home is going above and beyond the standard gym amenity, bringing group fitness classes to communities that enhance the everyday lives of residents and help ease their busy schedules.”

Other apps allow residents to view live video of their community so they can see if the poolside barbecue is available or check on their car in the parking lot (though this could raise some privacy concerns). One could also manage a visitor guest list, alerting the front desk to expected arrivals in real time.

The front desk can also use apps to send notifications to residents. Whether it’s a package delivery or a facility closure, properties can automatically alert everyone with just the push of a button.

Another important feature many apartments are incorporating into their app-based services is the ability to place a work order. Residents can schedule repairs through their smartphone, eliminating double-bookings and unanswered maintenance requests.

What if you need your car pulled around, or a guest’s car? Some properties even offer valet parking services with just a few swipes of the screen.

smart apartment
Valet Living offers services ranging from laundry to pet care. (Courtesy of Valet Living)

The overall goal of these services isn’t just to make life easier for residents, it’s to encourage them to stay put. According to President and CEO of Valet Living Shawn Handrahan, “It’s driving community engagement; that’s the key. Amenities that don’t drive community engagement aren’t going to help retention. On average, multi-family dwellings turn over at 53 percent… By providing 100 percent of the amenities residents want 24/7 on-call, we can provide this high-level of service to create an exceptional living experience.”

Community engagement is increasingly important to renters. According to a 2018 Consumer Housing Insights Survey, 58 percent of respondents felt apartments should “provide helpful services and amenities for the surrounding community.”

The digital age makes many things easier, but face-to-face social skills aren’t always improved by new technology. That’s why many apartments are turning to outside companies to manage community events aimed at pulling people out of their apartments and into eachothers lives. Group cooking classes, karaoke nights, or movie screenings on the lawn can tempt residents to leave the safety of their abode and meet the neighbors.

Some property managers are even taking it a step further and offering apps that allow residents to communicate, meet up, or even share services like babysitting or group fitness classes. The idea is to help residents connect and form a functioning community of people who know their neighbors and maybe even hang out together from time to time.

Community and customization are at the core of these apartment apps. Those factors are what inspired Jillian Michaels to speak about advances in fitness technology at this summer’s Apartmentalize conference in Denver. “[Fitness technology] has evolved in every way, right? Between apps and body metrics and devices that can give you an ECG, it’s amazing. For me in particular, I love it because of the customization.”

She explained, “With my DVDs, for example, it’s like – here’s a workout, take it or leave it, one-size-fits-all. With the app, I can put all the DVDs in there and you can stream them. Then you can say, ‘Hey, I need a 20-minute workout. I want to do abs. I’m an intermediate level athlete. I have no equipment available.’ And I can customize everything for you: your meal plan and your fitness. So only technology allows us to do that now. I love it. I’ve seen it literally change my industry.”

Personalized fitness programs, concierge services, and this extreme level of personalization are more than a luxury, they’re a lifestyle. Handrahan explains, “Lifestyle renters are the fasting booming segment. New development dollars are going into high- and mid-rise assets because people my age – I’m a 56 year-old man – don’t want to have the problems associated with homeownership and want to have walkability, so they move into these communities.”

He continued, “But, people of means already have somebody cleaning their apartment, walking their dog, or doing their grocery shopping. Now, we have all of that in one platform where you can touch a button and whatever you need is taken care of.”

Now if I could just get my landlord to fix the radiator and clean those mystery hairs out of the hot tub, I might stay in my complex forever.

The article Smart Tech is Changing Apartment Living by Patricia Miller first appeared on Innovation & Tech Today.


Innovation & Tech Today is a national magazine showcasing the latest cutting edge, innovative technologies and those individuals driving the industry forward. Every quarter our experts and writers aim to find fascinating stories, products, and people across a variety of industries that we can feature in our magazine, and while we often focus on education, STEM, wearables, smart home technology, business, and sustainability, those are ultimately just a few of the many areas we cover. No matter where the innovation is happening, we’ll be there capturing it all.

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