Have you experienced the joy of having a downstairs neighbor who likes to smoke? Taylor Swift at deafeningly high decibels? Or maybe it warms your heart to remember the family upstairs who refused to keep theirs 5 year old from constantly sprinting from room to room while wearing shoes? Okay, maybe he wasn’t wearing tap shoes. But you get the picture. ah, living in an apartment.
Then there’s the frustration work from home while fighting freckles Wifi. You know the pains: Your audio lags during Zoom meetings, you can’t load that YouTube video, and Netflix keeps freezing. To make matters worse, your roommate has no problems in his room and you continue to struggle to stay connected.
When it comes to a clear Wi-Fi signal, apartments are crowded with many devices, heavy beams, metal obstacles and a large number of devices require air space at the same time. This can make you feel helpless. However, there are some steps you can take to improve the signal and get a better Wi-Fi connection in your home.
Oh, one more thing. If they are all the same, your first move should be to investigate whether you have options to use the other internet service provider. But when it comes to living in an apartment, you often don’t have much choice in terms of ISP. Many apartment complexes have residential contracts with certain Internet service providers, that is, even if they have several providers available in your areayour lease may obligate you to stick with the one you have.
Okay, that’s enough preamble. Let’s jump into it.
Protect your Wi-Fi signal
Decreasing the security of your network is an important first step no matter where you live, but it’s especially important if you rent an apartment and use the equipment that comes with the apartment. You can start by changing the router’s network name and password. If you are using a device provided by your ISP, you should be able to use their app to change your information very easily.
If you want to avoid using an ISP application (or have your own router), you can easily access the router settings and change the Wi-Fi password. It doesn’t have to be intimidating, and my colleague Ry Crist does a great job of breaking it down for you and keeping it clear. But when it comes to your new password, make sure it’s anything but simple. Yes, it’s tempting to keep it simple to make it easier to remember, but you want to make it harder for others to break (and use a password manager to aid memorization).
Your router uses two bands – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz – and in each of these bands there are channels for sending and receiving the Wi-Fi signal. Your Wi-Fi problems may stem from the fact that you are using the same channel as many of your neighbors. So you all clog the same lanes.
The solution is to jump off that crowded channel and find one with a little less traffic. There are 11 channels in the 2.4 GHz band and 24 in the 5 GHz range. Use your router’s Wi-Fi utilities (either through an app or the web) to find the least used channel available and set your router to that channel.
When you do, it’s a good idea to use internet speed test to compare how your Wi-Fi performs on different channels. It’s actually a good idea to run a speed test before changing any settings. This gives you a basic idea of how your Wi-Fi is (barely) performing, and you can later see how these new channels perform in comparison.
Ideally, you don’t want to check this channel every day, but if it’s effective in solving your problems, you can rely on it whenever you run into problems.
Move the router
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution. Maybe the reason for your weak Wi-Fi is this bad placement of your router. Is it tucked away in a bookcase? Is it close to or blocked by a large piece of furniture or appliance? Try to give the router some space. While you might be tempted to clean it up for aesthetic reasons, you could be inadvertently hindering the router’s ability to send a clear signal.
Speaking of location, location, location: don’t put your router in the kitchen. Not only will your router have signal issues around any large metal devices, but the microwave in particular will interfere with the router. Both operate on similar frequencies, so your Wi-Fi connection will be disturbed if it is near a microwave oven. Finally, all of these important things aside, you’ll want to stay out of the kitchen to reduce the likelihood of coffee, water, spills, and other food debris ruining your router.
Also, remember the scenario I mentioned above where your roommate gets good Wi-Fi and you’re left with leftovers? There’s a good chance they’re closer to the router than you are. Try moving the router more to the center of the apartment. Not only should there be a fairer sharing of the Wi-Fi wealth, but in theory your router should also perform better.
Finally, move it away from other demanding Wi-Fi devices like yours smart TV or Game station. Again, having all these devices close to each other will interfere with your router’s functions.
Get a Wi-Fi extender
Can’t move your router? There is nothing unusual in the apartments. Your equipment is often held in place by wires. But all is not lost in this scenario. You can contact a Wi-Fi extender. It shouldn’t be too much of an investment or commitment—decent options can range from just under $30 to around $100—but it could pay big dividends in improving your Wi-Fi signal.
Depending on the size of your site, you may only need one Wi-Fi extender. Be sure to place it in the “dead spot” of your apartment and see if you can turn this area into a connected life. One thing to note: getting a Wi-Fi extender doesn’t mean you skip the previous steps. For example, you still want to research the best channel to use. If you and everyone else in the building are on channel 11 or 144, you’ll probably still have problems even if you’re using a Wi-Fi extender.
Invest in a network system
Do you have high streaming or gaming demands and have outgrown the router your ISP gave you “for free”? If all else fails, or you live in a larger apartment, you may need to explore a more expensive – but still affordable – option. Invest in good quality network router.
This option gives you range extender satellites that can help you extend your signal beyond 100 feet. If you want to integrate your router into your smart homefind the ones that work specifically with your devices (Google, Alexa, HomeKit, etc.).
It is also worth considering when considering a purchase: if you imagine your apartment as a temporary living situation, buy a system with Wi-Fi 6 and other advanced thinking abilities. For example, you may want to prioritize your router’s ability to handle multi-gigabit speeds. Or make sure you can add more satellites to your system if the size of your home or the number of devices increases.
One last word
Maybe I should start with that, but I’ll go ahead and finish it. If you’re having problems with your apartment’s Wi-Fi router and you’re getting speeds that are way below what your ISP promises, I have to ask you: have you tried restarting it? I know. I don’t like hearing that question either. It makes me feel like an idiot. But sometimes it can be that simple. Try restarting your router. But if that doesn’t work, you now have a plan of other options to try.
FAQs for stronger Wi-Fi in your home
Will my Wi-Fi speed always be bad because I live in an apartment?
Is not necessarily. Of course, living in an apartment means you’ll have challenges with Wi-Fi. Namely, the proximity of other neighbors and possible interference from all their devices and signals. But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to have bad Wi-Fi. It just means you might have to work a little harder to optimize your Wi-Fi experience.
Is there a way to upgrade the Wi-Fi in my apartment?
yes Perhaps the fastest way to upgrade your Wi-Fi is to get a faster plan from your ISP. However, this may not be financially feasible for many. So the next best option is to try moving the router to a more central location in the apartment. This should provide better Wi-Fi in more areas of your place. But if that doesn’t work, you can try to buy a Wi-Fi extender to extend the range of your Wi-Fi connection in your apartment.
Can I get free Wi-Fi in my apartment?
It depends. While some apartment complexes advertise “free Wi-Fi”, this usually means that there is free Wi-Fi connectivity in common areas such as lobbies, gyms and clubhouses. It usually does not extend to your apartment. Still, you can essentially get free internet — and consequently free Wi-Fi — if you qualify for the government’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which is designed to help low-income households qualify for high-speed internet.