What to Expect in Size
The exact size of your apartment balcony will vary, depending on the size of your living unit, the design of the apartment building and the strength of the support beams holding the balcony up. If all apartments in the building feature balconies, you may find that each balcony is smaller and your neighbors can easily see what you're doing in your outdoor living space. Larger buildings or those that only offer balconies on select units may offer more privacy.
Balconies vs. Patios
Patios offer personal outdoor space on the ground level, and they often feature a concrete or stone foundation rather than the wood construction of a balcony. You may find that the patios in an apartment complex are a bit larger than the balconies, and a patio may allow you to fire up a grill or walk directly into community parks or other shared outdoor spaces. Patios often come with fences as well, so they're a bit more private.
There are also some advantages to a balcony. You're up high, so it's more difficult for intruders to come into your space, and you may have beautiful views that aren't enjoyed at the ground level. Most apartment communities offer patio and balcony units, so you may have a choice.
Balcony Safety Tips
When viewing an apartment that includes a balcony, take the time to inspect the railing and flooring of the outdoor space. Make sure that all panels or poles in the railing are tight and free of cracks, breaks and other imperfections. Look for loose floorboards or holes. Lean or push on the railing lightly to make sure it doesn't move or shake. If you find safety concerns, make sure that they are repaired before you move into the apartment.