Searching for a new apartment can be daunting. I remember well the days of apartment hunting in my early twenties. There are so many things to consider when apartment hunting! These apartment hunting tips will help you make the process less stressful.
Apartment Hunting Tips
I don’t know about you, but apartment hunting always seemed like such a hassle to me. It could really take a lot of time, and I didn’t have a lot of time to spare. There are some things you just need to know when apartment hunting, and these apartment hunting tips helped me make the most of the time spent. Knowing what to look for in an apartment goes a long way toward finding the right one.
Set a Realistic Budget
Whether you’re looking at Dallas furnished apartments or unfurnished flats in the Chicago suburbs, knowing your budget is an absolute must! Determine your budget ahead of time, with $50-$100 as a buffer, and only look at the apartments you can afford. Be sure to consider whether or not you’ll have a roommate, and cost of commute when setting your budget.
Are Utilities Included
Some apartments include utilities, and maybe even cable, in the cost of rent. Others do not. Knowing whether your gas, electric, and water are included in the cost are important. If the utilities are not included, it’s smart to ask for the average monthly cost of each. Those will need to be factored into your realistic budget. ;)
Know Your Priorities
Knowing what is on your “must have” list will go a long way toward helping you find the perfect pad. Do you need in-unit laundry, or are you willing to walk down the hall? Do you want access to a fitness center or pool? Is having a ground level apartment a must? Or can you live with a balcony? Make your list of priorities, and be sure to know which you’re willing to compromise on. Finding the right apartment is a lot easier when you know what you want.
Know the Neighborhood
There’s is absolutely nothing worse than unknowingly picking a bad neighborhood. I once had a bi-level apartment (main level and basement) that I was literally afraid to go upstairs in because I was afraid I’d fall victim to a random drive by shooting. Check the city’s website or Facebook page for a feel of the area. Better yet, pop into the local police precinct and ask questions. There is nothing worse than feeling unsafe in your own home.
Check Your Network
Often times, friends and co-workers can be a great resource when apartment hunting. They may be able to tell you about openings in their building or give you the scoop on landlord’s to avoid. Personal connections can help you land an apartment before it’s even listed. They can also help you avoid pitfalls. You can also read Yelp reviews of the building and/or property management company.
Check the Connection
It’s important to check EVERY room in an apartment for cell phone reception. You don’t want to have to stand on the balcony for every phone call. Envision where you’ll want to make calls from, like the couch, bed, or bathroom, and make sure you can!
Heat and Air Conditioning
If you’re renting an apartment in the US, chances are you’re going to need heat or air conditioning. You may even need both. Make sure the vents work in the place your looking at. Also ask if you’ll have control of the thermostat. I viewed one apartment that had the thermostats locked and tenants weren’t allowed to make adjustments. That was a no-go for me, since I can’t sweat.
Check the Shower
It might seem silly to walk into the bathroom and turn on the shower, but seriously, it’s important. If you’re going to sign a lease, you want to know that the shower works properly. If the shower head isn’t up to par, you can ask for it to be replaced before you sign the lease. You should also ask about reimbursement for small upgrades like this, as some landlord’s will allow you to do it yourself and submit the receipt.
If you have a pet, you’ll want to know what it’s going to cost you to keep it. Even if you don’t have a pet at the moment, the pet policy is definitely one of the questions to ask when apartment hunting. Some places allow pets up to a certain weight, others don’t allow pets at all. Some apartments have breed restrictions. Some apartments require a pet deposit or have pet fees. You don’t want any surprises in the pet policy department. Check if pet fees are a flat rate or dependent on the number of pets. Also ask whether the pet fee or deposit is a one time cost, or monthly fee. Monthly pet fees can add up fast!
Check the Cabinets and Closets
There are some important things to check when apartment hunting, and actually inspecting the cabinets and closets is one of them. Look for any holes, mold, or signs of water damage. Be sure to look for any pest activity (mouse droppings or bug activity) You’ll want those noted, and repaired, before signing a lease. You can also check the address against the Bed Bug Registry.
Be sure to check with your insurance provider on the cost of renter’s insurance for particular units. Insurance may be higher in some areas than in others. The location may also affect your car insurance, so check that, too. Insurability is definitely one of the things to know when apartment hunting!
If you’re renting an unfurnished apartment, you need to make sure your furniture will fit. Actually take a tape measure with you to apartment visits and measure rooms and doorways. Just because your sofa will fit in the room, doesn’t mean it’s fitting through the door. Measure the stairwell, too, if you’ll need to use it.
Even if you don’t smoke, you’ll want to know the smoking policy of the building. Knowing whether your neighbors are permitted to smoke inside the building can help you determine if an apartment is a good fit or not.
Does the unit have parking available? Is parking assigned? Is parking on street? Is parking covered? Is there a parking fee? If the parking lot is open, how is snow/ice removal handled? Knowing where you can park your car is important.
Knowing what you want, what you can afford, what to look for, and what questions to ask when apartment hunting will go a long way toward finding the right apartment for you.
Once you’ve found the perfect apartment for you, be sure to get the free printable from my We Said Yes to the Address article, so you can let all your friends know!