Updated: February 13, 2023
Searching for an apartment is an exciting time in your life, but at the same time, it can be a stressful and overwhelming process — especially if you aren’t quite sure what key factors to consider during your search. To help make this transition smoother, it’s important to know what to look for in a potential new home. Here are 9 things to keep in mind to know if an apartment is right for you:
Budget & Lease Length
The first step in your apartment search is to figure out your budget, and determine how much you can afford to spend on rent each month. Most apartments require a security deposit upfront which is usually the first and last month’s rent on top of the monthly rent you’ll be paying during your lease. It can be helpful to chart out your earnings, monthly bills, groceries, and other expenses to get an idea of what you should set your budget at monthly. Keep in mind that some costs, such as your utilities, could be covered in the price of your rent. You also want to ask about the length of the lease the landlord requires. Some leases are 6 months while others are a full year. Make sure the lease length fits within your plans.
Location, Location, Location
The location of your apartment is just as important as the apartment itself. Make sure to consider the proximity to work, public transportation, and any other amenities you may need such as grocery stores, parks, or shopping centers. But also remember that location will vastly impact budget. An apartment in New York City, for example, will be way more expensive than an apartment just across the Hudson River, in New Jersey.
Look at the atmosphere of the community that you’re about to move into. Are people friendly? Many neighbors won’t mind if you introduce yourself in a friendly manner before you move in and ask them a few questions on what the place is like. If you are looking for an apartment as opposed to a house, you’ll be in much closer contact with your neighbors. It’s worth seeing what their standards for noise, activity and visitors are like. You can also ask them how long they’ve lived in the area and what their thoughts are. If you don’t feel comfortable knocking on strangers’ doors, you can also take a walk around nearby, and speak to people in coffee shops and local businesses. Often the people who work in these places live nearby, or perhaps have worked in the area for a while, and offer friendly resources to assess your new potential home.
When touring any potential new apartment, look for signs of poor maintenance such as water damage, mold, peeling paint, or broken appliances. Be extra thorough and test the outlets, make sure the heating and air conditioning are working as expected, and, most importantly, make sure locks on the doors and windows are secure. It’s also important to talk to other tenants of the building, to find out if the landlord is prompt in fixing any issues that arise.
You want to make sure the floor plan is suitable for your lifestyle and any potential roommates. Take note of the layout of the rooms and the storage space available. Good closet space can be hard to come by!
It’s important to have a good relationship with the leasing or property management people. Ask about their responsiveness and how they handle maintenance requests. A good management team can make a huge difference in your overall experience living in the apartment.
Determine what kind of amenities are important to you, such as a gym, pool, laundry facilities, or garage parking. Make sure the apartment complex offers the amenities you need.
If you have a pet, you’ll need find a pet-friendly apartment that can accommodate your “fur baby.” Ask about any breed restrictions or additional fees for having a pet. It’s good to go as far as finding out if the community is pet-friendly as well. Pet friendly communities might have a walking trail that is designed with dog walkers in mind.
The “It” Factor
Does the apartment have what it takes to feel like home? Nothing is more important than choosing an apartment that you feel comfortable and happy in.
Use your imagination to picture what unfurnished apartments will look like after you have moved in. Don’t be fooled by the emptiness of the space—it might look big now, but how will it look when you’ve arranged everything inside it? Is it enough space for all your belongings? If you’re worried about the size of the place, bring a measuring tape and jot the dimensions down, to make sure everything fits.
Beware of Common Apartment Scams
There are many places you can search for apartments. Places like Craigslist or real estate apps can be an excellent way to start your apartment search. Sadly, like with most things, some people use apartment listings to scam money out of unsuspecting apartment hunters. Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for to protect yourself from being scammed.
- Too good of a deal on rental costs where it’s much cheaper than surrounding rentals.
- Asks for the rent or security deposit upfront before the lease is signed.
- Makes excuses for why they can’t meet you face to face.
- The owner doesn’t allow tours.
- No screening process for tenants.
- Advertisements with lots of typos and errors.
It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want and need in an apartment before you start your search. This will help you save time and avoid frustration during the process. But, once you’ve established your general parameters, referring to this helpful list of factors to consider should make a daunting process go a bit more smoothly and help make your apartment hunt a success.
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