Searching for an apartment can be both exciting and stressful, especially if it’s your first time! While living in a college dorm is a similar experience, having an apartment to yourself (even if you have a roommate or two) provides so much more independence. However, there are several factors to take into consideration when looking for an apartment. Here are 10 tips that will help you find your new home.
1. Search for places with a rent lower than your budget.
Setting a budget is obvious, but it’s especially important to have it set early into your search. Sites like Apartments or ApartmentFinder display the prices from lowest to highest. It’s not uncommon to visit an apartment and find the rent has gone up higher than the price listed. Hence, starting with a lower rent search will make it easier to budget in an unexpected rent jump.
2. Pay attention to additional fees.
Always be prepared to pay for more than just the rent. These extra expenses are separate from utilities and raise the monthly cost. This can include a garage, short-term lease, pet, and/or amenity fees. Lastly, don’t forget that when applying, the one-time administrative/application fees are non-refundable. So make sure you’re only applying to a place that you can picture yourself living in.
3. Call your favorite apartments ahead of time.
When moving, it can be easy to get overwhelmed early in your search. The last thing you want to do is visit 10 different apartments. If you have one or two components that are absolute must haves (e.g. rent under $1,000, offers a 6 month lease, or has underground parking), call the most promising places and ask them if they meet your desired criteria. As updated as apartment searching websites are, sometimes small details are either outdated or inaccurate.
4. Decide if you prefer a newly built or renovated apartment.
There are pros and cons to both options (typically price vs quality). For example, older buildings won’t have central air conditioning but have updated appliances and recreation spaces, whereas newer ones have a higher rent and may have smaller square footage. Making this decision early in your search will help narrow down the options.
5. Remember that pictures aren’t everything.
It’s easy to fall in love with the remodeled apartments, sparkling pools, and fancy group rooms online, but always make sure to visit an apartment in person before applying.Past history of flooding, half-finished renovations, poor cell reception, and slow maintenance requests are easy to hide online. If possible, try and see the room you would rent to make sure it’s similar to the model room.
6. Ask lots of questions.
While touring the apartment, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sights and all the new information, so make a list of questions to ask ahead of time. Some of them might include: Are the utilities included in rent? How do trash/recycling work? What’s the package system? Are there any utilities you’ll need to get a separate account for? The more you think about what living at the apartment is like, the more questions you will have.
7. Learn how to make maintenance requests.
The maintenance crew will be your go-to people when living in an apartment, especially if you live in an older building. From changing light bulbs, unclogging toilets, to fixing appliances, the maintenance crew will play an important role in your apartment experience. Therefore, it’s helpful to know when requests will be answered, if any team members live on-sight, and what their weekend hours are.
So there you have it! Seven tips to help you navigate the apartment search and find the perfect new home.