Apartment hunting gets a bad rap. Yes, you have to scour countless maps online to find available apartments. Yes, you have to have a budget in mind and know what you can afford. And yes, you have to avoid getting sidetracked by those expensive places you can’t afford. But finding a great new apartment is not nearly as bad as people seem to think it is – if you have a plan.
Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed or pressured when you’re apartment hunting. (There will be plenty of that to go around when you’re ready to buy your first house).
Instead, prepare yourself and keep in mind these 5 things to look for when searching for a new apartment.
Work With Professionals
While Craigslist and other rental sites may offer great deals on apartments, there are risks involved in working with non-professionals.
Instead, work with a company that you trust. The company should allow you to see the apartments before signing any paperwork, and will always accept checks or credit card payments.
Leasing scams are all-too-common when working with non-professionals. If you do decide to find your next rental from a Craigslist listing, trust your instincts. Watch out for red flags, and run for the hills if they demand you to sign anything or send money before seeing the apartment!
Consider the Lifestyle Feel
What type of apartment are you searching for? Do you prefer a barebones apartment, or one that includes all of the best amenities?
Some apartments include fancy features like a high-tech fitness facility, resort-style pool, free steak dinners every Friday, and more. However, these features won’t be right for everyone.
Some individuals would prefer to live more modestly and avoid these amenities. Regardless, it’s important to think about which style of living best suits you.
Other things to consider: Would you prefer to be in the heart of a major city, or surrounded by nature? Are you someone who enjoys having bars and restaurants that are easily accessible, or would you prefer to live in a more isolated area that gives you the flexibility to go hiking?
Write a list of your top priorities in a new apartment and categorize them in terms of importance. When reviewing the various housing options, return to this list to help you make a decision.
Take Note of Any Common Walls
If you’ll be sharing a common wall with another tenant, try to determine which walls those are.
Will your bedroom wall be against another tenant’s living room wall? Are the walls super thin? Are you going to hear someone’s TV blaring all night when you’re trying to get some sleep?
Adding a carpet or white noise machine are two easy ways to fix any noise concerns. However, if you’re sensitive to noise, try to determine these facts before you sign a lease.
Inspect the Apartment for Safety Issues
Regardless of where you plan to live, you’ll want to make sure that the apartment unit and complex are safe. Check the locks on all doors and windows to make sure that they function.
Would it be easy for someone to tamper with a lock and get entry into your apartment? Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to confirm they are in working order. Ask your landlord how often they replace the batteries and test the alarms.
Make sure you do a sweep of the entire apartment complex, not just the unit you’ll be living in. Is there a security system for entry into the main gate or main door? Is there adequate lighting in the hallways and in the parking lot? Do a walk-through of the entire complex to make sure it meets and exceeds your personal safety standards.
- Check out this Rental Property Safety Checklist
Create Your Own Apartment Essentials Checklist
Before you view any apartment, make a checklist of important things you want to note or see. Make a list of the price you want to pay, the location you want to be in, and the amenities you want included.
Here’s a handy Rental Search Checklist you can download and print to bring along with you during your apartment search – Rental Search Checklist
Once you have a checklist, visit sites such as Apartments.com and ApartmentList.com to create a list of apartments that meet your criteria. By doing a bit of homework online, you can make your apartment search a whole lot easier.
If you’re ready to go on the hunt for a great apartment, keep this list of tips and tricks in mind. Know how to avoid scams and fraudulent landlords. Size up your landlord during the first showing to get a feel for who they are and how they might treat you as a tenant. Take note of common walls if you’re sensitive to noise. Inspect the apartment for safety issues and security concerns.