Whether you’re moving into your first apartment or your fifth, knowing what you want during the search is all-important. I’m coming up on my third move since graduating from college, and I can definitively say that I have some must haves and deal breakers.
Before you even begin your apartment hunt, figure out a budget that you’re comfortable with. Make sure you include rent, utilities, parking, trash, cable, Internet, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. To cover yourself add a cushion for fees such as application, admin, holding, and deposit. If you have a pet, make sure to ask about the deposit and monthly rent.
Create a list of non-negotiables for you. This will be different for everybody, so make sure you take some time to think about it. For me, I insist on stainless steel appliances, stone (like granite) countertops, mostly or similar to hardwood flooring, pantry, washer/dryer included or hook-ups in unit, included covered parking or garage, and not facing a busy road or parking garage.
This list may seem random to some, but over the years I’ve learned what I want. This list should also include how many bedrooms you need, if the pool and gym are adequate, the location, if a patio is included, and any other important features.
I’m partial to Google Maps. This is where I start most of my searches for food, shopping, etc. – so it’s second nature for me to use it when looking for apartments. I think it’s a great place to start your search so you can find the area you’re most interested in based on nearby grocery stores, restaurants, shops, work, and school. Once you find apartments in your desired location, you can start visiting websites and browse floor plans, rent, amenities, and their photo/video gallery.
If you prefer to use an online apartment locator website, you’ll have several to choose from. Find one that works for your needs and is easy for you to understand. From there search for apartments based on rent range, rooms needed, location, and other included filters.
Once you start visiting apartment websites and gaining more information on properties, it’s a good idea to start a spreadsheet to keep everything organized. For a simple spreadsheet include the apartment names, rent, additional fees, location, and miscellaneous notes.
Visit the Properties
Awesome, you’ve narrowed down your apartments to the top picks and you’re ready to visit the properties. Make sure to have your spreadsheet easily accessible to edit and add more notes too.
It’s also a good idea to list out any questions you have or want to be verified by the leasing agent. Once you get dazzled by the apartments, it’s easy to forget your questions and concerns.
As you walk through the apartments, check faucets, open drawers and cabinets, step out onto the patio – basically make yourself at home. Try to envision yourself living there, with all your furniture and stuff! Take note of noises, distance to the garage, etc.
Once you finish your walkthrough and have all your questions answered, be sure to get the leasing agent’s name and email/phone number with the property’s info.
Make Your Decision
I would never suggest for you to make a rash decision, but try to choose your new home as quickly as possible. Don’t feel pressured by the leasing agent, but do be aware that “prime” apartments do go quickly.
When you’re ready to commit to a place, you’ll fill out an application (online or in person) and go through the necessary steps to make it official. Read through your contract carefully and make sure to call out anything that needs to be revised. Once you’re all done, breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate! Then start thinking about planning the move.
I hope this overview was helpful to those of you about to begin the apartment hunt or for those of you planning ahead! Do you have any other tips to add?