10 Tips to Pick the Right Apartment
1. Make Sure the Apartment Fits Your Personality
Know who you are and the type apartment that will fit your personality. Looking at the big picture, you are searching for an apartment that will positively enhance your lifestyle. This sounds like a large order, but it really isn't. You may just be discovering who you are as an individual. In fact, from an early age, you may know the type of environment where you are comfortable and have peace of mind. For example, maybe you abhor loud noises, especially if the sounds come from some other place other than your own. On the other hand, maybe you like peace and quiet; a place you can come home to -- to relax, exercise, cook, etc. and know that serene quietness and silence await you. There are lots of apartments available that fit the above criteria. You just have to find the right apartment that fits you.
2. Know How Much Rent You can Afford to Pay for Apartment
Now that you know who you are and the apartment environment you prefer, the next step is to quickly analyze your finances. I say quick, because, I see no need to delve into a lot of mathematical details about how much money you spend, where you spend it, how much you have left, or some other type calculations of this nature. The odds are that you are already in a living situation, and know the approximate amount of money you can afford to pay for rent. Just make sure you have the money to cover your rent as well as the other incidentals that come with renting such as electricity, water, etc.
You do not want to move into your dream apartment only to have to break your lease and move out because you can't afford the rent, along with the utilities, water, sewage, trash pick-up fees, cable, internet, and other expenses.
If you found an apartment and the rent is higher that you expected, you could consider having a roommate to share the costs. Be careful though. I've seen horro stories of roommate disputes on the Judge Judy show and other similar type televisionshows. My advice if you decided to have roommate, is to pick him or her carefully.
3. Diligently Search for Your Apartment
Now it's time to search for your apartment. Start your apartment search by having a general idea of the area you would like to stay. As you know, there are lots of apartments you can find from apartment searches, including of course Craig's list and even eBay.
A note of caution here -- Do not decide on an apartment based on pictures alone. If possible, actually visit the apartment complex. And remember -- visit at night as well as during the day. You want to be sure your apartment is in an area where you would feel safe coming home at night as well as during the daylight hours.
4. Find Your Specific Type of Apartment
Decide on the type of apartment you want. For example, do you prefer a townhouse apartment, a tall high-rise apartment, mid-rise apartment, loft apartment, garden apartment or another type of apartment. Once you decide on the type, you can narrow down your choices and not waste time looking at apartments that do not interest you.
5. Read Apartment Reviews
Check out the apartment ratings reviews online or whereever this information is available. Some people say that actual satisfied renters do not take the time to write apartment reviews. Instead reviews are written by the rental management and staff, Additionally, sometimes it looks as if only the disgruntled renters take the time to review apartments.
Some of this is true, but I see real value in checking out apartment reviews. Sometimes, inadvertently from the comments, you can tell if the apartment is for you. For instance, if someone comments, there are strange looking insects here and the cannot wait to leave when their lease is up, strike that apartment off your list quickly. Even if this information is not true, why take the chance? However, if you really have your mind set on this particular apartment, you can also check it out -- just remember to not sign a lease unless you are absolutely sure you are moving in.
Do you check apartment reviews when you search for an apartment?
6. Inspect the Apartment Before You Sign the Lease
There is an array of information on the web and other sources on what to look for when inspecting apartments so I won't discuss that here. But I will add something that I found out on my own when I rented an apartment awhile back relative to air conditioning noise. Be sure to test the thermostat noise. Just turn the temperature gauge off and on (if the apartment has one). Is the apartment still quiet, or does the air conditioning make irritating buzzing noises that goes on and on? If the noise does not bother you, then no problem. If the noise does bother you, you may want to rethink choosing this apartment. Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons. For example, maybe there is annoying air conditioning noise, but the apartment has other features that you are satisfied with such as stylish high ceilings, etc. Your decision to rent the apartment would be based on whether or not you are willing to make tradeoffs.
7. Choose the Right Size Apartment
If you are someone who needs a lot of living space around them, you will not be comfortable cooped up in a tiny apartment. On the other hand, the size of the apartment may not mean much to you. I've stayed in an apartment where the square footage was less than that of a regular hotel room with a bed only. I sacrificed the size of the apartment for its safe location, its style, covered parking and it was brand new. However, after a year I moved out since I discovered I preferred more living space. Maybe you do too.
Remember, sometimes apartment living is for a short term, so depending on your circumstances, you may elect to stay at a small apartment temporarily. However, if you plan to stay longer than a year, be sure the living space is adequate for you.
8. Always Inspect the Apartment Before Signing a Lease
Before you sign a lease, always thoroughly inspect the apartment you will actually be renting. You may be told the apartment is not available because the current residents have not moved out yet. Still be sure to look at your apartment before you sign the lease, if you can. Additionally, inspect your apartment thoroughly after you move in, especially if you want your security deposit back. That being said, I highly recommend you check out your apartment before your move-in day. If you do, complete the rental inspection list, or you can make a list of your own of anything that is not to your liking. Make sure the landlord receives your inspection check list.
9. Take into Account Your Commute Time
If you are not working from home, another consideration is the commute to and from work-- that is if you prefer to drive instead of car pooling, riding the bus, etc. A short commute, in addition to saving you time, will also save you money in gas and upkeep to your car. Bottom line, getting to and from work should be one of your cost considerations as part of your overall apartment hunting plan.
10. Be Safe at Your New Apartment
Last but not least, your safety and security is important. If you do not feel safe in an apartment complex, I implore you to find somewhere else to stay if you can. Trust your gut instinct. A common mantra is to put safety first -- this holds true for apartment as well as any other type of living.
I could probably write a book on apartment living, but will stop here. The main takeaways (in a nutshell) are to choose an apartment that fits you, your living preferences and your budget, and one that is most of all safe.
Enjoy your new apartment!