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How to Choose Your First Apartment

Updated on August 8, 2012

Choose Wisely for Your First Apartment

It can be exciting to look for your first apartment; it can also be overwhelming. You may be a college student moving out of the dorms or you may have just graduated college or decided to move out of your parents' home. Getting your very own first place is a big decision that should be given plenty of forethought and planning.

Decide what features you want in your first apartment.

Are washer and dryer hookups on your list of must-haves?
Are washer and dryer hookups on your list of must-haves? | Source

Shop Around For Your First Apartment

Do research before you visit an apartment complex. Be willing to spend some time looking for the right place instead of settling on the first one you stop at.

Step One.

Know what the average prices are. Compare apartments with the kind you are looking for and see what the price range is. For instance, if you want a one-bedroom unit, see what other single bedroom units are renting for. You might also look at studio apartments to compare prices.

Once you know the price range, settle on your own price in the middle of that range. Anything lower and it will probably not be kept up as well or will be in a less desirable part of town. This range will serve as your guide for the rest of your apartment search.

Step Two.

Get recommendations from friends and check with the Better Business Bureau. You want to find a place with a good reputation for your first apartment. While you can expect to see some complaints listed on the BBB, find out how they were resolved. If the apartment owners did not respond, that may indicate that they won't be responsive to you if you have a problem.

Step Three.

Create a list for yourself on what you need or want in an apartment. Is location important to you? Do you want a swimming pool? Once you write down everything you can think of, rank the items from absolutely necessary to "it would be nice" and concentrate on finding places that have your top requirements.

Some of the most important things to consider adding to your list include the following:

  • Good location
  • Adequate parking
  • Security - locks on the building entrance or away from the ground floor
  • 24-hour maintenance for emergencies

You will think of other things that you cannot do without.

Step Four.

Look at websites of apartments you are interested in. You can often find out much about a company and the apartments before you leave home. Many of them will have photos of apartments, some will even have a blog or newsletter. This lets you know they take their tenants seriously.

Make sure everything works properly.

Leaking faucets can be the sign of other maintenance issues.
Leaking faucets can be the sign of other maintenance issues. | Source

Make an Appointment to Tour a Rental

Call the phone number and set up a time you can meet to look at one of their apartments. Before you arrive, have a list of questions that you will want answered before you leave. Arrive on time or early; being late makes them wonder if you will be that way with payment.

Take your time on the tour to look at the entire apartment. If it is an empty apartment that is used for show, look in cabinets and closets. Realize that this will be in the best shape since they are showing it, but you can still get a feel for the layout and design.

Ask about move in and move out procedures. Find out if you will be able to see your apartment before you sign the lease. Ask how long the lease is for and any other questions you may be concerned with.

Observe the apartment complex. Notice the ages of tenants or visitors and the noise level of the area. You can ask about the demographics of the complex, but landlords are not supposed to disclose age or other categorizing factors of their residents. You will have to rely on your own powers of observation. Keeping this in mind, you may want to drive through the complex again in the evening or on a weekend to learn more about the area.

Tips for Choosing Your First Apartment

  1. Take someone with you as a second pair of eyes and ears, but do not take a whole group. Not only can it give the landlord a bad impression, it can distract you from learning about the complex.
  2. Look and act professional when you meet with the landlord or leasing agent. Treat this like a job interview since you will be interviewing to become a tenant while you are also interviewing the company.
  3. Don't be pressured into deciding on the spot. Look at other apartments to have a comparison and then make your decision.

Finding your first apartment is exciting; make sure it's a place you will enjoy living.


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