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Apartment Hunting - How To Guide

Updated on March 18, 2012

I will be moving the week of July 1st. Though some people feel I am beginning my search a little earlier than they feel I need to I think that I am taking a pro active approach. In the past there was a time I procrastinated and wound up homeless. There have been cases where ea, frustrated apartment hunters settled for something beside what they wanted. Quick decisions led to disappointment and poor judgement.

Preparation is the key. Your first step should be determining what you can afford. When searching on line be sure the search criteria includes the number maximum cost, number of bedroom and if you have any specific requests such as air conditioning, locations include those in the search. When you find a place that you might be interested in some websites have reviews from past tenants that have come in handy. Ask your family or friends if they've had any experience or know anyone who may have lived in either that particular place or that neighborhood. Make calls, set up times to view the apartment, townhouses, condo or house you are interested in renting.

When viewing places in apartment buildings listen, are the annoying sounds, overwhelming cooking smells, to you see bugs, mice, do the grounds appear clean, is their ample parking, poor maintenance, are the hallways clear of debris, the apartments clean, do you like the size, location and easy highway access? What utilities are paid for, which ones are your responsibility? Ask what amenities are included? Don't be fooled by the list you saw on line or in print, be sure to ask. The list may say cable and Internet yet it means they are accessible, they are not offered as part of the apartment there cost is above and beyond the rent. Are there laundry facilities? What are the hours of operation? One place I visited had a 24 hrs laundry room available yet once the front office is closed you can only access it from the outside entrance. Some locations have the same rules for commonly used areas such as a game room, gym area, front lobby and so on. Be sure you know all the areas that are available to you and the time frames. By asking all the right questions can alleviate you from being in a lease, in an apartment you are not happy with.

Another factor in your decision making, what would the commute to work be like? How long a drive to visit family and friends? By beginning your search early and taking time to view different places you are more likely to be successful in your search for the right place to live. My initial search began on line. I viewed Craigslist,, used google search quite often and I am still in the process of searching. One apartment complex I viewed has a program called future tenant that I signed up for. This means that the end of May I will receive a call to let me know what units they have available and in what location. This is a company has 8 locations that I could choose from however I can't afford all of the locations so I have it narrowed down to 3 that I would be happy with. This doesn't mean my search is over, I will continue through the end of May then a decision will need to be made.

I recall when the only avenue you had to search for apartments was a few lines in the classified ads that didn't offer much information. Now, with the Internet there's so much more to view and it makes the ability to search for rentals so much easier. The amount of knowledge is incredible. To narrow down your search, pick specific criteria such as the town on cities you prefer, the number of bedrooms and the minimum and max that you can afford. Also, let family, friends and coworkers know that you are planning to move. Sometimes the best rentals places are found by word of mouth. There are landlords that only rent to someone who knows someone. They rely on this as a safety net for themselves. They want to be sure they are renting to a responsible person. You could drive around the areas that you are interested in as well. Some landlords post in the windows or on the front door, apartment for rent. Also you have the ability to post to Craigslist in the real estate section that you are looking for an apartment. Be sure to list your criteria and if you are going to look at a place that you either found of Craigslist or someone messaged you about make sure you have your cell phone, that someone knows where you are going and better yet, take someone else with you. You can never be to careful.

While checking out the possibility of living in any of the units you've gone to see be sure to ask either the management or landlord lots of questions. Some of the things you should inquire about are: how quickly maintenance issues are solved, how often common areas are cleaned and trash is picked-up. If you have the opportunity, also ask these questions of residents if there are any in the area while you are looking the place over. As I stated earlier you can google on line reviews. What are the tenants like? Younger, older, college age, are their children? If you have school age children you'll want to ask about local schools are like. Are there play grounds in the area? Is the area safe? You may consider contacting the police department to see if they can offer any information. If you are able to you could go back to the apartment buildings or view the neighborhood at different times throughout the day, drive by on your way to work, go during your lunch hour, on the way home from work or later in the evening. This will give you a better feel about what it would be like living there. Find out if a lease is required. If they don't have a lease agreement what are your rights as a tenant? What ever you do, before you sign anything be sure you understand what you are signing and ask what your rights as a tenant are. You may want to contact either the City or Town Hall and ask what rules / laws are on the books for tenants rights. Each city or town is different. Happy Hunting!!


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