So you’re on the hunt for a new apartment! If this is your first go-round with apartment hunting, it can be a little daunting…scary even. There are so many options to decide if you need or want. How many bedrooms are you looking for? How many bathrooms do you need? Do you want a larger living area or a larger kitchen? How about storage? Do you need a big closet to store your clothes, or would you rather have a large pantry? There are so many choices!
You want to make sure that the apartment is clean, and in good shape when you move in. Always take good notes, and photos, of the place when you do your walkthrough with the landlord so that there is proof of any pre-existing damage. That way, you’re less likely to be blamed for it when you move out. This isn’t something that happens often, but if you could the wrong manager, it may very well happen to you.
Most properties give you a form to fill out when you do your walkthrough with the manager before they hand you your keys. Fill that out completely. Pay attention to stains in carpet or on tile, holes in the walls (from nails, etc. if there are any), chipped tile or ripped carpet. These are all things management will inspect when you move out.
Nobody wants to be cramped when they’re in their apartment, so make sure that you have enough room. Ensure that there is enough space for all of your belongings without feeling like you’re playing a game of ‘hot lava’ to get from one place to the next. Make sure you can move freely without tripping over things.
Don’t cram everyone into a small area. If you’ve got more than two kids, don’t cram all them into a small bedroom together. (Now, I understand that sometimes you don’t have a choice, I’ve been there. Sometimes, it’s all you can afford) Try to give them some breathing room. You’ll thank yourself when you can send them to separate rooms to cool down when they’re getting on each other’s nerves.
A bit of a repeat from the last point, but make sure that you have enough room for all of your belongings. I’ll never forget when I moved from a three-bedroom, two-bath, two-story townhome into a TINY two-bedroom apartment. There was nowhere near enough room for all of my belongings and I had to get rid of a lot. It was disappointing, but it was all I could afford after my divorce.
CHECK EVERYTHING. Check the smoke detectors and ask when the batteries were changed last. Check carbon monoxide detectors and ask when those batteries were changed last. Check the electrical outlets. Make sure they are secure to the wall. Check any electric areas to make sure there are no wires hanging or loose. Check all the switches to make sure the lights all work. Ensure all bulbs are lit.
Nobody wants jerk neighbors.
Ask the manager about the people in the building. Ask if the previous tenants had any issues with the apartments directly below/above or beside you. Ask about noise complaints.
Make sure that you’re in a good neighborhood. Nobody wants to have to worry about themselves when they’re home, or their belongings when they’re away. It doesn’t have to be a Ritz Carlton type area around you, but if you can afford it, try to avoid the areas with high crime rates.
If you’re lower on the income spectrum, take extra precautions such as ensuring a working latch lock, maybe an extra deadbolt. I’m the type of person who would put security cameras up, no matter which neighborhood I was in.
What type of amenities do you need? Do you have to have a washer in house, or can you handle going to the laundry room, or out to a laundry mat? Do you need a dishwasher, or are you ok washing them by hand? Are you looking to have a rec room available to host parties in? What about a pool?
Do you require central air? Or is a window AC sufficient? How about a pet policy? Your furry friend will not be welcome in every complex. Make sure they’re allowed. They will likely require an additional amount for a security deposit and an additional amount for ‘pet rent.’ Keep that in mind when apartment searching.
If you’re like me, a little extra security is a good thing. If that’s what you’re looking for, find an apartment that has a gated entrance. Some buildings just require an extra key to get in through the front door. Some sort of locked entrance can ease some of the security issues you may have.
You can also look for apartment buildings that have security cameras on them. I’m not sure if this is something that is standard, or not, but if you’re looking for that little bit of extra comfort, it’s worth looking into. You can also install your own security cameras in your home. Just be sure to let management know that you are doing so and be sure not to damage anything when you do.
What kind of parking are you comfortable with? Do you mind parking on the street? Or would you rather have a designated spot? Some complexes don’t have designated spots per apartment, but they have spots reserved for only tenants. Do you want a garage to park in to protect your car if you live in an area that frequently has bad weather?
Another thing to consider is if the apartment has parking at all. Some places in bigger cities, like New York City, don’t have any parking. So many people use public transportation it’s not always necessary.
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