Moving out of your dorm room or your parents’ house? You’re probably looking for the perfect new pad and dream about the newfound independence that comes with it. Though, if you’ve never gone apartment hunting, you’re probably wondering what you need to look for in your next apartment. You can’t just settle for anything, but finding everything you need for a price you can afford is difficult! Here is what you need to look for in your next apartment!
1. Location, location, location!
This one kind of seems like a given. Of course you’re going to consider the location of your next apartment! But here are some things that you may not be thinking about. Is your apartment close to your job? How about the grocery store? Your favorite coffee shop? You want to be close to all those things. If it is great! Now consider what you don’t want it to be close to. Is there a factory nearby? Is there a public school and will the morning and afternoon traffic clog up your main road home? Is there a bar with loud customers near you? Is the city getting ready to tear down a building or start construction on the road? All of these situations could make living in your new apartment difficult. They seem like minor inconveniences, but having to deal with them every day will wear on your patience.
2. Price per square foot
This may seem like a self-explanatory criteria to consider when looking for a new apartment. You might even think you don’t care too much. But really think about it. What if you’ve narrowed down your options to two or three places and you’re having a hard time deciding which one to choose? Consider how much space you’re getting for you money. Maybe one apartment is cheaper than another, but how does that price compare to the space? An apartment that’s 608 square feet might cost you $615 a month depending on where the apartment is located. That rent sounds reasonable for your budget, and it’s cheaper than the other apartment that has 720 square feet for $650 a month. It doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but the cheaper apartment will cost you over a $1 per square foot, and the more expensive one costs only 90 cents per square foot. $650 may be more than $615, but you’re getting more space for your buck when you look at price per square foot in your next apartment.
3. Amenities/Pet policy
This goes without saying, but what additional benefits does the complex offer? Is there a nice gym? What about a swimming pool? Does the officer have a business center with a printer in case you need to use it? Is there a basketball court? A dog park? Speaking of pets, will they let your furry friend move in with you? Some complexes won’t allow certain breeds of dogs, so you need to check with the leasing office to determine if you can bring your pet with you. If your pet is allowed, how much is the deposit? Some complexes only charge $150 for a deposit when you move in, but it’s more common that they’ll ask for a deposit of $300 or more. That’s going to add on to your move-in cost. Extra benefits and the pet policy are important things to consider when looking for your next apartment.
4. Washer/dryer hookup or laundry center?
How often do you do your laundry? If you’re the type of person that can do your laundry once a week in one load, it might be more cost efficient for you to use a laundromat or the community laundry center at your complex. If you don’t have a washer and dryer, you have to consider the cost of buying both appliances and how much they’ll add to your utilities bill each month. Before you even consider that, though, you need to check if your apartment comes with a washer/dryer hookup or if they offer a community laundry center. Laundry centers in apartment complexes are usually cheaper than your standard laundry mat, so if there are no hookups, make sure they offer an on-site laundry center. If the complex offers neither of these options, you might want to consider crossing that one off the list.
Unless you’re a handy expert, things go wrong in apartments all the time that require a professional. Something might happen to the wiring or the plumbing that isn’t an easy fix. What is the maintenance like in the complex? Do they offer 24/7 maintenance? Emergencies happen, so you need to make sure the complex has an explicitly stated policy about emergency maintenance with a phone number you can call. While you’re considering the complex, you should try and test the number out. You don’t actually need to talk to anyone, but trying calling the emergency number once or twice at random times to make sure the number works and that someone answers. If that’s the case, you can trust that the complex takes the safety and functionality of your apartment seriously, and this is one more thing you can cross of the list as you look for your next apartment.
This also seems like a given, but you need to really consider the safety of your next apartment. Safety is too often sacrificed for price or convenience of the location, but you need to seriously consider the crime rates in the complex and surrounding areas. Do you notice cop cars frequently when you drive by the complex? If you do a quick Google search that includes “crime rate” and the name of the complex, what pops up? No matter where you live, bad things can happen, but it’s best to avoid complexes where bad things seem to consistently happen. You also need to think about the safety of the building itself, not just the crime rates. Are there old appliances that could potentially be a fire hazard? Do you notice any exposed wiring or loose plug outlets? Do you notice water damage or mold? Does it look the complex is falling apart on the outside? How clean is the apartment and the property of the complex? The apartment may not be safe if any of these concerns pop up. You also need to pay attention to bugs for your safety! If you notice dead bugs in the corners of the apartment while you’re touring, that isn’t a good thing! If the complex has roaches or any kind of bug problem, that could potentially mean a bed bug problem, and that is not good for your health and safety.
7. Demographics in the complex
Pay close attention to who lives in the complex when you’re looking for your next apartment. Is it mostly older people? Mostly families and children? Are there lots of college students? The demographics of the complex will often determine how loud or quiet it is. If you mostly have older tenants, you can probably bet on some peace and quiet. Families may not too loud either, but there could be lots of kids running around, which makes it difficult to feel comfortable driving in the complex. Plus, if you don’t like kids, you probably don’t want to live in a complex where there are a lot of children. If mostly college students live in the complex, there will probably be loud parties, lots of visitors which means limited parking, or there could be a potential for drug activity. If you are about any of these things, you need to consider who your neighbors are when looking for your next apartment.
8. Utilities and Wifi included?
Some complexes will include water, electric, trash, and Wifi in your bill or cover one of those utilities so you don’t have to worry about it. If you get really lucky, you’ll find that apartment that might be slightly higher in rent, but it covers water and electric and you’ll end up saving yourself a whole bunch of money. Complexes that don’t include any of these things means your monthly bills are going to add up. If you have to pay for rent, water, electric, trash, sewage, gas, and Wifi each month, your seemingly low rent of $450-$600 could quickly add up to you actually paying close to $900 a month to live in the apartment. Look for complexes that try to lessen your monthly expenses by covering at least one of those utilities. It’s important to save as much money as possible when looking for your next apartment!
This may not seem like too big of a deal, but try bringing home a month’s worth of groceries after deciding to live in a complex with limited parking so you find yourself having to talk across a parking lot in addition to the three flights of stairs to get everything inside. Make sure that the complex clearly provides enough spaces for each unit so everyone has a good place to park. Additionally, you’ll want to look into their parking policies. Some complexes charge you for a monthly parking pass and tow any cars without a pass. You need to look into the cost of the pass to determine if it’s worth it. Do they charge for a visitor pass, too? Or do they have a free visitor parking lot? If you’re looking at an apartment in the downtown area of a city, you need to check if there is street parking or if you’ll need to park in a parking garage. You have to make sure it’s not a hassle to get from your car to your home when looking for your next apartment!
10. Do you need a roommate to afford it?
This is the most important question of all. At the end of the day, you may find the perfect complex to live in, but you simply can’t afford it without a roommate. The price of living has gone up in almost every city in the US, so until you have your dream job, you might have to consider living with a roomie to afford your next apartment. If you’re the type of person who loves to live alone, then you’ll need to make sure you have the job to support your monthly expenses. If you don’t mind living with another person, then a lot of possibilities will open up for you! Even though you’ll be looking for a two bedroom apartment, your monthly expenses will be at least $100-$300 cheaper with a roommate.