Moving can be an exciting but stressful time for any apartment tenant. The physical labor of hauling your belongings from one place to the next is exhausting, and the mental undertaking of deciding where to live is often worse. Here are a few things to watch out for when looking for a new apartment. It may not cut out all of the work, but being prepared with a list will at least cut down on the stress.
Commute is key when looking for a new apartment. Money saved on rent may be quickly eaten by gas prices if your new place means a long drive to work, the grocery store, or other frequently visited locations. If an apartment will allow you to carpool with a friend, this is definitely a benefit worthy of consideration. If driving is not your method of transportation, determining walking/biking distances and bus schedules is a task to complete before signing any papers.
Setting a budget before you start to look for an apartment is important, one of the points to consider is that while some apartments include water, sewer, and trash fees in the rent, many others do not. Depending on your area, these costs can reach $100 or more a month, even for a small apartment. If you will be paying for these services in addition to your regular rent, ask the apartment manager what utility company they use, and its number. This way you can call to find out the average cost of utilities at that particular complex, and determine if it will still fit your budget.
Decide how much space you will need to be happy and to fit your stuff. This is a good time to think about what you might be able to let go, if anything. You may find that you are a person who really needs space, or maybe you would be willing to sacrifice some square footage if it meant a place with newer appliances and better amenities. It is all about what is important to you, so plan accordingly.
Don’t Sign Without Seeing the Apartment
This might seem like common sense, but a lot of landlords will show you a model, or tell you the apartment you will be moving into isn’t ready to be viewed yet. The unit you are shown can be quite different from what they are trying to sell you. Appliance, window, and carpet conditions are all points you should be able to judge for yourself before you sign a lease. Even if you don’t mind there being a little wear and tear in your new place, you need to have it noted so that you aren’t paying for it yourself later.
Windows and Insulation
Apartment managers will often have sills newly painted to cover up any mold issues when a new tenant makes an inspection. Be sure to have a thorough search around the windows and look for any signs of wear or dampness. Old single pane windows will often have these issues in the winter, and keeping mildew out can be a problem even for tenants expecting to clean them often. Water leaking is not the only concern with single panes. They may also be a cost factor in colder months, or if trying to cool the apartment with air conditioning in the summer. Good insulation can save time cleaning, as well as money.
Decide which amenities you care about, inside the apartment itself, and within the complex. Will you use a pool, sauna, or gym? Do you need a washer and dryer in your unit, or is a well lit, safe laundry room located on the grounds enough for you? When considering amenities, think about not only what you do not want to live without, but also what you might be charged for that you really don’t need. There is no sense in paying higher rent for an indoor pool and racquetball court that you will never use.
Decide what rules and regulations might be a problem for you, and which will help you to feel more comfortable in your new home. If you are a grill enthusiast, a “no barbecue” policy is a definite minus, but you may decide it’s worth it if other regulations make it a safer and quieter place to live. One of the most important points to consider may be the pet policy. Is your beloved animal welcome, and if so, what is the deposit cost? Also ask the landlord[ if there is a pet rent in addition to deposits, as these can add up over time. Even if you do not have a pet now, consider whether you may want one in the future, and if it would be possible in your new home.
There is nothing more crucial than feeling safe, wherever you live. Location and amenities do not seem so important if you are kept awake worrying about intruders or car thieves. When you visit any rental, take a look around at your neighbors and their vehicles. Loiterers, overcrowded parking lots, and signs of break-ins are all glaring signs to steer clear. Even if the place looks alright upon first inspection, it is a good idea to check back at different times of day, if possible. It is also a good policy to check with the local police department. A landlord may tell you it’s safe, but the police can tell you exactly what sort of crimes have occurred at that complex. It is all public record.
Check the apartment building itself for security issues, too. All windows and doors should lock easily. They should be structurally sound, and doors should have deadbolts. Some apartments have alarm systems available in each unit, and this can go a long way to making you feel safer in a new place.
Many places require renter’s insurance, and this should be factored in when determining the cost of living. Sometimes it will save you money on car insurance, so check with your insurance provider before letting renter’s insurance scare you away from a property. If they require an unusually high amount of renter’s insurance at any apartment complex, however, this may be a red flag. Often these are places with known issues such as flooding or pest problems. Be careful lest you find out too late that the pipes are old and you’ll be using your insurance when one finally bursts. Not all possessions can be replaced.
Find out if there is an adequate maintenance staff for the complex, and how they can be reached. Be wary of renting anywhere that does not have a number you can call after hours for maintenance emergencies. No one wants to live in an apartment where major issues are not promptly serviced.