Are you renting your first apartment? Or maybe it’s the first time you’ve rented on your own without someone else doing the legwork first?
Renters comprise about 30% of the housing market, so you’re not alone when it comes to looking for your dream rental. But what should you look for in a rental home or apartment?
There are a few crucial things to look for in an apartment. Rejecting a few places upfront is better than finding out you don’t like the place after you’ve rented it.
Learn how to narrow your options and get a place that works for you and your budget.
Keep reading and we’ll clue you in on things to look for in an apartment.
1. Make Sure It’s Affordable
A budget is paramount. Make a budget and be realistic. Make sure you know what you can afford.
When budgeting, account for a few unexpected expenses each month. What if your car needs new tires?
Do you spend a lot of money going out to restaurants and movies? Will you cut back or always worry about making the rent?
These are important considerations. The budget is the first thing you need. Once you know your housing allotment, you’re ready to go.
Remember that extra amenities are nice but not if they put you into debt. The first thing you’re looking for in an apartment is a place you can afford.
2. Location, Location, Location
You’ve found the best place and it fits into your budget but it’s a 40-mile commute to work. Is that for you? Decide what works for you and stick to it.
If you know you’ll be late with a 45-minute commute every morning, don’t rent a place that far from work.
It’s often the case that getting the perfect place in the right price range means a bit of a commute. But take into account the costs of driving or public transportation. Wear and tear on your car along with the cost of gas isn’t trivial.
Train and subway rides add up over the course of the year. Many employers offer financial incentives for using public transportation. Find out if your employer does and if it’s workable for you.
Is there a grocery store nearby? What other conveniences do you use every day? Make sure you can function day to day without too many extra stressors.
An apartment locator is a big help when it comes to finding the location that best suits your needs.
3. Visit the Neighborhood
You’ve found the neighborhood, you’re okay with the commute, and the place looks great! Perfect, right? Not quite.
Visit the neighborhood at varying hours of the day and night. Check it out on the weekends. Is it a noisy party place on Saturday nights?
If you own a car, make sure there’s plenty of parking on-premises. What seems like a minor inconvenience can turn into a major headache after a few weeks or months. And speaking of conveniences…
4. Assess the Laundry Situation
Make sure the laundry situation works for you. Not all apartments have a washer and dryer in the unit. Laundry might be in a basement or common room.
That’s not always bad but make sure you know before you commit. If there are only two washers and dryers for 50 units, that’s a problem! Going to a laundromat isn’t convenient.
Be realistic about what you do and don’t have time for. If you need a washer and dryer in your unit, make it a non-negotiable.
5. Meet the Landlord
When you’re renting, you’re often at the mercy of your landlord. If the heat goes out and it’s 20 degrees outside, is the landlord accessible?
Knock on a few nearby apartment doors and talk to the neighbors. What’s the general opinion of the landlord? Is the landlord nosy?
Does the landlord have unreasonable expectations? Does he respond to complaints or issues? Make sure you’re good with the situation before signing on the dotted line.
6. Building Safety
The building owner is responsible for making sure everything is up to code. But your safety ultimately rests with you. There are a few things you should check:
- Smoke detectors
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Fire-escape access
- Working heating and air system
- New locks for each new tenant
- No mold issues
- No major pest issues
Always make sure the locks are re-keyed or new when you move into a place. Check for working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Always make sure you have access to a fire escape if you’re not on the first floor.
Make sure the heating and air-conditioning work well. Do a sniff test. Does the place smell musty or moldy?
If you don’t have a lot of stuff, storage may not be a problem for you. But make sure there’s enough closet space. Ask if there’s additional storage for your unit.
A pet limits your rental choice options. If you’ve got a pet, make sure you’re clear on the policies. Ask about this before you bother with a showing.
If you’ve got a pet and they’re not allowed, they won’t make an exception for you. If you don’t have a pet and they are allowed, think about whether you’re okay living around a lot of pets.
9. Check the Lease
It’s hard reading the fine print but when it comes to renting, it’s essential! Read the entire lease. If you don’t understand something, check with someone who will.
A lease is an enforceable legal document. Once you sign, you’ve agreed to all the terms listed. When you’re moving in, be thorough on the walkthrough.
If you see anything amiss, make a note of it in writing for your landlord.
There Are Lots of Things to Look for in an Apartment
Finding a rental is sometimes overwhelming, and there are lots of things to look for in an apartment. Be patient and take your time.
Stick with your budget and know what inconveniences you can live with and what conveniences you can’t live without. Make sure the neighborhood works and the commute is doable.
Most leases are at least a year, so you’ll be glad you took the time to get it right!
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