Looking for and finding the right apartment is hard work — and if it’s your first time renting, it can be an overwhelming experience if you don’t know what to look for. Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a place of your own.
A solid neighborhood
While that perfect, cozy one-bedroom with lots of windows and hardwood floors may seem like a gem, if it backs up to a four-lane highway or becomes a playground for some sketchy activity in the evenings, suddenly you may feel less than rosy about your new digs. Make sure you do your research, especially if you’re moving to an area you’re not familiar with. Check online to see if there are any flags for convicted sexual offenders or if there are city guides that outline what to expect in different neighborhoods. Better yet, if you find a place you’re interested in, plan to make a couple visits during different times of the day and see if you can catch one of your potential neighbors and ask them a few questions about the area or what they like about living there.
The number of bedrooms and bathrooms that you want
Another thing you’ll want to consider is how many bedrooms you can live with. Are you planning on finding a roommate or going solo? Do you have family that visits often? If you are planning on having a roommate, can you live with having to share a bathroom? These are all questions you’ll want to ask yourself before deciding on a place. You’ll also want to consider that the interior may look a whole lot of more spacious without furniture moved in. If you’re able, you may want to map out where your largest pieces of furniture will go and walk around to see if you feel like there’s still ample space.
When looking to rent, you should also keep an eye out for its proximity to public transportation, restaurants, bars or anything else you find a necessity for your day-to-day. For example if there’s no in-unit washer and dryer, you will probably want to research where the nearest laundromat is. Additionally, you’ll want to take your lifestyle in consideration. If you’re someone who likes to be in the center of activity, you may want to look for an apartment in a more lively part of time, or if you’re more of the quiet type, a spot off the main drag would most likely be a better fit.
Online service options
Many apartment complexes and property management companies have moved the majority of their administrative functions online, which is a huge bonus for both parties involved. Some of the best online rent payment service options allow renters to skip writing and mailing a monthly check entirely, and instead give renters access to a mobile app with an array of payment methods, including both credit and debit card options.
A flexible lease
Before you agree on any kind of legal terms, make sure you’re comfortable with the lease agreement. If you’re considering travelling and want to sublet your apartment in the interim, you’ll want to make sure that’s something allowed in the terms of the lease. Of, if you live a bit of a transient lifestyle you’re probably not going to want to commit to a long-term lease.
A close commuting distance
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when renting an apartment is not considering its proximity to your job. Initially a 35-mile commute may seem like no big deal…but add in weekday traffic and the day-to-day routine and you could be looking at an hour more each way in the car or on public transportation. In some cases, distance can’t be avoided, but if you can, save yourself a headache and opt for something that’s 20 minutes or closer from places you work, volunteer or need to be on a regular basis throughout the week.
Save yourself a huge headache and look for rentals that include resident parking or a place with at least one reserved space per unit. Especially in larger urban areas, there’s really nothing worse than circling a neighborhood after a long day, only to have to hike half a mile back to your apartment.