Choosing a place to live is an important decision, even if you’re not committing to a home for life. Finding the right apartment proves challenging enough for those with great financial resources, but budget constraints make the search even more difficult. College students and recent graduates often jump into lease contracts without doing the proper research, and end up paying for their lack of foresight. Luckily, the tips below can lead you to the apartment that’s right for you.
Location, Location, Location
Location is not only important for those buying a home, but also for renters. You don’t want to end up in a dangerous area or a neighborhood that doesn’t suit your lifestyle. One way to assess different areas within a city is to ask long-time residents. If you don’t know any yourself, ask friends if they have any contacts in the area where you intend to live. Crime statistics may also be available online. Although neighborhood choice may not be as critical for renters, it can make a huge difference in your quality of life as a renter.
Start with Online Reviews
Online reviews can offer considerable insight into apartment problems and features. One or two revues aren’t enough to make an informed decision, but if a complex has several bad reviews mentioning similar problems you should probably pay attention. Visit a variety of sites to gain a general understanding of the pros and cons of the apartments available in the area.
A tight budget means compromising on amenities. You need to determine what features matter and which ones you can live without. Maybe you need plenty of storage space, but can live without a washer/dryer in unit. Just keep your must-have features in mind when deciding on an apartment.
If it Seems Too Good to be True…
Like any person or business, apartment complexes will put their best faces forward. Those nice pictures you see online? They aren’t always realistic. The best way to know what your apartment will be like is to look for yourself. If you’re moving far away, schedule several tours on one day to save money and time. Whatever you do, don’t sign a contract without seeing things for yourself.
Tips for Touring Potential Apartments
When visiting apartments, it’s important to pay careful attention to certain features and to ask the right questions. Some important questions to ask the manager:
– Is emergency maintenance available? What constitutes an emergency?
– How often are inspections conducted? Most apartments conduct maintenance inspections once per quarter.
– What kind of security does the complex have? Does a security officer live in the complex?
– Are pets allowed? Are there breed or weight limitations? What additional costs or deposits are required for pets?
– How old is the complex and have there been renovations? Generally, the newer the better.
– What appliances come with the unit and how old are they?
– What actions are taken to control noise disturbances and loitering?
Some things to take note of when you tour an apartment:
– Check carpets for staining. Many complexes leave stained carpets that should be replaced.
– Look at baseboards, ceilings, light fixtures. If these areas look dirty – run! Apartment complexes should thoroughly clean apartments between tenants. Lack of thorough cleaning indicates severe problems with management.
– Inspect appliances to insure proper function and cleanliness.
– Be aware of holes in walls or cracks around door frames. Open areas around doors or holes can let in cold/warm air, resulting in poor insulation and higher utility costs. These can also be an entry point for bugs.
A Good Apartment on a Budget
A couple of options may help you get the apartment features you desire while staying within your budget. The obvious choice is to find a roommate. While roommates can be risky, they can allow you to have a much better living space for half the cost. If you do decide to room with someone, choose your roommate as carefully as you would an apartment. Another option is to choose an apartment in a nearby (less expensive) town. Moving away from a city center can lead to much lower prices, and often spacier apartments. Just be sure you have reliable transportation to work or school and that the commute time will be bearable.