I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve moved in my adult life! The apartment search can be fun, but also overwhelming. This might be your first apartment, you’re moving to a new state, looking with roommates, or this is your first non-college apartment. It can be easy to look at all the fun stuff related to getting a new apartment, but you’ll also want to answer some real questions and consider these important tips while you are on your apartment search!
Set a budget
This is pretty simple, you should already know what you can afford for rent before you begin your apartment search and find your dream apartment that is totally out of your price range. When you set your budget it is so important to make a list of costs included vs. not included in rates. Apartment A may have all utilities and parking included and is $1,200, while Apartment B is $1,100 and the utilities are not included, but parking is free. If you don’t know the total amount you’re willing to spend, it will be hard to compare apartments when it comes down to the prices. If you need some tips on saving money I have a post here to help with that!
Decide on a time frame you plan to live there
This important because a certain style of apartment such as a studio, you may only want to live there for one year and you don’t need all of the amenities and such. It might just be a place to say for a little while. But if you want to find somewhere to stay for a bit more long term some of those amenities, may be non-negotiable.
Decide on your list of wants vs. needs
Do you need to live close to the metro or other public transportation? You can’t live without covered parking? These are a couple of things on my list—I need to live close to the metro so I can easily get to work in the city and I need covered parking for the winters here (I live in the DC area) nobody has time to shovel snow off their car lol. When we were looking for an apartment we preferred to live somewhere with an onsite gym. If we found our dream apartment and it didn’t have this we could have looked past that because it wasn’t essential it was just on our want list.
Read Reviews from tenants
Now, with all reviews like Yelp reviews, you can definitely tell when people are just being complaining about things that aren’t that serious. So I like to look across on three different platforms. I look at reviews from Google, apartments.com, and Yelp. Now if there are multiple reports across different platforms that there is a terrible pest infestation—Avoid that place at all costs! I noticed on a few reviews of our current place that the parking spots are small, and those reviews were 100% accurate!
Find out if there are any leasing specials
I’m not sure if all apartments do this, but I know some places may offer a month or two for free. Most commonly I see administrative, or application fees waived. Sometimes if you don’t call or look these things up online the leasing agent may conveniently forget to tell you. If you do your homework, you will be prepared to get the best deal you can!
Make a list of questions before your apartment search
I am the question queen. I am never ashamed to ask questions I have especially when it involves me spending my money or a contract. Sometimes when you tour in person it can be overwhelming to get all the information and take notes. Always make sure that you get someone’s email address to ask all of your follow-up questions answered. A few good questions to ask are
- On average, what percent does the rent increase for current residents each year?
- Is there guest parking?
- What happens if I need to break my lease? And how much notice do I need to give before moving out?
Research apartments around so you have something to compare it to
If you do the research and have a list of your Top 3 choices then you can better assess if the rates you’re given are reasonable. You can also see where you can get the best bang for your buck.
Understand the development in your area (new apartments or new shops and restaurants)
We were very intentional moving in when we did just because we already know that after a few things around us are done being built, the rates for the apartments in our area will for sure go up. You will want to be aware of this so you can understand what to expect depending on how long you plan to stay in that area. It is also just fun to know what all is going on in the area.