Nobody ever said finding "the one" was easy. It takes some time, a great deal of persistence, and definitely the commitment to make your way through a few bad eggs before finding one with potential.
The same is true for finding your ideal apartment– it really does take the same amount of dedication. However, in the same way that it's hard to know if you've landed a guy or gal you could commit to, it's also tough to know while apartment searching when you've found the place you want to snatch up.
Every place is going to have its advantages and disadvantages. So, to give you a little assistance on your apartment quest, here's how to know you've found the one:
It's important to enter into a lease confident in your landlord's expectations and dependability. You don't want to get stuck with no heat mid-December, only to find out you have a landlord who's no help at all.
When talking (whether in person or over email or phone) to potential landlords or building managers, pay attention to how they answer your questions or concerns and how quickly they respond. Find someone who you like and feel you can trust.
Also, be sure the terms of your lease are OK. If no utilities are included and the rent is already on the high end of your budget or there are strict lease terms you can't really agree to, the situation may not be the right fit for you.
No renter should have to live in a place that's constantly in need of repairs, small or large. During your apartment search, observe the overall condition of the building and the apartment, including its floors and walls.
Then, inspect appliances, heating and cooling systems (if applicable), and faucets and fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom to make sure everything is in good working order. Don't feel bad about taking the time to do this– as they say, it's better to be safe than sorry.
You should have done ample research on the best neighborhoods for you before beginning your apartment search. If not, consider whether the locations of the apartments you're viewing are a good fit for you.
Is the neighborhood safe? Is the commute to school or work reasonable? Is the area easily accessible by public transportation or is there parking nearby? Are all of your everyday necessities in the vicinity (i.e., a grocery store, coffee shop, pet store, etc.)?
It's always best to go into apartment hunting with an ideal budget in mind, but you should nail down a maximum price you're willing to stretch to in case you aren't finding anything within your optimal price range.
Your apartment may be "the one" if it's a little over what you'd like to spend but makes up for that with amenities and location. Perhaps, for example, an apartment with a nice workout facility is more expensive, but then you could also cancel your gym membership to offset that added cost.
However, that doesn't mean you should go over what you can reasonably pay per month.
Personally, I can't live in an apartment without a dishwasher. In my experience, that will result in a sink constantly full of dirty dishes and an overextended food budget. Why? Because I'd rather buy food than clean my dishes and make meals at home.
Decide what your non-negotiable amenities are before apartment searching. Your ideal apartment should have as many of these as possible.
Do you have a pet? Or are you considering getting one in the near future? Then the apartment has to be the right fit for your furry friend too. You wouldn't marry someone your kids (assuming you have them) didn't like, would you?
In any case, look for a place that has the right setup, amenities and location for your pets, and make sure the added deposits, fees and monthly rent will still keep the place within your budget. If you're wondering how to know if a place is good for animals, look for other signs of dogs or cats in the building, like an outdoor doggie play area or a jar of treats at the front desk.
Keep in mind that it's rare to find a "perfect" apartment. Much like finding the man or woman who is "the one" for you (you know, if you believe in that sort of thing), finding the right apartment may mean having to make a few compromises. While you shouldn't settle for something that truly isn't a good fit, give yourself a little wiggle room in all of these categories and look for a place that meets your most important criteria.