Apartment Checklist for Finding Your New Place
When searching for a home there are several items on your new apartment checklist. You need a certain number of bedrooms. It can't be too far from work. You may need a dishwasher and washer dryer hookups. The necessities you need can easily be researched, and a property manager can help you find a unit you like.
But what about less obvious factors? Questions like how well behaved are your new neighbors? Is it safe to go out at night? Is it too noisy or too bright for sleeping? There are many items that don't pertain to the unit itself that need to go on your apartment checklist. ApartmentGuide walks you through them here.
What to look for in a neighborhood
There are a few things you need see for yourself in a neighborhood.
What are the kids doing? Are they playing outside or hidden away during the summer? If you’re a social butterfly, you may prefer neighbors who share your social traits.
Is there visible police activity? If you see the police patrolling your complex day and night, they are needed there. This should be a red flag.
Road maintenance – Are the roads filled with potholes, or are they maintained? Is there trash on the street? Does the city take good care of this neighborhood, and do the residents have pride in where they live? If you’re looking to live in an urban setting, you’re not as likely to see tree-lined streets, but you might think twice about an area that is visibly neglected.
Get to know the neighbors
Your property manager or landlord has a financial incentive to get you into the home. However, the neighbors are an impartial party. Talk with people in the apartment community before you take a tour. Ask the cashier at a nearby grocery or convenience store about the complex. This will provide you with outside opinions of the neighborhood (and the management). If you hear something negative, be sure to ask when it happened. It may be old information.
This is a huge priority when it comes to places to live. It’s up to you to determine if you’re looking in safe neighborhood. There are a few things to check that will help you gauge if a neighborhood is safe.
Street lights – are there plenty of working lights? Do they cover your mailbox, parking lot and the walk to your door or fitness center? You want your walk outside to be completely lit by streetlights at night.
Crime statistics – Be sure to check out the crime rates in a neighborhood. Look into the registered sex offender list too, which shows where they live, and their previous crimes (especially important if you have children). If rent price seems too good to be true, this may be why.
A map may tell you work is only 5 minutes from the apartment you have your eye on. However, traffic can add more time to that number. Try taking your work commute from your prospective apartment during rush hour. How much time does it really take to get to and from work? Do a bit of research: are there back roads you can easily take to avoid traffic, and commute quickly?
Related: What to Consider regarding your Commute
Next, determine the nearest grocery, and don’t just drive by. Go inside and see if you like it. Ditto for the pharmacy, the dry cleaners, restaurants, the library . . . any type of business or service that you use regularly. These will be your neighborhood places, so you better like them!
Your personal preferences for what you want in a neighborhood should make the apartment checklist. Take a walk around at night. It's important to ask yourself a few questions to know what neighborhood is right for you.
- Are there wild parties in your neighborhood? If so, is this a problem for you?
- Are there lots of loud barking dogs? What about fences for those dogs? And are there leash laws for the county? If you like to take a nightly walk, these are things to consider.
- Do you want to be walking distance to grocery stores and restaurants? Or, do you prefer a neighborhood which is more secluded?
- Can you sleep in a room that’s not completely dark? Will you have to spend extra to block out light sited right outside your bedroom window?
Apartment hunting can be a gamble if you don't have a well thought-out check list. Do your research, and know what things you value in a neighborhood, and you can find a home you will be happy in for years to come.