Your apartment checklist includes must-have amenities, a good school district and low crime. But one item you may not think about? Your cellphone reception. There's nothing more frustrating than finding your dream apartment within your budget, only to realize that you can't make or receive calls.
According to the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of people use their smartphones to access the internet in lieu of purchasing broadband internet from a provider. Bad cell reception can prevent you from saving those vital dollars that go toward your budget.
If the apartment has dead zones, you could be unable to receive texts and make or receive calls. While unplugged living has its upsides, you could miss an important phone call or not be able to make an emergency call.
Good news: You don't have to compromise. We compiled more information on what can impact your cellphone reception, how to check for it when touring apartments and if need to, how to boost the signal.
City living gives us access to fast 4G speeds (or even 5G, if we're lucky!) due to the plethora of cellphone towers. But materials like steel beams, concrete, plumbing and other construction materials within the walls can block the waves from the tower.
In large, complex apartment buildings, the thick walls between the units could impact the signal strength. If that's the case, you may have better luck with your phone by the window instead of by the bathroom in the middle of the apartment.
Your carrier could also not have enough cell towers in the area and has a dead zone right above the complex. You can see how many are in your area at CellReception or AntennaSearch. Unfortunately, this can be problematic if the power goes out, shutting down your Wi-Fi so you have no way to call someone.
Similar to checking if you have room for your sectional, checking your cell reception in all rooms of the apartment should also be a priority. Walk around, send a text or two to a friend and try making a phone call to your favorite delivery place.
Are you getting no bars? Check DeadCellZones.com, a crowdsourcing site with user-provided feedback on the cellphone signal in your area. It will also give you insight as to what carrier and phone works best where.
If you're having issues getting a signal, check what kind of internet is available at the apartment complex. When you find the provider, do a Speedtest to make sure you can use it for Wi-Fi calling, MicroCells and other solutions.
Your mediocre cell reception shouldn't stop you from your dream apartment. It's hard to walk away from an affordable space that feels like home.
As you move in your boxes and furniture into your new home, there are a few things you can do to get better cell reception, or at least receive and make calls.
Despite having a bad cellphone signal, you can still make and receive calls over Wi-Fi. Enable Wi-Fi calling under settings if your carrier offers it.
Wi-Fi also lets you use iMessage, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger to text with friends and family. It's all included in your plan, but be careful to not make international calls, as they can get costly.
Obtain a Google number from Google Voice. Google allows you to use the number to call any device over Wi-Fi for free. Once you set it up, you can call, text and get voicemail. It links to any mobile number or landline you'd like — all you need is a Google account.
If your phone dies, you can text from your computer, as well and receive voicemail in your box. It's easy to manage with free calls in the U.S. and Canada and low fees for international. Here's how to set it up.
Call your cellphone carrier — T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint or Verizon — and ask them to provide you with a signal booster. Some carriers may offer the signal booster for free if you let them know in detail about your signal issue. Make sure you check that it's compatible with your network. For example, if you want a boost on 4G you'll need a signal booster compatible with 4G.
If the signal booster is too expensive through your carrier, visit your local electronics store for more options. Check the return policy before purchasing, however, as not every booster will work in your home.
It may seem obvious, but if you have a good signal near a window, place your phone there and enable your Bluetooth headset. Get one with a good range so you don't lose signal through the phone pairing.
The best part? You can walk around the apartment while maintaining your good signal and bonus, you get to be hands-free to cook, clean or fold laundry.
Look into MicroCells — a mini cell tower that transmits over your internet connection. It works as a cell network extender. Most MicroCells are carrier-specific so you'll have to reach out to yours and make sure every person in the house is able to connect to it.
If none of these solutions work for you, consider switching carriers. Certain carriers will let you make a case for leaving your contract penalty-free if you can prove that you don't have any signal in your home.
However, before switching, speak to your neighbors about what works for them and take their feedback into consideration before picking which way to go.