Finding a good apartment is a completely subjective process. What's ideal for you in terms of size, location and amenities might not work for someone else.
Because the search for a new apartment is so subjective, it's important to know how to find your best fit. These tips will help focus your search and determine what you're really looking for in a perfect apartment.
There are a lot of points to consider before starting an apartment search. You have to take into consideration what you want in an apartment, but also what you'll need to live comfortably.
“Choosing a new place to live is no small task, but taking the extra time to consider all of the must-have and nice-to-have features may help ensure that you find a place you'll love calling home," says Madeline Coite on the Allstate Blog.
The end goal is to find a place that suits your lifestyle, but there are often a lot of listings to go through. To narrow things down, take some time to think about your needs and preferences and make a list of where you fit within a few key categories.
Sitting down to review your finances before apartment hunting is imperative. Calculate what you can afford in rent after taking into consideration your other costs of living.
Make sure to budget for the first month, last month and security deposit you'll most likely get asked to pay upfront. Setting a realistic budget for rent now will prevent you from falling in love with an apartment you can't actually afford.
Narrowing your apartment search to an area that's going to make your life easier is often an essential component to finding the best apartment. Look at your commute to school or work from various points around town to figure out what areas will give you the shortest drive with the least amount of traffic.
Map your route to work from these areas during the times you'd actually do the drive, and see if alternate routes exist. Also, check on distances to the other places you frequent like a favorite restaurant or best friend's house.
It's a good idea to really think about space before your search begins. Think about how many bedrooms you want and how much square footage you need to hold all your stuff. You also want to take into consideration any special requirements your apartment should meet.
If you work from home, make sure you look at apartments where you can convert a space to your office. If you enjoy entertaining, you may want to limit your search to places with big living rooms.
Don't just think about who, if anyone, is moving with you, but who may join you down the road. If you're in a long-term relationship, think about how long it's really going to be before your partner moves in with you.
If you think you'll need a roommate down the road, make sure you're searching for two-bedroom apartments, just in case. Thinking through this element will then impact the size and layout of your best apartment.
Always an important part of a good apartment, you should note when looking at listings whether parking is available on-site. If not, you may want to call and ask how close and accessible street parking is near the building.
A perfect apartment doesn't include a long walk from your parking spot. If you don't have a car, it's good to note how close to public transportation a potential apartment is. The listing may include this information or you can do a quick check on a map.
If you plan on moving with a pet, you'll need to limit your apartment search to pet-friendly options. You should also check whether an apartment has a pet fee or deposit since that cost could max out your budget.
This expense will differ from place to place and can impact whether an apartment is your ideal. You should also explore the area near a potential apartment to see if things like dog parks are nearby.
Make a list of all the extras you want in an apartment. These can include a washer and dryer in the unit, a building laundry room, a pool, a gym and a common room you can rent out.
List them by priority since there's a good chance you won't find a place that has them all. Knowing what you want most can help you assess whether an apartment is the right fit even if it comes up a little short with amenities.
Now that you know what you need and what you want in your apartment, it's time to pinpoint which of these elements are deal breakers and which aren't. If there's only a certain part of town that will work for you, only search there. If you have to have a place that allows pets, check that detail on listings first to cut down on your search time.
Looking online and finding potential apartments that meet all your must-haves first, and then hopefully, give you some of your additional wants second, will keep you from wasting time visiting places that aren't right for you.
Another priority to set is the timing of your apartment search. Knowing what you want, but starting too late to find it can be a problem. “The ideal time to start hunting for your new place is 60 days before your lease ends," says Kasia Manolas from avail. This gives you 30 days to apartment search, plenty of time to sign your lease before you have to move and time to pack and confirm movers.
The biggest benefit of keeping your search organized is the ability to know when you've found that perfect apartment. Taking notes on units you see and checking off which of your priorities they meet gives you a quick reference sheet when it comes time to decide on your best option. This is especially important if your apartment hunting in a competitive market.
“The more competitive your rental market is, the faster you need to jump on listings you're interested in, even if it's just to take a tour," says Heather Yamada-Hosley from lifehacker. Competition means the all-around best apartments go fast, so don't dawdle when you find the right one.
To seal the deal even faster once you find your ideal apartment, prepare in advance all the documentation you'll need alongside a rental application or lease. This saves you time and lets you jump on the best apartment the moment you're ready.
Delays can lead to you losing an apartment to someone who's more prepared. Your paperwork packet should include:
Don't forget your checkbook either when you're out looking at apartments. If you decide to fill out a rental application on the spot, you'll need to pay a fee.
Finding the best apartment is possible as long as you have the foresight to prepare. Take stock of your wants and needs, evaluating what you can afford and collect all the materials necessary to get your rental application approved.
Getting organized and taking the time to research available apartments that align with your lifestyle can make it so much easier to find that ideal apartment to call home.