Muriel Vega
apartment in winter

Most rentals happen between May and September making the winter season the best time to catch deals and look for the perfect apartment with less competition. Another upside of checking out available units during the coldest months? You get to see specific amenities and details that you wouldn't notice if the weather was pleasant outside.

Things like insulation inside the apartment, drafty windows and maintenance during icy periods are important for your safety and comfort. Bundle up and keep these six things in mind when apartment hunting in cold weather.

1. Parking access

apartment parking

Upon arrival at your prospective apartment, ask where your parking spot will be. While some complexes have designated spots right outside the unit, that's not always the case.

Sometimes, it's first-come, first-serve and if you live in a particularly cold part of the country, you may want a reserved spot close to your unit. Want to skip morning ice scraping and snow shoveling? Pay special attention to those units with covered garages.

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2. Well-lit common areas

parking lot lights

As we approach winter, the days get short fairly quickly. You wake up in the darkness and return home most likely after the sun has gone down.

Keep an eye out for lighting offerings around the parking lot, stairs and other common areas for safety – you wouldn't want to slip on an unseen patch of black ice while carrying groceries. Ouch!

3. Window quality

old window

Old complexes may offer charm and lower prices, but they often come with old drafty windows. Check the quality of the windows – if they open and close correctly, if some of them are painted shut and if there's any air coming in once you close them. A drafty window in your apartment may mean higher energy bills and colder nights that not even a good blanket can fix.

4. Road and walkway maintenance

shoveled sidewalk

Let it snow! Check with maintenance as you're apartment hunting in cold weather about their procedures when it snows. Do they shovel the sidewalks and roads within the complex immediately? Do they only cover some areas? Do they have an emergency number just in case you get trapped somewhere? Having some assistance when salting any ice or shoveling multiple feet of snow can be vital for you making it to work on time or avoiding an injury.

5. Access to heat

thermostat

Often, apartments in the Northeast and elsewhere have heat that's controlled by the landlord or property management company. Ask about temperature minimums for when they turn on the heat and plan accordingly – you may be a little more sensitive to cold than you think.

If you're not used to cold temperatures, keep an eye out for an apartment that has its own central heat so you can get cozy whenever you want.

6. Utilities cost

person in winter gear

While moving during the winter can be inconvenient – carrying boxes can only warm you up so much – one big benefit is finding out what your energy and gas bills will be at their highest right after move in.

When planning your budget, you'll be able to leave a little wiggle room now that you have specific numbers to work with and know that it will only go down from here. No more surprises!

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About The Author

Muriel Vega

Muriel Vega is an Atlanta-based journalist and editor who writes mostly about technology and its intersection with food and culture. She’s the managing editor of tech news publication Hypepotamus, and has contributed to The Guardian, Atlanta magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE and more. She spends her time eating her way through Buford Highway and exploring Atlanta's arts scene.

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