Finding your first apartment is an exciting milestone. But as with many firsts, your first apartment hunt can be overwhelming and stressful. This guide can help you navigate the search and find the perfect first place.
1. Make sure you can afford it.
Yes, the crown molding and new shower seem amazing now, but in three months when you’re pinching pennies to pay rent those amenities might not look so hot. Make a budget and stick to it. You might not get the perfect place, but you won’t get the one that will send you to the poor house, either.
2. Don’t pay for anything until you’ve seen the apartment.
There are many ways to be scammed, and apartment hunting is one of them. If someone wants to charge you to see an apartment then that is a red flag. If they want to rent you the apartment sight unseen that is a double red flag. Basically, do not exchange any money until you are sure this is a legit transaction on a place you want to live in.
3. If the landlord seems too eager to rent you the place, be careful.
Sometimes the landlord just might actually be eager, but if they want to bypass credit checks and such then chances are this might not end well. Without credit checks and paper trails it will be tougher to rectify things down the line, if need be. It also means there may be something seriously wrong with the building or apartment itself. However, if you are willing to roll the dice just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
4. Gauge your landlord.
This is something you should really think about even though it seems sort of weird. Things to consider: Do they live on-site? How close is their apartment to yours? Do they seem like they’ll be all up in your business? Many a great apartment has been ruined by an awful landlord, so try and get a good feeling for yours before it’s too late.
5. Try to meet your potential neighbors.
Like your landlord, your neighbors can make or break an apartment, so try your best to see what you are getting yourself into. You don’t want to be surprised your first night there that your new neighbor watches Murder She Wrote at an ungodly volume, or that they’re night vacuumers.
6. Figure out where the common walls are.
Speaking of neighbors, you should also factor in how many shared walls you will have and which ones those are. Is your bedroom wall the other side of your neighbor’s living room? Or vice versa? Either way somebody will have some complaining in their future if you don’t notice these things now.
7. Visit the neighborhood on nights and weekends before signing anything.
What is quiet with ample parking during the day may be loud and crowded at night. Do yourself a favor and scope out your potential hood before you find out that there’s a club next door that hosts all-ages noise core shows, unless, of course, you’re really into noise core.
8. Consider their pet policy.
Even if you don’t plan on having pets it’s nice to know what the policy is exactly. You know, just in case your neighbor across the way leaves his door open and his pet tiger escapes.
9. Consider the commute.
Is cheaper and farther more appealing than expensive and close? You be the judge.
10. Go over exactly what utilities are covered.
Having utilities included is awesome and another headache you don’t have to deal with, but be crystal clear on what you are getting and what you aren’t. Water, gas, and power? Internet? These can be defining factors when choosing an apartment, so do your due diligence. Also, just because it says, “AC included” it does not mean the power is paid for. It just means you don’t have to provide your own.
11. Check all the faucets and flush all the toilets.
This is something a lot of people never think to do, but trust me and do it. If there is any issue you can bring it up now and hopefully it can be addressed by the landlord. I mean, there is nothing worse than turning on the tap for the first time and being surprised by barely-dripping brown water while the toilet floods.
12. Make sure the air conditioning and heater work.
Again, do this on your first visit so that if anything isn’t working it can be fixed beforehand. And if your place has neither of these things then, well, keep looking?
13. Open all of the drawers, cabinets, and doors.
This is a great way to tell how many times things have been painted over, since the more paint means the more things will be tough to get open. It’s better to find out which is the sticky cabinet now than later.
14. Make a checklist and take photos.
Walk around with the landlord and note any preexisting issues the apartment might have, i.e. chipped paint, a broken handle, etc., taking pictures of each thing. After you are done having the landlord sign the checklist, insure you that when you move out these issues will not be taken out of your security deposit since they were there to begin with.
15. And most importantly: Scope out your power outlets.
There is nothing more infuriating than getting the keys to a new place only to find out that where you thought the TV was going to go can’t because – surprise, surprise – there isn’t an outlet on that wall. Not only that, but there’s only two outlets in the whole room, and only one of them works. Why didn’t you look for this before you signed the lease? Well, at least your AC is working, hopefully.