Finding the best apartment is based entirely on your own personal feelings, opinions, and tastes. What you are looking for in an apartment in terms of location, size, and amenities may not be exactly what someone else is looking for. Thus, finding the best apartment is a completely subjective process. However, to find the best apartment for you, it is crucial to know what you are looking for and how to find it.
To find the best apartment for you, think about everything you want or need before you begin searching, stay organized, and prepare all the material you will need to complete the rental application and be preapproved for rent. Below are a few more tips to help you decide what you are looking for in an apartment and how to narrow your search.
Deciding What You Are Looking For
Before beginning your search for the best apartment, you have to decide what you are really looking for. There are many aspects you will have to consider, such as what you want versus what you will need in an apartment. Depending on your area, there will be a plethora of listings to search through, so it is important to try to narrow your search. Think about factors such as location, price, size and layout, amenities like janitorial services, the number of occupants, parking, transportation, and pets. The ultimate goal is to find the best apartment for your lifestyle.
Since location is often considered the most important factor in terms of real estate and finding the best apartment, you should consider it first. You will want to look for apartments close to your work or school, which will shorten your commute and make your life much easier. Think about what areas have the shortest commute with the least amount of traffic. Carefully map out the route and find out if there are any alternate routes. Do not forget to consider the distance to other locations you will frequent, such as a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant, or a dentist near me.
The price of the apartment is another one of the most important factors to consider. Before you begin your search for the perfect apartment, you should carefully examine your finances. Consider all costs of living, including the price of rent, and determine what you can and cannot afford. According to the United States Census Bureau, the price of your monthly rent should not be greater than 20% of your income for the month, or 30% at the absolute most. For example, if your monthly income is $4,000, you should not exceed $1,2000 a month for rent. If you need help with rent, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development offers subsidies to those with low income jobs to help them afford rent. You can check on their website to see if you qualify to receive rent assistance.
Come up with a budgeting plan for the first month in your new apartment, as well as the security deposit you will probably be asked to pay upfront. Examining your finances and setting a realistic budget before you begin apartment hunting will prevent you from considering an expensive apartment that you cannot actually afford.
Many landlords require tenants to pay a down payment, which generally includes rent for the first and last month as well as a security deposit which is usually equal to a month’s rent. For instance, if an apartment’s monthly rent is $800, you will likely have to put down three times that before you can even sign the lease. You should try to have this money saved up before so you do not risk losing out on your ideal apartment because you could not afford it at the time.
Size and Layout
Before you begin your search for an apartment, consider what you really want from your space. Consider how many bedrooms, how much square footage, and what types of heating and cooling you need or want. It is also important to think about any special considerations in terms of size and layout that your apartment will have to meet. This includes an apartment with an office or a room you can convert into an office if you work from home, or an apartment with a large living room if you enjoy entertaining guests.
Have a list of all the extra amenities you want before you begin your search. This could include a washer and dryer in the apartment, a gym, pool, hydraulic elevators, or a common area in the building. It is important to order your list in terms of priority since it is likely you will not be able to find an apartment with everything you want.
Number of Occupants
When considering how many occupants your apartment will need to accommodate, do not just think about who you will be moving in with at the current time, but who may possibly move in later on down the road. If you are in a serious relationship, consider whether or not they might move in soon. If you anticipate needing a roommate in the future, look for apartments with two bedrooms. You can cut the monthly rent for any apartment in half by simply sharing it with a roommate. If you think about how many people might be living in your apartment, you will know what size and layout will be best for you.
Parking and Transportation
Parking is an often overlooked aspect of an apartment building, but most people’s idea of the perfect apartment does not include a cumbersome walk to and from their car every day. Therefore, it is important to take note of whether or not parking is offered on site. If it is not, find out how accessible or close street parking is close to the apartment building. If indoor parking is not provided, you can ask the landlord about contacting an overhead door company. If you do not have a car and instead rely on public transport, found out how close it is to the apartment building.
Finally, if you have a pet and are planning on moving in with it, you will need to narrow your search to apartments that are friendly to pets. Do not forget to check if the apartment building has a pet deposit or fee which could have an impact on your budget plans. These fees can vary heavily from building to building. Explore the area nearby to find out if veterinary services or pet attractions such as dog parks are close by.
After you have an idea of what you want and what you need in an apartment, you must decide what is a priority and what is not, since it is unlikely that you will be able to find an apartment with everything you want. If you have to live in a building that allows pets, begin by narrowing your search and checking that box first on listings. If safety is a priority for you, look for apartment buildings that prioritize security solutions. If there is only one part of town that you wish to live in, start by narrowing your search to there.
A general search strategy to follow is to search online and find potential apartments that meet all your requirements and potentially some of your supplemental wants as well. This will drastically cut down on your search time and prevent you from touring various apartments that will not work for you. When you begin your search for an apartment is another priority you need to set. Even if you know what you are looking for, but you start your search too late, a variety of problems can arise. The best time to begin the hunt for a new apartment is sixty days before your current lease expires, while others believe you should begin around three months before. This will allow you a total of thirty days to search for the actual apartment and ample time to sign the lease before finally packing and moving.
Other than setting priorities, staying organized is a fundamental part of finding the best apartment for you. If you remain organized throughout your search, you will know exactly when you have found the right apartment. As you tour each unit, take notes and check off which priorities it meets and take note of the ones it does not. Then when it comes time to make a decision, you will have a detailed reference sheet. You will find this incredibly helpful especially if you are searching for an apartment in a highly competitive market.
Out of all Americans who rent, 37% of them live in apartments, so the more competitive the market you are searching in is, the faster you will have to secure listings, even if it is just for a tour. In a competitive market, the best apartments will be taken off the market very quickly, so do not hesitate when you have found the one.
Preparing in Advance
If you are in a highly competitive market and you need to seal the deal fast, it helps to prepare in advance. This includes a lease or rental application along with any other documents needed to secure your ideal apartment. If you do not prepare your paperwork in advance, you could very well lose the apartment you have decided on to someone who is more prepared than you.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to have any and all necessary documents ready, such as a copy of your identification and credit report, a renter’s resume, proof of income and recent pay stub, a recent bank statement, and any pet information such as medical records, vaccinations, and training certificates. You could also include a letter of recommendation from a past landlord to increase your chances of securing your new apartment. You may also want to bring your checkbook along with you during your apartment search just in case you want to fill out a rental application, you will likely have to pay a small fee.
Doing a Walk Through
Even if you think you have found the perfect apartment and are completely happy with the landlord and location, you should do a final walk through before signing the lease. The previous tenant may have caused some otherwise unforeseen issues and you will want to catch them before you make any commitments. While conducting a walk through, turn on all lights and faucets to make sure they are working correctly. Turning on the faucet will give you an idea of the condition of the local water treatment system.
Inspect any nooks and crannies, such as storage spaces and cabinets, for signs of an insect or rodent infestations. If you find any evidence such as dropping or chew marks, ask the landlord to bring in commercial pest control services before you move in. Turn on any appliances, such as a dishwasher, oven, or refrigerator, to make sure they are functioning properly and check safety equipment like smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Carefully inspects the walls, ceiling, and floors for damage, whether it is hardwood, carpet, linoleum, drywall, or tile.
Once you have signed a lease, you should seriously consider getting renters insurance, which many landlords actually require you to do. Renters insurance is a smart and cheap way to protect all your belongings since the national average is about $15 to $30 a month. This will cover your belongings if they are stolen or destroyed in an event such as fire and also usually includes liability protection in case someone is injured in your apartment.
If you have the foresight to prepare all the necessary documents, stay organized, set priorities, and know what you want in an apartment, you will likely have no problem finding the best apartment for you, whether you are a student looking for housing or are older and searching for senior living apartments. Do not forget to carefully examine your finances before you begin your search and collect everything you will need to fill out a rental application.