Searching for the perfect apartment can be both exciting and overwhelming. Choosing a place to live is an important decision that requires careful consideration, and thorough research. Don’t just grab the first, second or even third place you see. Making intelligent decisions requires researching different apartments, conducting price comparisons and weighing the pros and cons. If you are soon embarking on an apartment hunt, let the following tips be your guide to successfully choosing an apartment you will be happy with.
Scope out the Neighborhood
While you might be set on finding the perfect apartment, you don’t want to overlook the neighborhood. It’s a good idea to check crime rates, or whether any sex offenders live in the area. If you have children, you would obviously want to check out schools and try to get a sense of whether or not the area is family-friendly. On the actual property, you’ll want to check and see whether the grass is well maintained, if the building is in good condition, or if the parking lot has enough spaces. If you can, introduce yourself to passersby in the area to see how they like the neighborhood. If people in the area are unhappy living there, you might not want to sign a contract just yet.
Once you have seen a number of apartments you are interested in, compare the cost of rent. Maybe the apartments that cost more have extra bedrooms or more storage space. If you don’t need extra space or bedrooms, the higher cost may not be worth it. If the rent includes utilities, make sure it’s not more than what you would pay for an apartment with lower rent and separate utilities. Consider any added bonuses, such as a fireplace, that might make the higher priced apartments worth the cost. Many apartment hunters merely compare the cost of rent, however, writing down each individual fee will give you a better idea of the true cost of the place, and whether or not it is worth it.
Consider the Location
After checking out the initial neighborhood surrounding the apartment, it is wise to explore the surrounding area to get a better idea of what your life will be like in this apartment. You want to live in a nice place, but also one that has easy access to major roads, is convenient for your work and for shopping. Living too far away from places you travel to every day can lead to not just personal inconvenience, but higher costs for gas and added wear and tear on your vehicle. It is also wise not to be too far from a hospital or other emergency facilities. If you can’t decide between a few apartments, the surrounding amenities could be a helpful tiebreaker in your decision.
Look into Services
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what services are offered at your apartment complex—you can’t always assume that on-site services are included in your monthly rent fee. Ask about services like parking, laundry, or emergency maintenance service after hours. If there is a pool, clubhouse or fitness center, find out the policy for use of those facilities. It is difficult to do a proper price comparison if there are hidden costs you are unaware of. The last thing you want is to move into an apartment and get hit with unanticipated extra fees just for parking, laundry, or other important services.
Finally, check the ratings for the apartments you are considering. Some problems are not apparent right away, and ratings will give you a better insight into the pros and cons of each apartment you are considering. Luckily, you can easily access ratings online these days—see what people are saying about the complex or the area. While you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, there might be some insights in the ratings that could help you make your decision.
Approach apartment hunting like any other major life decision. Plan carefully, weigh your options and discuss it with family and friends. Do not be too hasty, as this can cause you to overlook problems. This is, after all, going to be your home.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and real estate. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three daughters. Dixie got her advice for this article from the professionals at Streetcar, who develop condos in Toronto.