Looking for a new apartment can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. By following a few tips, you can make the apartment hunting process stress-free and enjoyable.
Know Your Budget
Before you begin searching for an apartment, it is important to know your budget and stick to it. The typical rule of thumb for rent is spending 30% of pre-tax income, with a total of 50% of your income dedicated to fixed needs that include rent, utilities, and transportation. You may want to consider getting a roommate to help with living expenses.
Also consider your budget for moving expenses and initial costs associated with moving. As you begin to narrow down your choice of apartments, call ahead to check on the average cost of utilities, additional parking fees or the cost and availability of public transportation from each prospective apartment.
Do Your Research
The location and surrounding neighborhood of your apartment is an important factor to consider. Research prospective apartments and be sure to ask questions about the lease obligation, property management, apartment policies, other tenants, and the community as a whole. Some questions to consider:
- Is it pet-friendly?
- Are there laundry facilities? Storage areas?
- Are there guest visitation policies?
- What types of amenities are offered?
- Is there a workout facility?
Determine Your Wants vs. Needs
Before you begin your apartment search, determine your priorities by deciding what is a “want” and what is an absolute “need” when it comes to your living space. Among the needs that you may not be willing to compromise on are location, access to parking or public transportation, and overall space requirements. Amenities like a pool, fitness facility, and stainless steel appliances may be a want, but your final decision should be guided by those items on your need list.
Visit Your Prospective Home
While there are a number of online tools to help you find the perfect apartment, nothing beats a walk around the apartment and its complex, or surrounding neighborhood. Be sure to tour the apartment, meet with management to get your questions answered, and talk with other tenants to learn about living in the area, and the pros and cons associated with the apartment.
Get your paperwork in order prior to your apartment search so that you are prepared when you find the perfect place. Gather pay stubs, your most recent W2, and dated bank statements; your government issued ID, like a drivers license or passport; your rental history, as well as letters of reference from previous landlords; your Social Security number; and your checkbook or cash to pay the application fee.
Read the Fine Print
Once you found the perfect apartment, you may be excited to sign on the dotted line, but be sure to read the details first. Understand the lease terms that you are agreeing to, as well as any other monthly fees, down payments, or moving expenses; and be sure to know in advance if renters insurance is required.