Hunting for an apartment and signing the lease after you’ve found the right one can certainly be exciting. However, it is also a very daunting process for many renters. There are hundreds of questions on your mind, and you may not even know where to start. The truth is, this is something many renters deal with, especially if they are becoming a tenant for the first time.
However, by planning ahead of time and keeping in mind all the major factors, you can make the process a bit smoother and make a well-informed decision. Here are five useful and practical apartment hunting tips you should know before viewing properties.
Plan your expenses and figure out your budget
First things first, you want to start things off by figuring out what you can afford. While the first month’s rent, utility costs, and groceries are what typically comes to mind, you’ll also need to factor in some other costs as well. These include credit check, application fee, and a security deposit. Renter’s insurance, heating, parking, trash, sewer, electricity and gas are some additional monthly expenses you’ll also need to plan for.
Generally speaking, you want to come up with a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay every month. This will help you figure out whether these expenses fit your income or not. Keep in mind that you can always go for a cheaper apartment and transform it on a budget or find a roommate to split bills if the monthly costs are too high.
Consider the season when deciding on the move-out date
Other than your budget, you’ll also need to consider the time of the year when you’re planning on moving out. Of course, this is something that renters cannot always control. For instance, a college student whose semester ends in May may not be able to continue paying rent until the start of the next semester. Furthermore, rent tends to go up during certain seasons. Depending on where you’re planning to relocate, you can see an increase in rent (e.g. rentals in beach towns during the beach season).
This is why it’s important that you consider the season when deciding when to move. If you have to move out on a certain date, don’t wait until the last minute to start your search. Instead, start researching several months in advance, and see if you can sign a lease ahead of time. That way, you won’t have to pay the increased rate, which will help ensure a stress-free moving day when the time comes to relocate.
Decide on the location that works best for you
While your budget and move-in date do play important roles in your apartment hunt, you also want to choose a location that fits your lifestyle and preferences. If you prefer working late or sleeping in, look for apartments close to work. If you’re looking for lower monthly rates and reasonable commute time, look for apartments in the suburban areas.
Make sure you do an in-depth research of the local market as well. Consider looking into markets such as Texas, whose industries are showing rapid growth and offering more jobs than ever, and definitely take a look at Lubbock apartments for rent since they often come with top amenities and modern floor plans. Many of them are also pet-friendly, which is great news for renters with pets. Still, you should ask about pet policies which can vary greatly depending on the apartment complex.
Decide on the amenities you want in your apartment
No renter is the same, just like no apartment offers the same amenities. For instance, renters looking to relocate to Dallas may expect a multitude of amenities since there is a lot of new construction. However, those in San Francisco may enjoy certain perks of this older city but can’t always expect their apartment to come with a dishwasher.
Some landlords may also expect renters to pay a premium for certain add-ons. Where you decide to relocate will play an important role here. While there are certain features that are generally super-attractive to tenants, you should look for ones that fit your lifestyle best.
Perform self-inspection when viewing different properties
Last but not least, you should always make sure to check the apartment’s condition yourself instead of taking the landlord’s word for it. They may not be trying to hide anything, but it’s best to not leave anything to chance. As soon as you walk in and take a look around the apartment, remember to perform self-inspection.
Generally speaking, the outlets should be in working condition, and the same goes for sinks and showers. Pay attention to the common areas and how well-kept they are, checking everything from walls and doors to floors and ceiling. Finally, be sure to look for any signs of infestation. Making compromises and sacrifices is okay sometimes, but having to deal with creepy crawlies certainly isn’t worth it.
Finding and renting the ideal apartment for yourself is a big decision, and quite a challenge at times. While it’s definitely important to have a vision of your ideal space, make sure that you’re being realistic about your apartment hunt. Do your research, check out the area, and give yourself enough time, too. Relocating is a big deal, and you want to make sure you’re feeling confident about your decision.
About the author: Mike Johnston is an experienced blogger and editor with a background in creative writing and digital media. He’s a regular contributor to the “Smooth Decorator” blog and numerous other online publications, where he writes primarily about real estate, construction, home improvement, and interior design.