Searching for a new apartment can be a hassle. It’s usually not something you look forward to, something you plan for, or an activity you particularly enjoy. It’s a time suck, and we get it. That’s why we’ve put together this short list of apartment hunting advice filled with deal breakers, tips, and tricks to help you out. It’s easy to jump right into your apartment search with no direction, but if you’re really serious about signing the lease on the perfect place, you’ll want to establish a few things beforehand. Keep these things in mind to make your apartment hunt a smooth one.
Know Your Budget
Think about your monthly budget: how much can you afford to spend on rent? There are probably going to be plenty of apartments out of your price range, especially if you live in one of the priciest rental markets in the country, and you don’t want to waste your time sorting through ones that are outside of your budget. Set your price limit (and maybe add $50 as a buffer) and only look at those apartments you know you can afford. Check out the latest rental prices in Canada and in the US according to our rent reports.
Choose Your Neighborhoods
If you’re new to a city, you’ll want to do a little research to find out which areas are a good fit for you. Head to the city’s website or visitor’s page to get a feel for the vibe in each neighborhood. Maybe there are a few that are great for musicians and artists, a few perfect for commuters, and a handful of hoods ideal for young professionals. Your research will help guide your apartment hunt, and will save you time when deciding whether or not to see an apartment that’s not in one of your preferred neighborhoods.
Decide Your Priorities Beforehand
Do you need your own apartment or can you live with roommates? Are a washer and dryer important to have in-unit? Do you want a fitness center or pool on-site? Can’t live without a backyard? Do you need a parking spot? These are all things to consider before beginning your apartment search. Make a list of your priorities and include the things on which you aren’t willing to compromise. When you use rental sites like Padmapper or Zumper, you can filter your search based on your preferences so you’ll only get results that match your needs.
Prepare Your Documents
Setting yourself apart in the rental application process can be challenging. Landlords are looking for someone who makes enough money to afford rent, can pay on time, and has a good rental history. In most cities, a lot of people meet these basic requirements. So how do you stand out?
One way to get your future landlord’s attention is to come prepared to the apartment showing with your documents prepared. Bring a printout of your credit history, pay stubs, contact information for your previous landlord, and a personal profile so they can get to know a little about you. At the end of the day, landlords simply want a quality tenant who can pay rent, and showing them you’re serious about the apartment will go a long way.
No Heater or Air Conditioner
If you live in most cities in the U.S., you’ll need one or the other, and maybe both. Renting an apartment without a working heater will be miserable, if not dangerous, and the same goes for an air conditioner. Can you imagine living in the Arizona heat without an air conditioner, or getting a place in New York that has a broken heater? Make sure to find out if your potential apartment has the heating or air system you need before making any decisions.
Beware of Health Hazards
You’ve found a great apartment and it meets all of your priorities, so you’re heading over to check it out. When you arrive, though, you notice that there’s mold on the bathroom ceiling or a bedroom wall. Or maybe you see a mouse scurrying around during your apartment tour. Your landlord is legally responsible for removing any mold that has grown or rodents that have made an appearance in the unit. If they haven’t yet, it may be a sign that they don’t take your well being seriously.
Sure, it won’t be an exceptionally exciting process, but apartment hunting doesn’t have to be painful. If you prepare for your apartment search, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re looking for and how you’re going to find it.