Apartment hunting can be stressful! But, now way to make it a little easier to nail down the specifics of what you are looking for long before you ever make an appointment to see one. Many things can be handled and determined before you move-in to make that day all the less stressful. Here are some simple tips to help you find an apartment you love and make it easy.
The biggest mistake you can make when moving into an apartment is choosing one that is WAY outside of your budget. If you can’t afford your apartment, you risk not being able to make payments, but you also won’t have anything left to pay for essentials or entertainment. When budgeting for rent, a good rule of thumb is to ensure it’s no more than 30% of your net income. For example, if your net income (not gross income) is 45,000, your rent should be around $1,125.
You can find a little wiggle room with your budget if you don’t have many other debts or expenses like a car payment, child support, etc. But overspending too much on that amount can lead to issues. So now that you have our suggested budget of $1,125, you have a nice jumping-off point. Maybe you find an apartment that is $1,250, which is a little over your budget, but they include all utilities in the price—you could probably settle for that price increase! In fact, if you can, start looking for apartments that are less than your allotted budget, so you have room for any utilities or extra furnishings you desire for your new place.
When you rent an apartment, you can expect to have a few up-front costs. One being your application fee, which is usually around $30 or $40. This pays for their background and credit check on you. You can also expect to pay a security deposit, which is often “last month’s rent,” aka double rent.
Sometimes you can find a place offering $500 security deposits or something in that range, but either way, you should plan for that. If you save up your security deposit long before you hunt for apartments, you may even be able to bring a check or cash with you and pay that deposit right upfront to solidify the apartment and take it off the market.
We all have the perfect apartment in mind that has every awesome amenity and feature we’ve ever wanted. But, the chances of finding that in your budget may not be so high. What you can do, is list out all of the amenities you want in your new apartment home and star or circle the ones that are absolutely must-haves. These may be the location, underground parking, pet-friendly, a pool, or other additions. These can be your ground rules for apartment hunting and help eliminate the majority of apartments you won’t be happy with.
As important as the must-haves, you also must lay out your deal-breakers. If you fail to determine what your deal breakers are, you may also fail to recognize them during a showing and end up moving into an apartment that does not suit your needs. Your deal breakers might be the exact opposite of your must-haves or just something that’s a major inconvenience. Is the place easy to get to from the main road? Is there guest parking for family and friends? Is the parking lot far from the door (this can really suck in the winter)?
Large websites like Apartments.com can be a great starting point if you really don’t know where you begin, and you want to filter by location, bedrooms, etc. If you are looking for local duplexes or smaller apartment units, Craigslist can be a great place. It’s where lots of small-time property managers might put their brownstones and duplexes up for rent (be certain to filter any sketchy situations).
Or, your best bet might be to look up some of the best apartment complexes in the area you desire and visit their website. Or even go for a drive in desired locations and note any buildings with “Available Apartments” signs around. Jot down their name and visit the website to look at pictures, floorplans, and amenities to filter any that don’t meet your must-haves.
And of course, see some in person! Right now, due to COVID, many apartments are offering virtual appointments, which still allows you to see the place and ask critical questions, plus go through your apartment checklist (link to upcoming post here). If you start early enough, you can see plenty of available apartments before you need to move out of your existing one or plan to move into a new one.
But remember, you might have to act fast on some that are hot commodities and put down your deposit at the viewing. If you follow these tips, you should have a seamless apartment hunting experience and find the one you deserve! Good luck, and as always, visit our website to view our available apartments all across the Metro.