Apartment Hunting Tips: Your Guide to Residential Bliss
A Complete Guide to Finding Your Dream Apartment
Below, you’ll find an embarrassing apartment story about one of our teammates here at Bellhops. For the sake of avoiding any public humiliation, we are just going to call our pal “Dennis” and say that he works in accounting.
Full disclosure: This story may be over-dramatized for entertainment purposes (like we said, Dennis works in accounting).
When Dennis made his first real move, he assumed it was going to be a breeze, as long as he stayed true to the numbers. And so he approached apartment finding the same way he approached every decision in his life — he made a spreadsheet.
After some number crunching, Dennis decided a $550/month apartment would fall well below his budget, allowing plenty of money to save for retirement. He eventually found an apartment right in his price range and moved into his new place (we use the term “new” loosely here).
Unfortunately, the extremely low apartment fee meant there were no restrictions on the number of furry friends a tenant could have.
And, Dennis happened to be right next door to Cathy, who took full advantage of the liberal pet policy. Cathy didn’t just have one cat. No, Cathy had 30 cats — all of which worked as an evil kitty unit to make Dennis’s life a living nightmare.
They meowed incessantly at night while Dennis was trying to sleep, they deposited hairballs by the foot of his door and a few of them weren’t neutered… which meant Dennis walked in on a few scenes no one should have to see.
Finally, after coming home late one night and walking into his apartment to find 15 cats waiting to ambush him, Dennis said enough was enough.
The attack was brutal, and to this day Dennis doesn’t have full use of the pinky and ring finger on his left hand.
How NOT to End Up Like Dennis
Dennis’ horrible feline experience has allowed the Bellhops team to see first hand what poor apartment hunting practices can do to a person. That’s why we have put together this article, Apartment Hunting Tips: A Complete Guide to Finding Your Dream Apartment.
Below, we will provide you with some helpful apartment hunting tips you can harness to help yourself find your dream apartment!
What Are The Best Apartment Rental Sites?
First things first, you need to know where to look. The web is littered with all kinds of apartment sites, many of which are subpar at best. Considering you are probably going to be living in your new place for at least a year, you need to make sure you are looking on the right sites. Here are all of the best apartment rental sites that we recommend to our friends and customers:
- Rent.com — this is an easy-to-use site that compiles strictly verified listing and provides HD photos and 3D floor plans. This is a great site to visit if you are simply wanting to peruse and get a better idea of what you are looking for.
- ApartmentGuide — if you are looking to dive into the nitty-gritty details, this is where you need to go. ApartmentGuide is an apartment finder with a vast amount of information on just about every apartment out there.
- Rentals.com — this site helps connect tenants with rental homes and vice-versa. It’s a little bit different from the other sites because it connects you with rental homes rather than apartments. It can be a refreshing change of pace for someone who has grown tired of living the apartment life.
- LiveLovely — out of all four of these options, you might say that LiveLovely is the coolest kid in school, both stylish and laid-back. This site succeeds at taking the hassle out of apartment finding, connecting you with cool places that you will have no trouble calling home.
What to look for when renting an apartment?
We have shown you WHERE to look by providing you with the best apartment rental sites, but now it’s time to discuss the HOW. Below you can read more about how to find an apartment.
Knowing what to look for when renting an apartment really comes down to personal preference. Take a moment and pull out a sheet of paper, write down the ten features you would like to have in your next apartment. For example:
- Two bedrooms.
- Washer & dryer.
- Hardwood floors.
- Outdoor patio.
- Walkable distance to a park.
- Indoor pool.
- Ten-minute drive from work.
- Under $700 per month.
Chances are, you won’t be able to find all ten of your top features in an apartment unless you are willing to pay top dollar. So, with that said, cross three features off your list. You should now be left with seven features.
These top seven features are what you can look for while perusing the best apartment rental sites we listed above. Sometimes, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle when considering apartment options. This will help you better stay on track.
Questions to ask when renting an apartment
If you have found a few apartments that meet your top features, you are now one step closer to finding your dream apartment… but, you aren’t quite there yet. You still need to figure out if you and the landlord are the right fit for one another. Below you will find 10 questions to ask when renting an apartment:
- How quickly can I expect emergency repairs to be addressed? Leaks and busted pipes happen, it’s important to know how quickly they can be fixed. You don’t want to walk around on wet carpet for two weeks.
- What expenses are not already covered in the rent? Some landlords can be shady and throw random expenses at you, so make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.
- Are there any updates you are planning to make to the apartment within the next 1-2 years? One, it’s nice to know you are potentially moving into an apartment that is about be renovated. Two, you may not want to have a unit located near where the renovations are taking place. Try getting some shuteye near a construction site–it’s tough.
- Can I sublet my apartment? If you expect your job to take you to another city for 2-3 months, you don’t want to be paying rent for an apartment you aren’t living in. This can also be applicable to AirBnb. In busy cities, some tenants list their apartments on AirBnb and make some nice additional income each month.
- How far in advance do you need notice before I move out? Things come up, unexpected moves happen, so just make sure you are prepared. You don’t want to be paying thousands of dollars because of an unexpected circumstance that is out of your control.
- Where can I park? This may sound like a little thing, but nobody wants a 5 minute walk to their apartment, nor do they want to pay $250 a year for parking. Be sure you understand the parking policies.
- How do I pay rent? Some landlords still live in the stone age and may prefer checks over direct deposit. You don’t want to be scrambling around trying to figure out how to give your landlord your money nor take the risk of accumulating late-fees.
- What determines whether or not I receive my security deposit back? This is a big question because sometimes security deposits can be hefty. You want to be certain you can get back the $1,000+ you put down for your security deposit.
- Will you notify me before entering my apartment? Privacy is important, you need to know under what conditions your landlord can enter your apartment.
- Can I have guests? Make sure your friends can come and visit you. If your apartment is strict about guests and you plan to have a lot of them, it may not be the right fit.
Lastly, We Want to Leave You With an Apartment Checklist
It’s been a lot of fun sharing with you our super-secret apartment hunting tips, but now we need to head out and get started on our next article that will help make your big move easier.
We are doing our very best to ensure that nobody has the same experience as our dear friend and teammate Dennis. One of our customers brought a cat into the office yesterday and he passed out cold.
Anyways, with all that said, we wanted to leave you with a small checklist you can use while finding your dream apartment:
The Ultra-Awesome Apartment Checklist:
- Does my apartment fall within my budget? (Rent should never be more than 25% of your gross monthly salary).
- Does my apartment meet my 7 top features?
- Have I asked my landlord the 10 essential questions, and am I happy with his or her answers?
- Is it cat-friendly? Seriously, get the heck out of there.