I used to think that having my own apartment or house was going to be amazing. It would magically be decorated to my tastes and wouldn’t get that dirty. That was a pipe dream my friends. While having my own space is really fun sometimes, other times after 10 hours of work and coming home to a dirty kitchen, it’s not so fun. Matt and I are about to rent our second place together, and it’ll be my third rental.
We have had some interesting stories touring apartments, so I thought I would share tips and things to look for while apartment hunting!
Try Hotpads.com or Zillow.com
These are pretty great sites that are generally updated on a regular basis and they give you contact information. My best advice is to make a wishlist of what you want and where you want to be. Then look up apartments (with not price restrictions) in order to see what you would have to pay to get everything you want .
Once you figure out what you can realistically afford, use the search criteria to narrow down your list and start looking at some apartments.
Watch Out For Scams
I have fallen for two scams because I am a gullible person who gets excited very easily. Don’t worry, we haven’t lost any money, I’ve just lost a little bit of faith in people.
Anyway, here is what to watch out for:
- Someone asking for money up front: You should not have to pay to view an apartment, or to talk to it’s owner.
- The price is drastically lower than anything else in the area: If you’re looking at an apartment that is $300 or more lower than everything else in the area, it’s most likely a scam. You can still reach out, but just beware.
- There are no photos, or the photos are inconsistent: This is a big sign that it’s a scam, I wouldn’t even contact the listing. You might be losing out on something, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Other than just paying first and last month’s rent, there are probably a couple of other fees or deposits you might have to make. Here are the fees, that you should budget for or at least be expecting. As someone who hates unexpected charges and fees I normally look in exactly what we’re paying for, so I wanted to give you a head’s up!
- Security deposit: They might ask you for some money to make sure that when you move out you leave everything in good order. It’s normally a certain percentage of your rent.
- Application fee: To determine if you’re serious enough, and to help pay for processing your application you might have to pay an application fee. We’ve paid around $45 for applications before which seems to be pretty normal.
- Key Changing Fee: Some landlords or management companies might ask that you pay for the locks to be changed. It can be anywhere from 40-150 dollars depending on the number of keys/locks. It’s more for your own safety than anything, since you don’t know how many keys the last tenant had.
Ask These Questions
- How long were the last tenants here?: This can be indicative of how good of a landlord they are, or the price of the apartment. Our first apartment the couple only lived there for a year and left, which might have been a sign for how high the rent actually was. Our new apartment, the previous tenant was there for over 8 years which shows how great the landlord was.
- What utilities/ are included in rent, what are other fees?: Sometimes there are condo fees, trash fees, and other utilities that you have to fee. Write these down somewhere so you can budget for them.
- Ask about who is in charge off what: Who changes the light bulbs?Who fixes the broken cabinet door? Who shovels or weeds or takes care of taking the garbage out? It’s good to know what you’re paying for.
- What are the other tenants like?: Are they loud? Are they quiet? What are the expectations, like are people very friendly or do they not interact very much? It’s good to know, especially if you don’t want to be friends with your neighbors or if you want to.
The neighborhood can make or break an apartment. If you’re looking for a neighborhood full of life and things to do, be sure to check it out on the weekend or ask people who have lived there. Here are some things to consider about the neighborhood that you live in:
- Does it have an affordable grocery store near-by? (If you like to cook)
- Is there a convince store near by as well? (For last minute wine nights or late night snack runs)
- Are there cafe’s or places for coffee nearby?
- Are there restaurants for you to go to for a quick bite to eat?
- Ease of public transportation? Are you close to a subway or bus line to get you to work?
- Is it walkable if you don’t have a car?
- If you have a car, what is neighborhood parking like?
- Is there anything noisy around? Like are you above or around a bar?
These are just questions depending on your preferences, it doesn’t have to be about right or wrong, just what your preference is!
What do you look for when you rent? Anything I missed?
I think an IKEA haul is on the horizon because I find myself on the site so much looking for organizational tips and products and new furniture for our new apartment! (Don’t worry we wait until we move in to a new place before buying a lot of furniture)