What Is the Best Way to Find an Apartment

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Best way to find apartment

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Here are some of the best ways to find an apartment

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Step 1: Figure Out the Area You Want to Live In

Aerial view of the Philadelphia skyline at sunset

Before you decide to look for apartments to live in, you need to decide what area best fits your lifestyle. Think of these factors to help you narrow down a particular area or neighborhood.

  • Do you want to live near a school or workplace?
  • What kind of amenities do you want to be close to?
  • Do you need access to public transport to get to places?
  • Do you need access to shopping centers without the need to drive there?
  • Do you want lots of greenery, walking paths, and open spaces near you?

These factors will help you narrow down the area you want to live in. If you have figured this out already, move on to the next step.

Step 2: Write Down Your List of Must-Haves

checklist sample to fill out on apartment tour

Your next step is to decide what you want in the apartment and apartment complex. Make a list of what you want inside the apartment and also within the apartment complex. Here are some things to consider.

  • Does the apartment have
    • Washing machine/Dryer
    • Dishwasher
    • Enough bedrooms for your lifestyle
    • A study if needed
    • A balcony or outdoor space
    • Walk-in Closets
  • Does the apartment complex have
    • A pool or spa area
    • Gardens
    • Walking paths
    • Parking

These are just to give you some ideas of what you could have in the apartment. Make a list of the things you absolutely want and what would be nice to have so you can start narrowing down your choices to your specific lifestyle.

Step 3: Start with an Online Search

There are plenty of reputable apartment listings websites and apps that will give you an indication of what the apartment has to offer so you can start shortlisting the ones that meet your needs. Some of the better-known websites to look for apartments include

  • Apartmentguide.com
  • Apartments.com
  • Zillow.com
  • ApartmentList

Tip: Each of the above apartment listing websites contain a portfolio of brands that typically have similar listings. So chances are if you start with the “main brand site”, that should cover most of the listings that the search website has available. For example, Apartments.com also operates ApartmentFinder.com, ApartmentHomeLiving, and more. Apartmentguide.com has rent.com and rentals.com. Zillow.com also has Trulia and Hotpads. Each apartment listing website has differences as well.

You can also look at specific apartment community websites directly. These will often contain more information and provide you with a better feel for the community than simply an online listing website can provide. Type in ‘ ________ neighborhood apartments for rent’ and start searching. If you need a little more guidance, ask friends and family for some recommendations too.

Step 4: Use Images and Descriptions to Narrow Down your Searches

Which is Better? Duplex or Apartment | Picture of Both | www.phillyaptrentals.com

When looking online, you’ll want to make sure every listing has a comprehensive description and enough images to help you shortlist the apartments you are interested in. This gives you a better idea of what you can expect from the apartment. Use your must-have list and tick off the items on it. Apartments that meet most of your criteria are definitely worth checking out. If the description doesn’t quite explain everything, it might make sense to call the agent/landlord to find out so you can make a decision to tour it or not. You should confirm all features in the listing as well.

Step 5: Schedule Tours of Apartments You Have Shortlisted

Apartment Inspection | www.phillyaptrentals.com

Once you’ve shortlisted the apartments, it is now time to tour those apartments so you can see for yourself whether they are worth living in or not. You should call ahead to make sure that an appointment is not needed, or if an appointment is suggested. Start with your top choices and go from there. Make sure you take your list with you so you can see for yourself whether the apartment meets all your needs or not. This is a necessary step because online images can sometimes fail to tell the real picture.

Step 6: Compare Apartments

Once you’ve toured multiple apartments, it’s time to start comparing them so you can start finalizing the right one for you. Use these factors to help you with your comparison.

  • V  Value  (what’s the best value on a cost per square foot basis)
  • A  Affordability (can you afford it)
  • L  Location (what is the best location for your frequent items?)
  • L  Lifestyle (what amenities, what has best sense of community?)
  • R  Reputation (how is the property management company?)

This comparison should throw up some of your top choices, and help make sure you find a good apartment building.

Step 7: Ask the Right Questions

Can I Back Out of a Rental Application | Two Women Discussing | www.phillyaptrentals.com

Before you sign the lease, make sure to ask questions so you’re not left with issues later. Some questions to consider asking include

  • How many months is the lease for?
  • Who will take care of the repair regularly and in an emergency?
  • Who is responsible for regular maintenance?
  • What is the monthly amount I owe?
  • What is the security deposit?
  • Can I have a pet?

The more questions you ask, the more peace of mind you’ll get, and likely help avoid issues later.

Step 8: Sign a Written Lease

Once you are completely satisfied with all the answers, it is now time to sign the lease and move into your new apartment. Make sure you read and understand the lease in entirety.

If you are looking for the best way to find an apartment, use these guidelines to help you make the right choice.


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