Moving into your first apartment often comes after a major turning point in your life. Either you are leaving your parent’s home or you are at a point in time where you want to downsize and put an end to the rigors and expense of cutting lawns, shoveling snow, and the maintenance demands of home ownership. You’re starting a new phase in your life.
As exciting as this can be, there are probably a lot of nerves hanging around too. What should you look for in an apartment? Are you making the right choice? How do I avoid apartment renter regret? Understanding both the internal features (such as washer/dryer, central air, apartment size, etc), external features (such as swimming pool, clubhouse, parking), doing research, visiting apartments in person, comparing apartments, knowing the right questions to ask, reading the lease, and asking others about the complex and management, will substantially increase your chances of avoiding apartment renter regret.
Do Research Beforehand
It’s important to do thorough research beforehand to decide what you want. The more you research the apartment shopping process, the more you’ll be able to determine the kind of lifestyle you want and help avoid apartment regret. Use this guide to help you —
- Are you going to be living alone or with roommates? If you choose to live with other people, how many? This will help you determine how many bedrooms you need to look for in an apartment. For example, do you need a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartment?
- What areas or neighborhoods do you want to live in?
- How long do you intend to live in the apartment? For example, if your job requires you to keep moving, then a short-term furnished apartment may be a good choice so you don’t have to keep moving heaps of stuff around from place to place.
Pick Features That Are Important To You
You also need to decide what features are a must-have in your apartment. Create a checklist of must-have features. For example, what features do you need inside the apartment – washer/dryer, laundry facility, dishwasher, central air, large windows, balcony/patio, walk-in closets, etc. You also must determine what external features or amenities are important too, things like a swimming pool, clubhouse, and onsite parking.
Write down your must-have list of features.
Visit The Apartment In Person
Now that you know what’s on your must-have list, compile a list of apartments to tour
Don’t take anyone else’s word for it. Make sure you visit any apartment complex you intend to live in yourself so that you know exactly what to expect from the start. When you visit the apartment, follow these guidelines –
- Are you happy with the size of the bedrooms? Do they have enough space to accommodate all your things?
- Is the kitchen and living room generous enough to handle you, family or roommates?
- Is there enough lighting in the apartment?
- Is it accessible enough for moving companies?
- Are you happy with the layout?
Ask The Right Questions In Advance
When visiting the apartment, it’s important to ask the right questions before you sign the rental lease. Here are some questions to ask –
- How much is the rent per month and what is the security deposit?
- What other fees are there? Are the amenities free or is there a fee?
- What is the rental term? A yearlong contract, shorter or longer?
- How is rent paid and when does it need to be paid?
- Are pets allowed? Is there a specific pet deposit?
- Is there central heating and air conditioning?
- Are the grounds well lit and other general safety questions?
- How is trash taken out and when?
- Is there enough storage space?
- Does the apartment complex have any rules?
- Who to call if something breaks down in the apartment? How quick is the response time?
Read The Entire Lease
Most landlords and real estate companies will provide you with a lease. Make sure you thoroughly read it and understand it.
- Are there any conditions that may restrict you from your lifestyle? How late can you do laundry?
- What days and times are moving in permitted?
- Can you make any changes to the apartment while you live there? What is allowed and what isn’t?
- Who is responsible when something goes wrong in the apartment? Generally, tenants are expected to get in touch with the landlord or agent to get the issue fixed.
- Are there any special terms about withholding the security deposit? And if yes, in what circumstances?
Ask Others About The Community
Before you sign, find out more about the local community.
- Are the grounds and building well kept?
- Is there a lot of noise in the neighborhood?
- Is the area convenient to stores and transportation?
- Is management responsive to maintenance requests?
- What are the building amenities?
- Is there onsite parking? Is the parking adequate for your needs? Is it convenient? Is it an additional expense?
Naturally, when you’re doing this for the first time, you’re not sure what to expect. Follow this guide to help avoid regretting your decision on where to rent. Of course there are other factors, but hopefully this gives you a nice start.