Updated January 4, 2021 . AmFam Team
Choosing an apartment — it can feel overwhelming, right? One place could have the modern appliances you like, but come with a high price tag. Or maybe the apartment is great, but the neighborhood isn’t where you picture yourself.
That’s where these tips come in. With a little research and a clear understanding of your needs and wants, you can find a home for the next phase of your dream pursuit. You’ll be loading up that moving truck in no time!
Chances are you’re ready and excited to start looking for your new home, but there are some key steps you should take before you start searching. By being prepared and keeping the following in mind, you can make your apartment search a less stressful and faster process.
Have a defined budget when you start your search for finding a new apartment. Be honest with yourself on what you can really afford. A newly updated apartment might tempt you to spend more, but you don’t want to commit to a place that makes it hard to pay the bills each month. Be sure to consider all the additional costs outside of a security deposit, rent, in addition to the cost to furnish an apartment.
Here’s an easy way to set a budget when looking for a new apartment:
By following these steps, you’ll have a rough estimate of your monthly living expenses. This amount can help you determine how much you should spend on rent each month. Calculating your rent-to-income ratio — another method of determining how much money you can put towards rent — can be helpful here as well. For additional budgeting help, check out our list of the best budgeting tools like NerdWallet’s financial budget calculator (Opens in a new tab).
When comparing apartments, investigate the extras that are included — or not included — in the cost of rent. Maybe your ideal place includes heat, underground parking or cable and Wi-Fi. Perhaps it comes with an in-house gym that can save you the expenses of big gym membership fees. Weigh the cost of rent with amenities you need and find value in unexpected ways.
Cheaper isn’t always better. Paying to live in a place you’re not happy with isn’t the best idea, no matter how much it saves you. Take time to thoroughly examine each place you go see. Does it let in enough light? Is the layout conducive to your lifestyle? Do you have enough space for all your belongings? Can you picture yourself living happily in this apartment and neighborhood? If not, continue your apartment search. Your perfect place is out there.
Now that you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to start searching. Here are some important apartment hunting tips to keep in mind once you’ve started searching for your new apartment.
Security is a big factor when it comes to a good living situation, so verify that each of the building’s entrances are secure. Have there been any reports of crime in the building? If shipments arrive for you, where are they held until you can pick them up? A big part of protecting your dreams is protecting the little details, too.
When you’re searching for a new apartment, location is often a key consideration. There are many factors to think about when determining a location for your new apartment:
Consider all of these factors about location and neighborhood to ensure your ideal living situation.
Once you’ve found the apartment you think is best for you, there are a few more things you should look into. Check these items off your list before committing to your dream apartment:
When apartment hunting, ask if the lease being used is a standard lease or if there’s anything that is not within the regular lease. A standard lease is a one-year long commitment and cannot be easily terminated by the tenant or the landlord.
You’ll want to be fully informed about your lease before committing to avoid surprises down the line. Read through the lease carefully and be aware of any red flags such as:
These terms can cost you more money and may allow your landlord to invade your privacy. Consider looking elsewhere if you see these or similar terms on the lease.
One of the greatest benefits to renting an apartment is that when something goes wrong, someone else will be there to handle the details. Make sure the maintenance crew at the building is responsive and able to make any needed repairs quickly so you’re not living in a compromised situation.
Getting to know your landlord and the commitment they have to their residents is a good way of knowing how things will be handled going forward.
In addition to getting to know the landlord, be sure to ask as many questions you may have about the apartment. Consider asking questions like:
Your lease may cover some of these questions in detail, but your landlord should know the answers too. Key questions like these can clarify confusing policies or reveal hidden costs you may not have been aware of.
Finding a great apartment that fits your budget isn’t impossible. Keep these strategies in mind if you’re looking to save money on renting.
The tried-and-true way of saving money when renting is living with someone else. Splitting rent and utilities with roommates can significantly cut your monthly expenses, and it may even be more fun. Carefully check online for roommates using sites like Craigslist (Opens in a new tab), reach out to friends or read our tips for finding a good roommate.
During less popular moving seasons like winter, rental companies may offer promotions that cut the price for the first month of rent, or similar savings on parking. Take advantage of these specials and try to act quickly, as these specials probably won’t last long.
Your own washer and dryer is a great convenience, but they no doubt will contribute to higher rent and utility bills. Choosing to forgo certain appliances or other amenities you can live without can translate into savings in the long run.
Knowing how to search for apartments shouldn’t be a challenge. Listed below are some of the most popular websites for finding apartments. Each offers comprehensive options and filters that makes online apartment hunting easy.
When looking at listings using these sites, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and rent amount should all be easy to find. Some additional helpful features these sites use include:
Once you’ve found the right place, you’ll be ready to kick-start new adventures and dream pursuits. But before you pack up the moving truck, it’s smart to think about renters insurance.
Renters insurance provides protection for your personal property if it’s damaged by a covered event, and provides liability coverage if a guest is accidentally injured in your apartment. Since your landlord’s insurance only covers your apartment building, a renters policy can help to make sure your belongings — and your savings — are protected from the unexpected.