Maybe you’re an upperclassman moving out of your dorm room for the first time. (Yay, no more dining hall food!) Or perhaps you’ve actually graduated and you’re expected to be an actual adult with a place and a job and all that. (Terrifying!) Either way, you need to find an apartment to live in for at least a couple of months… But you aren’t quite sure where to begin.
Before signing a lease, there are a variety of factors that you want to take into account when picking out your first place. Whether you’re deciding between several options or you think you’ve found “the one,” here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Location plays a large role.
Some things to take into consideration when deciding on an apartment are whether you feel comfortable in the neighborhood it’s in, how close you live to family and friends, and how close you live to the places that you visit often. Do you want the slightly larger apartment that’s a bit out of your way or the smaller one that’s three blocks from your BFF?
2. Proximity from work might play an even larger role.
At the end of a long workday, you might just want to sink into your couch with a large bottle of wine–and the closer you live to work, the sooner you can do so. A little bit of a commute isn’t the worst thing in the world, but if you pick a place that isn’t too far from the office, you’ll probably thank yourself later.
3. Affordability has to factor in.
Make sure that you can pick a place you can actually afford! That should go without saying, but it’s easy for college students or recent graduates to underestimate their costs of living and overestimate how much they are going to make at their new jobs. If your parents are helping out, be respectful and stay within their price range. If you’re on your own, look at your finances very carefully before committing to a place.
4. Who will your neighbors be?
Make an effort to find out who you’ll be sharing a building with if you choose this apartment. They don’t have to be your best friends, but do they seem generally quiet and respectful, or do they have five rambunctious kids under ten? A good thing to take notice of is which of your walls are shared walls; if your bedroom shares a wall with someone’s living room, it could be an issue if they’re entertaining often (and loudly).
5. Take a good look at your landlord.
Have a long conversation with your potential future landlord to gauge whether they are someone you can get along with. Do they seem agreeable? Do they seem knowledgeable about the building and their responsibilities?
If a landlord is extremely eager to rent a place out, that can be a red flag. If they’ve been trying to fill the space forever but haven’t been able to so far… Why?
6. Look into pet-friendliness if you have furry friends.
If you have a pet or you think you might adopt one in the not-so-distant future, make sure that you choose an apartment with an animal policy that will allow you to bring in whatever kind of pet you’re interested in. Some apartments ban all pets, some only allow small ones, some allow cats but not dogs, some allow small dogs but not large ones… Review all of those specifics.
7. Find out which utilities and perks are included.
While even our entire apartments will probably never reach the size of Carrie’s (unrealistically) massive closet in the Sex and the City movie, a girl can dream, right?
“Air conditioning and heating included” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are paid for already. Make sure that you are clear on which utilities will be covered and which are your responsibility so that you can figure out just how affordable the place is.
Keep in mind any perks or advantages that a particular apartment may have over your other choices and assess whether they might be work any extra costs.
8. Test out the sinks, showers, and toilets to make sure they work.
Definitely, flush the toilets and turn every faucet on and off before you sign a lease. The last thing you want to deal with is a plumbing problem.
9. Visit before you commit!
Visit the apartment in person because sometimes places look a lot nicer online than in real life. Better yet, visit on evenings and weekends in addition to regular apartment-hunting hours; a place that is quiet on a Tuesday morning may end up being loud and crowded on a Friday night. Maybe that’s your scene and maybe it isn’t, but either way, you have a right to know what you’re getting into.
10. Take pictures.
Take pictures of everything in the apartment when you visit. That way once you commit, if something is broken and you somehow missed it before, you have the photographic evidence to show that the damage was there before you were.