I’m coming up on my one year anniversary with my apartment! As of November 7, 2015, I would have made my nest in this sweet little apartment for one year.
Look how far we have come together. 🙂
This anniversary also got my thinking about how challenging I found it to find an apartment.
A little back story: I live in what is increasingly becoming a college town (we have 3). There are quite a lot of apartment buildings but many of them attract lots and lots of college students. That put me in competition with them mid-semester so there wasn’t a lot of turnover.
Here’s what I learned in my first time apartment hunt:
1. Set your budget.
This is the most important factor in deciding which apartments to even look at. Make a nice Excel sheet with all of your budget items and find that comfortable range of how much you can spend on rent. Do NOT overspend here; it’s not worth it. Really be honest and budget for a place that you can live comfortably in while also paying your bills and having money to save and have fun with.
2. Decide your general location.
How long do you want your commute to be? Do you want to be able to walk to places? Are you looking for something more country or more city? What side of town do you want to be in? Where do you feel safe? Those were the general questions I asked myself when determining the general area I wanted to live.
3. Talk with friends.
This is probably the best way to become aware of places to live – and be guided if they were good places or bad places. Plus, you can hear first hand stories about the rental company management. The rental company can make or break your feelings about where you live.
The place I live in now was highly recommended by friends – and I never even knew it was there! Without them, I wouldn’t have found my apartment.
I also learned of rental companies to NOT rent from and places that felt a little shady.
4. Craigslist and Apartment Finder
Yes, the power of your friends can greatly help in this process but they don’t know everything. I found a lot of great apartments via Craigslist – where both rental companies and individuals renting out their own places.
Apartment Finder was helpful, but not my favorite. It can definitely show you all the major apartment buildings around and you can sort by price and type of apartment.
5. Drive around
I found so many places by just driving around my designated area. I would literally see a place, pull in, Google it, and if I liked the pictures and prices, I would place a phone call right there and then to the rental agency. Might as well hop right on it!
6. Viewing Places
Once you are beginning to look inside of the different apartments, my number one suggestion is to trust your gut. Your gut it what ultimately tells you if this is home or not. There were a couple of places I almost rented, but felt hesitant on. Then, I walked into my current apartment. No hesitation. A smile lit up my face. This was home. It felt right.
My number two suggestion when viewing places is to hang around in the parking lot and talk to people. Ok, ok, I know this sounds creepy but it is important to talk to the residents there. I would just say I was considering renting and ask how they liked living there, how the rental company was, was it quiet, and would even sometimes ask if the utility costs were reasonable (because sometimes places have bad insulation and all of a sudden your electric bill is crazy high and you’re stuck!).
I hope if you are looking for an apartment that you find these tips helpful! Are there any other you would add?