Apartment Hunting? 5 Things to Keep an Eye Out For

Finding the perfect apartment to rent can be a challenging and tiresome process. You want to make sure you’re actually going to be able to afford the place, that it’s in a nice area, and that you’ll be able to bring your pet along as well. Considering all of the stress usually associated with apartment hunting, it’s easy to overlook some basic factors you should pay close attention to. Check out this article for a few tips about what to keep an eye out for.

Looking for an apartment to rent can be very exciting. You can already envision yourself painting all the walls deep red, decorating the furniture with cheap thrift store treasures, and hosting fancy potluck dinners where everyone discusses the latest Coen brothers’ movie. Not so fast though. Your enthusiasm, coupled with the stress of moving and the pressure of finding a place that meets all of your requirements can easily make you blind to certain flaws during your search. These flaws, if overlooked, can cause the apartment you’re considering to be hard to live in later on.

That dotted line on the list? Don’t sign it until you make sure you’ve carefully gone through every factor we’ve listed below. You’ll thank us later.

1.  Pests

Cockroaches and other nasty pests may not show their face in broad daylight when you’re most likely visiting the apartment. That’s why paying special attention to the cabinets should be top of your list. Besides checking to see if there’s enough storage space, make sure to keep an eye out for pest droppings, which usually look like black pepper. Also, make it a point to check the wood for signs of termite damage, and look behind cabinets or appliances for signs of mice nests. More on that here.

You can also use a flashlight for a better view of the darker, hidden areas. Keep in mind that this is not the time to worry about looking creepy. You’re the one who’ll have to live here, so it’s natural to want to make sure you’re not going to have to share the rental unit with a pack of vicious rodents.

2.  Functionality

Sure, the apartment may have all the appliances you need and plenty of electrical sockets to make great use of, but does everything work? Carry something small with you that can be plugged in, in order to test the outlets. A small nightlight, for instance, only costs about $2 and is easy to carry with you.

Again, don’t worry about looking creepy. If the landlord gives you a weird look, just say that you have a lot of appliances that need to be plugged in and you just want to know that everything works properly. Also, check the fridge, stove, and light switches. Turn on the faucets and the shower to check water pressure as well.

3.  Amenities

Is there a laundry room? Maybe a pool? What about a doorman? If you can afford it, an apartment building with some of these useful amenities can end up saving you money in the long run. Having a fitness center in the lobby means no longer paying for a gym membership. Pet services included in your rent means you will no longer have to pay for pet daycare, dog walking, or grooming.

Other amenities are just fun to have like a rooftop bar, a games room, or an indoor basketball court. Some Boston apartments, for instance, even have bocce ball courts. In New York, you can rent places in apartment buildings with amenities like tennis courts, movie theaters, and bowling alleys. Be aware though – all these perks are going to hike up your rent, so make sure your budget can handle it before taking the plunge.

4.  Rules

An apartment building is a community, so it’s important to ask about any rules you’ll have to abide by before moving in. After all, we do live in a crazy world. Some landlords don’t allow overnight guests, while other don’t let pets come near their buildings. Most apartment complexes also have residential quiet hours. Ask for a copy of the house rules before signing the lease. If you find them too restrictive, it may be best to move on to your next choice.

5.  Neighbors 

No one will be able to give you a more direct and helpful assessment of what it’s like to live in the building than your potential future neighbors, especially if they’ve been living there for a while. Knocking on a few doors and introducing yourself can do you a lot of good. Explain that you’re considering renting a unit in the building and politely ask about the landlord and the accommodations.

You’ll never find someone more honest than a tenant who’s been waiting for the landlord to come over and fix the heat for over a month, or one that has been complaining about the noise in the building for the last two weeks without any results. If you do move in, you’ll also see some friendly faces around, and that can go a long way.

Apartment hunting can be fun and stressful at the same time. Don’t let the experience get to you and push you to sign a lease you’re not going to be comfortable with two months from now. At the end of the day, home should be where you feel safe and happy. It’s worth taking the time to make sure it really is everything you’ve dreamed of.

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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