We all have our preferences when it comes to renting an apartment unit. Location, number of rooms, overall condition of the unit, views, appliances, parking, rental costs, etc. The list goes on. But you can't have it all unless you're willing to pay a high price to get everything you want. You'll need to prioritize so you can get some of the things that matter to you. When you're touring a potential rental, it's easy to get distracted by a couple of things. The building looks great, and the units are clean! But is there enough closet space? How is internet access? Is there an elevator, or do you have to walk up five flights of stairs to get to your unit? Keep a list of the things that are the most important to you, and you'll be in a much better position to make a decision. Here are 7 of the most important things you should look for in an apartment.
Yes, it is said that location is everything, but that's only mostly true. You can live in a great location and hate your actual apartment. But be conscientious about how close your potential rental is to your place of work (people do quit their jobs because the commute is just too far), grocery stores, public transportation, restaurants, and that all-important friends and family network that makes the rest of life livable.
Look for a location that fits most of your requirements, and also check the local crime statistics to make sure it's safe. Pull up Google maps to see what's close to you. Love pizza? What about the train that runs you right to work? Is there a pre-school nearby that gets good reviews? These are all important considerations you need to look at before choosing a place that's right for you and your family.
This doesn't just apply to you if you own a car. What if you have visitors? Even if there isn't reserved parking for your unit, it's important to have parking that's close and dedicated to your apartment complex. If you are relegated to just street parking, it could pose a major headache when you're in a rush or when the weather is less than savory. You don't want to have to hunt for parking every day when you come home from a long day at work.
Ask the leasing office what the parking arrangements if you can't tell from just looking at the property. Also, keep in mind that if the location is in the city and properties are very close together, it may just be commonplace to street park. If you're used to that, and it doesn't pose an issue, then no worries. Just don't get distracted by a nice apartment without a parking lot if this is important to you in any way/
We've already mentioned the safety of the parking lot, but overall apartment security is a really big deal. Just because the unit you're looking at isn't on the ground floor doesn't mean you shouldn't be concerned. Higher floors are generally safer, but you find that there's easy unlocked access to upper floors, then you should be concerned. If exterior lighting is poor or your potential apartment rental opens up to a dark area that's isolated, then you should seriously reconsider. If you find broken bottles and shattered car windows in the parking lot, steer clear.
If your lobby has a doorman or security 24/7, that should provide peace of mind, but that usually equates to higher monthly rent. If it's not a secure lobby, make sure that when the front door to the building is closed, it's actually locked, as is the interior door until someone buzzes you in. Be smart when it comes to security, and you'll sleep easy in your new apartment.
You could have the nicest apartment you can afford, but if the heating and cooling are poor, then good luck. Overall comfort is largely contingent on this. Does the unit have central heating and cooling? It might have radiator heat for winter and window units for air conditioning, as is typical for older apartments. Some apartments won't permit window units because of safety or exterior aesthetics. Whatever the case, you should find out. If there's a thermostat, is it controllable by the tenant, or does the landlord have control?
If you don't happen to know based on looking at the outside, definitely inquire on your tour. If it's a vacant unit, then test the heating and air conditioning. Don't hesitate to find out because it could make the difference between bliss and misery. This is one factor that sometimes gets overlooked by renters, to their everlasting regret. Also, window units generally use a lot of electricity, so take that into account, as well.
This is a big one. Of course, you can't always do your tour when things are busiest (mornings, evenings, and weekends), but you should endeavor to check things out when most people are home, which will give you an indication of noise from neighbors. Also, ask an existing tenant that lives in an adjacent unit to let you know how the noise levels are. Also, on your tour make sure you can tell how well the unit is insulated from noise. If walls, floors, and ceilings are thin, then look out.
Also, if the building is close to train tracks or near a busy intersection where there's a lot of traffic and a busy nightlife, that could spell sleepless nights for you and your family. Stay away from entertainment venues, nightclubs, train tracks, and fire stations if you really want peace of mind. Finally, if you love hardwood floors, you know you'll have to put up with some noise. Carpet is generally better and especially so if all units are carpeted by the landlord.
How well-appointed an apartment is when it comes to daily appliances can make all the difference. Look inside the unit. Does the fridge look ten years old? Is there an electric stove instead of gas? Does the dishwasher look like it needs to be replaced? Also, if there's laundry in the unit, how updated are the washer and dryer? If there's a laundry room, is it well-maintained and clean with good quality washers and dryers (and is there more than just one of each?)
If the apartment generally looks good, but the appliances are old, consider finding another place where your rental dollars are actually being reinvested in the appliances found inside. If the fridge is garbage, your food will spoil faster, and in the end, you'll waste precious dollars.
If the landlord is kind and responsive during your tour, that's a good sign. If it looks like he or she just wants you to sign th lease by pressuring you to decide, it's definitely time to look elsewhere. Also, is the landlord or superintendent on site or off site? This could make the difference between whether or not they respond in a timely fashion or just get around to doing thing when it suits them.
If there is a general leasing office with multiple personnel, that's usually a good sign, but not always. You can also perform your own reconnaissance with existing tenants to ask how good the landlord is in resolving issues or problems they've had. Also, if you call the landlord, and they don't get back to you in a reasonable time to answer your rental questions, you know they'll probably be just as bad when you're living there, so consider yourself warned.
In the end, be inquisitive and keep a list of your priorities when it comes to renting. It will save you a lot of time and headache when it comes to living in your new place, and you can consider yourself a savvy renter if you stick with these guidelines.