No matter your age, going out on your own to rent your first apartment is a major step. If you’ve never done it before, how do you know what to look for? It may come as a surprise, but there are tons of things to consider other than the usual question of “do I have enough space?”
In order to make this huge step go a little smoother, here are some tips for first-time apartment searchers.
Check your commute
One of the most important questions for anyone: How long is my commute? To figure it out, start with an app, like Google maps or Waze. To make sure you’ve got a good estimate of door to door travel time, the best advice would be to go on a practice run before you decide on an apartment.
If you’re taking public transportation, check the walking distance from the apartment to the nearest stop. Time how long it will take you to get there and check out the lay of the land. Your app might tell you that the stop is only a 5-minute walk, but what if it’s a 5-minute walk up a huge hill? Most likely, that might change your timing a bit.
Own a car? Be sure to ask about parking details like whether you have your own parking spot and if there’s a fee.
Lastly, take the time one day to check out the traffic patterns during the hours you’ll be driving to and from work. Your app might estimate a 20-minute drive, but if that turns into an hour drive during rush hour, you might not find that apartment so appealing anymore.
Test out the utilities
You don’t want to get comfortable on the couch and then realize you have no outlet to plug in your phone charger. Or even worse, have you ever left your phone charging overnight only to realize the outlet didn’t work at all? Both frustrating situations and both totally avoidable.
Take that charger you carry with you everywhere and test the outlets at every apartment you visit. Also take note of their locations. If your living room or bedroom only has one outlet, is that enough? Another tip: Run the faucets and shower and flush the toilet to make sure there’s sufficient water pressure.
Research your landlord or leasing company
Dealing with your landlord or leasing company may become a huge part of your life. The last thing you want to do is tie yourself to a lease with an unresponsive landlord. After all, they’re responsible for keeping your apartment and building up to living standards.
Before you sign, do a little digging. See if your building had any violations or complaints filed against it. A simple online search may also give you the clarity you need.
Sign a roommate agreement
In an ideal world, you and your roommates would get along like one big happy family. But we all know how unlikely that is. No matter how well it might start out, there’s a good chance you’ll run into disagreements down the. So why not get that awkward conversation out of the way before you sign a lease with anyone else?
There are plenty of sites where you can get generic roommate agreements but there are also some where you can customize it to your needs.
Also, no matter how much you love the apartment you’re visiting, do not get pressured into signing a lease (especially if it’s your first time there). Not only should you try to visit at least two more places, but you should also come back to your favorite apartment for a second look.