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Guide to Apartment Hunting

August 20th, 2013 - 9:44 AM


Tips for apartment hunting

Apartment for Rent: Mt. Adams Bar and Grill by cincy Project, CC BY 4.0

What to Ask When Apartment Hunting

Before you hit the streets searching for a new apartment, you need to outline what type of apartment you want. Do you want a quiet bungalow in an eclectic part of town? Or a hip studio near the bus route? I’ll help you narrow down your needs, give you some options for where to find apartments, and then give you the exhaustive list of questions to ask when you’re apartment hunting.

What do you want in an apartment?

Before you start your search, narrow down your needs. Make a list of the top things you need in an apartment. Check out our Apartment Hunting Guide below and make note of the items that seem most important to you. Do you need your apartment to be close to your job? Accessible via public transportation? Do you want on-site laundry or a fitness center? What are your “must haves”? Pick out the top 5 things you are looking for when searching for an apartment. This will help you narrow down your options.

Where to find apartments

I recommend three different approaches when apartment hunting: looking online, asking around, and hitting the streets.

Searching for apartments online. There are a few sites I recommend for apartment hunting: craigslist.org, mynewplace.com, apartmentfinder.com, and local real estate sites. On Craigslist, you can search through apartment listings, but beware of scams (which can be prevalent on Craigslist). Avoid the scammers: don’t ever give anyone money online without seeing the apartment in person. On the other apartment hunting sites, you can sort by price, bedrooms, and other qualifications to see what is available to fit your needs. Be sure and call the properties to check availability and schedule a showing.

Ask your friends about apartments. Ask friends, coworkers, and other people you know in the area about apartments. They might give you recommendations of places where they currently live, or have lived before, or places where friends-of-friends live. Networking can be a great way to find different apartments, especially in new cities.

Hit the streets to find apartments. If you have neighborhoods in mind, you can roam around looking for “for rent” signs. In my small town, we drove around out of curiosity and found four different places for rent that I hadn’t seen online.

The Apartment Hunting Guide – Everything to Ask About Your New Apartment

This list may seem thorough, but you’ll want to find out all of these answers before you move in. Even if some of these things aren’t “deal breakers,” you need to know the details about the apartments you are looking at.

  • Location in town. Is it convenient for you?
  • Location in the building. Do you prefer upstairs? Is it next to the noisy entrance (not good) or the laundry room (easier to do laundry)?
  • Are the smoke detectors in working condition?
  • Is there a fire extinguisher nearby?
  • Are the hallways clean and well-lit?
  • Can you paint the walls?
  • Can you nail into the walls?
  • Is the apartment well-lit?
  • Is the flooring in good condition?
  • Is there an eating area that will accommodate your family?
  • What appliances are included? What appliances do you have to buy?
  • Are the appliances included in good working condition?
  • Is the heat gas or electric?
  • Is the stove gas or electric?
  • Is there air conditioning?
  • Are there ample closets/storage spaces?
  • Are the jacks for TV and Internet in good locations?
  • Are there electrical outlets in convenient locations?
  • Are there locks on all doors and windows?
  • How is the noise level?
  • Are there curtains or blinds provided? Are there curtain rods available? Can you hang them if not?
  • Check the water. Check the color/smell along with the water pressure.
  • Where are laundry facilities? Do you have a washer/dryer hookup or on-site laundry facilities?
  • Is there a bike rack?
  • Is there parking available for your vehicle?
  • Where are the mailboxes? Are they in a safe location?
  • Where are packages left? Is there an on-site office where you can have packages delivered?
  • Is the landlord on-site?
  • Where do you pay rent?
  • Is there a fitness center or pool?
  • Is there a deposit?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • What do you do about garbage?
  • Can you sublet?
  • What are the terms of the lease?
  • Is there an elevator you can use when moving?
  • How long can you park the moving trailer here?

If you ask all those questions, you’ll be totally prepared when apartment hunting. I’m sure you’ll find something that fits your needs. If you have any questions about our guide to apartment hunting, or how to find the apartment that meets your needs, just leave a comment.

If you need more information on how to move into your new apartment, check out these helpful resources:

Moving by Myself
Moving to a New City
What is the cheapest way to move a one-bedroom apartment?
Cost to move an apartment cross country