So you're finished with school and you've decided to move into your own apartment. You think excitedly about all the possibilities and how awesome it will be living on your own. You then start making plans about how you want to set up your space and the type of décor you want. Then reality hits and you realize, you don't have an apartment. So before all the fun stuff comes the dreaded challenge of finding an apartment. Apartment hunting is essentially a rite of passage for all of us who are out here trying to adult. It's perfectly normal not to get it right the first or even second time. I know I didn't. In today's post, I wanted to share some tips to consider when you decide to hunt for an apartment.
The first thing you want to consider before living on your own is if you can afford to do so. Living on your own means you will be responsible for yourself and the day to day upkeep of your living space. A good technique to start with is to create a realistic budget detailing everything that may be required when you live on your own. This budget should include rent, food expenses as well as utilities. Once you create this budget it will be easier to determine how much you can comfortably pay for rent. When you have an idea of what you can pay for rent this will narrow your search. The budget will also prevent you from getting into a situation where you have problems covering other expenses. Ensure that you also factor in possible upfront costs, such as first and last months' rent or a security deposit.
What are you looking for?
Do you mind sharing amenities? Would you want your utility bills to be included in the rent? Do you prefer a furnished or unfurnished apartment? These are some questions you should ask yourself when you're apartment hunting. You should have an idea of some things you would want in an apartment. Are there things that you consider necessities for you to rent a place? If you have these in mind it is best to make a list. Write down all the things you would like your apartment to have. These can range from the absolute necessities to things that you would like but may be willing to compromise on if it is not available. Your list should of course be realistic in that your budget must be taken into consideration. However, there are some things that you should never compromise on regardless of your budget. These include amenities such as light and water and at a time like this when working from home is still a thing for most people I would also say internet access. It is a lot easier to search for an apartment when you have an idea of what you are looking for.
Location is another vital point to consider when apartment hunting. There are several reasons why location is important. You may want to be close to your place of work. My favourite part about living close to work is the additional hour of sleep I can get. I have colleagues who live so far away that they have to leave their homes before 6 a.m. to beat the traffic. If sleep isn't your thing you can use the extra time to exercise or practise any other self-care routine. Another reason to consider the location is for security purposes. As beautiful as our island is, crime is still very rampant and while nowhere is 100% safe, some places are more volatile than others. When apartment hunting you'll want to look for places in areas that are relatively safe. You will also want to be close to frequently used locations, such as supermarkets, salons and restaurants. Depending on whether you drive or use public transportation you will also want to consider how easy it is to get from one place to another. For example, is there likely to be a lot of traffic or are there bus stops nearby? Bear in mind that your budget would also affect your location as some places might be out of your price range.
Visit the Property
Before you even consider renting a property ensure that you view it first. This is an essential aspect of apartment hunting as this allows you to see what you are getting before money changes hands. I remember a few years ago when my friend and I were apartment hunting, we were fresh out of university so the budget was small and we wanted to rent a space together. We were willing to share amenities if we had our own rooms. We went to look at an apartment and the first thing that stood out was that the landlord lived in the house so we would be sharing the space with her and one of the rooms we were being offered had no door. Suffice to say we did not take that place.
When you do visit the property you must do a thorough check. You want to ensure that you check the water pressure, there's nothing worse than having to shower with barely a trickle because your neighbours are using their pipe. It sounds crazy but trust me when I say it happens. You should also check inside the cupboards, cabinets and closets for signs of rodents or possible leakage in the kitchen and bathroom. Speaking of leakage, if possible visit on a rainy day that way you'll get to see if there are any leakages or if water is likely to seep under the windowsill or door. It's also a good idea to go with a trustworthy friend when looking at a property. This way they can help you prevent you from making irrational decisions.
When you visit the location this is usually the first opportunity you have to speak with your prospective landlord or property manager face to face. This is the perfect time to ask them all the questions you might have concerning the apartment. Ask about your contract. Renting an apartment is a business agreement and you should always have a contract when going into a business agreement. Having your contract will protect you from getting the short end of the stick if the landlord decides to go back on their end of the agreement. While this can be noted on your contract you should also ask questions about the maintenance of the apartment. Find out who is responsible for fixing any issues you may encounter while living there. Do you own a pet or do you plan to own a pet? Ask about their pet policies if any. Some landlords believe they should have a say where guests are concerned. With this in mind, you should also ask about their guest policies. You do not want to go into a rent agreement without having the full picture of what to expect. Here are some additional questions you should ask before renting. You can also come up with your own questions.
- What documents do you require from potential tenants?
- What costs are required to move in?
- Which, if any, utilities are included in my rent?
- Is there a grace period for late payments?
- What are my limitations on personalizing the place?
- What type of security measures are in place?
Hunting an apartment is hard. The best approach is to be prepared. You should have an idea of how much you are willing and able to pay, where you would want to live as well as a clear idea of what you would want to make your living experience more enjoyable. Remember that renting somewhere means you will be living there for a period of time and whether this is a long-term or short-term residence you always want to be comfortable. Go with your gut.
Have you ever hunted an apartment? Share your experience in the comments below.
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