Moving to an apartment after years of staying with parents, guardians, relatives, or even a roommate can be a stressful ordeal. You need to find an apartment that offers accessibility, flexibility, and affordability. Remember, this is a place you’ll be calling home for some time, even as you dream of buying a house. So, you need ample space to make it represent you. So, how do you achieve this?
Let’s look at some tips to help you get a great first apartment.
Make a budget
Before you commence looking for an apartment, first draft a preliminary budget for yourself. What is your total monthly income? How much of your hard-earned money can you afford to pay for housing? The standard rule is that never spend more than one-third of your yearly salary on accommodation costs. If you spend more than that, you are burdened with rent. Remember, you will also have to pay for other utilities (water, gas, electricity, etc.) every month, not to mention food. Once you have established your budget, rework and stick to it.
Will you prefer being surrounded by people, or would you rather have space? How necessary is it living off a subway line? Could you end up living in the vicinity of a park? And what is the cost implication of all this? These are important questions you should ask yourself before settling on a preferred neighborhood, as they will determine how much you’ll enjoy living in that area. Nevertheless, no matter where you live, you are bound to face trade-offs. Consider a neighborhood with facilities, aura, and amenities around. If possible, take rounds in the neighborhood to have a general view of available amenities.
Make a checklist
Most people often get overwhelmed while finding apartments and forget to check the items and places they had prioritized. Make an organized list of all your needs and wants in an apartment. Check off your list while touring and use the information to decide on what you will settle on.
Google apartments and read reviews
Pay attention to reviews, especially the negative ones, but use your judgment. If a person had a bad experience with many apartments, they are most likely to complain often. It’s best to check for reviews with similar complaints. Check on multiple sites and get a general view. Common complaints to look at include crime, bugs, etc.
Once you have landed on an apartment you perceive to be good, you still need to inspect it. So, schedule a walkthrough. Before you enter the apartment, ensure you check for anything that the owner might want to hide. First, ensure that all the showers and sinks run clear, check on top of shelves and inside cabinets for animal droppings. Also, check that all appliances work. Carry a phone charger to test if all outlets are working well. Many of these issues are often swept under the rug so ensure to check thoroughly.
Get a friend to help you decide
You can involve a trusted friend, roommate, or relative during your apartment hunt. Get someone who will not allow you to make rash decisions and knows about apartment features, and keen on finer details. They might spot something you missed.
During the apartment walkthrough, ask whoever is showing the property as many questions as you can. Some questions you can ask the property manager include; is there a laundry room in the building? Does the rent payment include utilities? How to request a maintenance order? Is there a garage and a parking fee? If they’re running a background check, will they provide you with a copy of the rental credit report? Once you have all your questions answered, you can now have a good idea of what is required of you.
Before you sign, read closely and plan your move
You might be tempted to skim over your lease like any other document, but you must read and understand your lease well before signing it. The lease will help you understand when and how much rent is to be paid, how you conduct yourself within the space, and how to move out. This is a binding contract between you and your landlord, and it needs to be upheld all the time.
Keep a copy of the lease to ensure the landlord is treating you as promised and that you follow all the rules. Make your decision to move approximately 24 to 30 days before the actual move-in date. In addition to this, it’s a good idea to plan your move during the off-peak season. This means closer to summer months or away from the start of school when more apartments are available for long-term lease. This will save you a lot on rent.
Do not feel intimidated when finding your first apartment. Make a budget, get a second eye, explore the neighborhood, and plan adequately to move. You got this!