You know it’s time to move. Your lifestyle has changed, your needs have changed, and you’ll be parting on good terms with your current landlord. You’ve picked out your moving day songs. You even know where you’re going to get Renters Insurance for the new apartment. But how do you go about finding your new place? How do you choose an apartment that will meet your needs for years, and that comes with as few surprises as possible? There are a few things to pay attention to that will make it easier.
Do Your Research To Choose An Apartment
What’s important to you? Rent? Up front costs like deposits? Neighborhood? Amenities? Playgrounds? Flexible lease terms? Size? Make a list of the things you care about. Then put it aside for the afternoon. Go out for coffee. Think about it. Then come back and add the ten more things that came to you while you walked away from the list. Now you have something resembling a complete list.
Put it all in a spreadsheet, and start looking online for apartments or complexes that meet those needs. Some questions you’ll be able to answer easily and eliminate or shortlist a particular property. If you work in Charlotte, anything north of Gastonia on 321 is probably out of the question – it’s just not worth the commute. Look for reviews online, but take them with a grain or two of salt. One particular review site has a terrible habit of hiding reviews that “aren’t recommended” and then making you click something else to see even more reviews that “aren’t recommended,” so many people miss most of the reviews. Then start making calls to get the other questions answered.
Visit The Community To Choose An Apartment
This is an important part of picking where you want to live. It’s important to show up to visit the apartment looking ready to impress the manager or leasing agent – right or wrong, your appearance does say something about you. You don’t have to go all out, of course, just make sure you’re not wearing the same clothes as when you changed the oil in your car.
When you visit, look around to see if you can get an idea how much pride your potential neighbors take in their home. If they have things lying about everywhere and blankets on the window, that may be an indication that they don’t have much concern for their surroundings. If that’s the case, they won’t have much concern for you, either, and are likely to be disruptive.
Visit during the day and night, so you can get an idea of the amount of people coming and going, and how considerate people are in the evenings. You don’t have to set the night visit up with the leasing office, just take a quick drive or walk through the grounds to see the sorts of things that go on. It never hurts to be on time for the appointment you do schedule with the leasing office, of course, as that’s something that prospective tenants are often judged by. If you’re late to the appointment, will you pay the rent on time?
Things To Look For When You Choose An Apartment
Have a checklist of things you hate about your current place, things you love, and all the things you friends have ever complained about in their own apartments. Apply this checklist at the walk-through when they’re showing you the apartment. Does it smell funny? Does the carpet need to be replaced? Can you hear other residents or noises outside? Do you have privacy? Is a private entrance important to you, or is a shared entrance just fine? Can you handle the stairs a few times a day if applicable?
Make sure you can afford it, as well – it’s not just a question of affording the rent. How much savings do you have if your employer were to close their doors tomorrow? How many months could you afford the place for? How big of a dent will the security deposit and required fees and expenses of moving put in your emergency fund? Also, make sure the neighborhood is reasonably safe and affordable for your Renters Insurance. You don’t want to move to an area with a major history of claims – not only for your own safety, but because your renters insurance will cost more there, since claims history of the general location is taken into account in rating.
Choosing an apartment can be complicated, and it’s a decision that you’ll have to live with generally for at least a year. Since moving is such a time-consuming and difficult process, it’s a choice you’re likely to live with for even longer because very few people actually want to move with any frequency.
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