Finding an apartment can be stressful and time–consuming, but there are some easy ways to make it less so.
The first step is finding out what you want in your next place. This includes the amount of space you need and any important amenities, such as laundry on-site or parking. Start by narrowing down what you’re looking for based on those criteria and then hit the road to start visiting them.
Whether you are looking for your first rental or not, it is important to prepare yourself before jumping into the housing market. You’ll need to be honest with yourself about what you can afford and get creative if space is limited.
How to Shop for Apartments
When you’re hunting for a new flat, it can be tempting to go for the bigger, more expensive one.
You might think that’s what you need or deserve, but, before you sign any dotted line, take a step back and evaluate if you have enough money upfront to pay for it. Think about sustainability — are you able to pay rent on time?
You definitely do not want to end up in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. A good way to avoid this is by making financially sound decisions.
With that in mind, if you’re looking for a new flat (apartment hunting), but don’t know where to start, look no further. We’ve compiled a list of tips for finding your perfect place.
Set Your Rental Budget: A Range is OK
One of the first things to get right when looking for a new place to live is the budget (security deposit amount, monthly rent fee, pet fees, and so on). It is important to compare your income with how much you can afford in rent.
Many people in the big city don’t understand what a fair rental budget is. This is why they end up in a pricey apartment that they can’t afford. To find apartment deals in your neighborhood, you can look through your local newspaper classifieds or go on websites to search apartments for rent.
A good rule of thumb would be for your rent to be no more than 25% of your monthly income. You also want to make sure you have a realistic idea about how much money you will need each month for other expenses.
Keep in mind that if your income falls below 50% of the median income in your area, then you can qualify for income restricted housing.
Calculating how much you can afford to spend on rent or a mortgage is difficult. What’s more, understanding how your income and monthly expenses compare to your rental budget is even more difficult.
A rent calculator can make this math much easier to do by giving you a fast and easy way to input all relevant information.
Determine Your Location
Location is one of the most important factors during an apartment hunt. Different neighborhoods can have vastly different rental prices for units and homes.
Understanding your budget and what amenities you want will help narrow down which neighborhoods to look at. For example, many people may think that they can find a good place to live among all the options in a city, however this is not always the case. Cities often have more expensive rental apartments compared to suburban locations, so it is worth narrowing down your neighborhood before going for a hunt.
Real estate websites are a great way to find an apartment at your desired location. They also allow you to filter by amenities, such as a gym, pool, and fitness centers. These websites also have virtual apartment tours and photos that show you what the apartment looks like inside and out, with their respective rates.
In addition, if you’re looking for a place to settle down, don’t stop with the cheapest option. Make sure that the new location provides easy access to social amenities, such as public parks, schools, grocery stores, and hospitals, among other things.
Also, living closer to your workplace and public transportation means lower transportation costs. Another good reason to pick a location wisely is to be in a safe neighborhood.
Establish a List of Amenities that are Must-Haves for You
People are living in flats for a variety of reasons. Some people are looking for a more affordable option, while others work in the city and want to live closer to their workplace.
Regardless of the reason, they must have amenities in their apartment that make them feel at home. Amenities may include balconies, dishwashers, laundry facilities, storage space, and more.
You need to know what to ask when apartment hunting. When you’re looking for a new place to live, remember to ask yourself these questions.
● What about the amenities?
● What about a dog park?
● Is there a swimming pool around?
● Is there a fitness center within the apartment complex?
When you’re searching for a new flat, you will notice that the amenities available to you vary from building to building.
In order to know how to find the perfect apartment for your lifestyle, you must take time to read through all of the information and use filters, such as the number of bedrooms, apartment pet policy, and laundry availability.
A virtual apartment tour does not show you what is in each unit. It’s a great way to save time, but it doesn’t give you a feel for the property, the amenities, or the unit’s location. You need to see it in person.
Although the flats you shortlisted may seem perfect in a virtual tour, there are many things that you can’t get from a computer or smartphone. As a result, it’s worth touring the apartments that you have shortlisted in-person to compare their condition for yourself.
Another reason for visiting the apartments in-person is to meet the current residents and learn more about their living experiences. So, you’ll want to ask questions like how it feels to live there, what are the pros and cons of living there are, and if they have any advice for you on where you should go next.
The truth is, you want to find a home that feels like a true reflection of yourself and your needs.
Ask Your Potential Landlord Questions
When you move into your first apartment or house, it’s important to know your rights as a tenant. You should ask the landlord or property manager about the building’s rules, lease terms, and other restrictions. You should also find out when your landlord can increase rent.
As a new resident, it can take a while to get the lay of the land. That’s why it’s a good idea to try and understand your new place before you start moving in.
So, before you sign that lease, carefully consider asking your future landlord the following questions:
● How much rent will I pay?
● Is it necessary for me to have renters insurance?
● Is there a surcharge for having a pet at the property?
● What are the rules for garbage collection?
● Are utilities included in my rent, or will I have to pay separately?
You also need to know if the property has ample parking or not so you don’t have any problems finding a spot. If there’s not enough parking on-site, it’s important to find out if there are any nearby alternatives so that you don’t have to worry about your vehicle.
If Your Demands are Met, Consider Doing a Rental Application
Before you start applying for a rental, it’s important to set up your credit check (get a free credit report from all three bureaus) and financial records. This includes making sure you have a good credit score by paying off any outstanding debts.
Whether or not you plan on getting a co-signer, it’s also important to make sure that your current landlord approves you. This can be aided by ensuring you have a solid relationship with your current and past landlords.
Now, why is an application necessary during an apartment hunt?
The application is one of the first steps toward securing a place to live. The fee to fill out a rental application is typically anywhere from $30 to $50 dollars, mainly for facilitating administrative costs and credit checks.
Also, before applying, double-check that all of the information is valid. Your request may be rejected if the information provided is inaccurate or false.
It’s Time Move-In
Moving is one of the most challenging tasks you will ever undertake. It’s more than just packing up your belongings and shipping them to your new home. Countless tasks need to be completed before you can consider yourself “settled.”
Half the moving work is done if you make sure you book a truck in advance. You can save yourself from last-minute stress and easily book a truck online. Consider hiring an experienced mover who offers both packing and unpacking services to make your move easy. Waiting until that last minute can all increase the cost of the moving process.
Ways to Save Money When Renting Your New Apartment
Apartment prices vary depending on location, but there are some general trends. One of the most important factors in determining the price range of a house is the location.
For example, you can expect to pay more for higher-quality houses in expensive areas, like New York City, San Diego, or San Francisco, than you would for an equivalent home elsewhere.
If you’re looking for a more affordable lifestyle in a big city, like New York and San Francisco, this article will give you the tools and tips to save money when apartment hunting.
Find a Roommate and Split the Monthly Rent
Many people in big cities are finding a roommate to split the bills (monthly rent, security deposit, utility bills, etc.). By doing this, they’re able to cut the rent and other living expenses in half.
It can be hard to find someone willing to live with you, but it could work out for both parties if you find that right person. If you can’t get recommendations from close relatives, consider doing a keyword search online, such as “looking for a roommate.”
Friendships are hard to come by. If you don’t have a close friend you can rent with, consider finding someone you can agree on important things and live together. It can be hard to find people who share similar values and interests, but it’s still possible so long as you are determined.
During your apartment search for a roommate, consider agreeing on the following before moving in together:
● How to split the house chores
● Guest boundaries and how long they can stay in the apartment
● Smoking and party rules
● Other payments (i.e. if one roommate breaks an item, is the cost split?)
The idea of living with a complete stranger can be a little bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. When making such a big decision, it’s important to get off on the right foot and avoid potential problems. Addressing the items above will help ease the tension and nourish your friendship.
Consider Looking for Discounted Rents
New apartment complexes are a great place for people to live. They’re often cheaper than older apartment buildings because property managers want to attract many tenants.
The best way to take advantage of a better deal is by signing the lease and moving into a spacious, modern apartment building before some other potential renter does!
Once the rules are clear and acceptable to you, don’t wait for too long, everyone is looking for that unit.
Whenever Possible, Avoid Moving During the Peak Season: It’ll Cost You More Money to Relocate
The demand for flats tends to increase during the summer months.
Young people are out of school (moving on from student housing) and looking for jobs, families are moving to different areas for new jobs, and retirees are looking to spend their summer in a cooler climate. As the supply of available units decreases, prices will inevitably go up.
While you will be reeling on the effects of high rental home prices, there’s another line item to consider in the logistics cost. With increased demand, truck booking prices will also go up, affecting your moving budget.
So, what is the best month to look for an apartment and move?
During winter, truck booking is cheaper, but why is that so? The low cost of trucking during the winter is mainly because fewer people are moving during this time.
Rental prices are also lower because many landlords are more willing to rent out their units at a lower price range rather than leaving them empty for an extended period.
Be Quick to Negotiate the Rent Prices
Negotiating rent will lower monthly expenses for both the tenant and landlord. This means more money in your pocket at the end of each month, as the tenant.
For landlords, renting at a reduced price can help them avoid spending money on marketing their property and allow them to maximize their profits.
For example, if you pay $300 less than the market price, it could save you over $15,000 dollars over the course of a five-year lease.
So, before you sign the dotted lines, consider making adjustments to your rent, if applicable. Once you sign the lease, you lose your leverage. You can also view here our guide on how to read an apartment lease.
Consider Living Outside the City: Suburban Areas Have Cheaper Housing Options
When you are on your apartment search to rent property, it is worth considering the cost of renting just outside of the city center. Not only are there more properties for rent, but you will also see a drastic reduction in your monthly rent.
It is not always necessary to rent in the city. With the help of a reliable real estate agent, you can find great deals on flats that are just outside of the city.
Living in the suburbs has a lot of advantages, as long as you’re willing to relocate away from the city core and its high expenses. The suburbs provide multiple apartments that offer affordable housing and great living amenities.
Select Your Amenities Wisely: It Could Make the Difference in Monthly Expenses
When choosing an apartment, there are many things to consider, especially what amenities come with the apartment, like in-unit laundry vs. on-site laundry.
Depending on the type of renovations that have been done to the unit, and if there is in-unit or on-site laundry access, costs might be higher than expected.
Non-renovated units are cheaper, but they will come with a cost if you want certain amenities. So, choose your amenities wisely before moving into an apartment.
Many people are often tempted to go for “luxury” when comparing apartments, but what if these include things that you don’t need? You could save money by opting for the lower-tier units.
Take Advantage of Good Deals When You Come Across Them
If you’re ready for apartment hunting, it’s important to be prepared and not hesitate. When you find the perfect new home, don’t wait too long because rents often change daily.
To show your seriousness, let the leasing agent know you feel confident and fill out your application. This way, they can move it to the top of the list and get you a better chance at getting approved for the home or apartment.
Consider the Units on the Middle Floors
People like to live on higher floors for various reasons, but that often means they will pay more in rent. Also, the lower levels of the building are more likely to give you easy access to your unit, which is why they are more expensive.
If you want to avoid the higher fees of having a room with a view, go for apartments on the middle floors. You may need to use the stairs or elevator, but you’ll save big bucks.
Determine the Living Space You Need: More Square Footage Comes at a Premium
If you want to live in a space with high ceilings, ample room for storage, and a balcony, you will pay more rent. The price of renting an apartment depends on the size of the space and the number of rooms. For instance, a studio apartment usually has one or two rooms and is also small.
A recent study by Trulia found that in most U.S. cities right now, the median cost of renting an apartment is $1,770, and with each additional square foot, the price only increases. With this in mind, when looking for an apartment, take a tape measure to assess the amount of living space you require.
The process of renting an apartment can be tedious and time consuming, along with requiring careful consideration. When looking for a new home, there are many factors to consider, such as safety, affordability, and features.
Also, remember to shop for renters insurance when searching for a new place to live. Renters insurance can save you money whenever a disaster strikes and destroys your household items.
It can be overwhelming to find a great neighborhood for you on your own. That’s why we created these informative apartment hunting tips on finding the perfect unit for you!