Apartment Hunting 101

A lot of people will be moving this summer, including me. Since starting college, I’ve lived in three different places, with varying rates of success, so I consider myself a bit of an expert on the topic. One piece of advice?

There is no “perfect” apartment

The “perfect” apartment doesn’t exist. But with these tips, you can get pretty close.

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Step 1: Figure out your necessities

Sit down and make a list of everything that you want your apartment to have. Then get rid of about half those items. This isn’t House Hunters, guys.

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Step 2: Start looking

This is the fun part, where you get to spend hours on Trulia, Zillow, and local real estate sites, saving every apartment that catches your eye.

As you’re reading through descriptions, keep an eye out for words like, “cozy,” “vintage,” and, “2 year minimum lease.” What they actually mean is, “cramped,” “old,” and, “we have a problem with people moving out quickly.”

You also want to look for any hidden fees. These include things like move-in fees, parking fees, and fees for amenities that you might never use. And which might never work, like the printer in my building’s computer room that hasn’t worked in two years. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

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Step 3: Checking out possible apartments

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a couple places, it’s time to start making visits. Whenever you’re looking at apartments, be sure to take note of everything, from the courtyard and stairwells, to the electric sockets and inside the kitchen cabinets. If possible, talk to your future neighbors, both to get the inside scoop on the building and to see if they seem like people that you can put up with for the next year or more.

For a pretty thorough, and highly entertaining, list of things to look out for when apartment hunting, check out this article: 5 Things Everyone Forgets to Check When Apartment Hunting.

Step 4: Move-in Day!

Yay! You found a place that meets your standards, won’t have you over-drafting your bank account every month, and doesn’t have pests, sketchy neighbors, or low water pressure. Now, you get to pack up all your belongings and move them across town (or the state, or the country).

Don’t worry, I’ve got a post on that coming up soon. Just relax and enjoy the fact that you won’t be homeless when your current lease runs out.

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