Apartments & Housing

Apartment Hunting? This guide is here to help.

Looking for a new place to live can be an overwhelming process, and there are seemingly countless options. Whether you are looking for an apartment or renting a house, living alone or with roommates, this step by step guide will help you conquer the hunt.

1. Think about what you want.

Before you look at any places, start thinking about what you want from where you live. Price, location, floor plan, and amenities are the key things to think about at this stage. Do you want to be able to walk everywhere or are you okay driving? Do you need a washer and drier in the apartment or will you do laundry somewhere else? Also think about which items are the most important. Are you willing to pay more for a better location? Could you give up the washer and drier for a balcony? If you plan to live with roommates make sure you have this conversation together so that everyone is on the same page.

2. Make a list.

Once you’ve decided on what you want from your new place it’s time to start making a list of the places you are interested in. Websites like Apartments.com will let you search based on area, price, and other criteria (such as whether they allow animals or not). When you’ve chosen a few places make a list with each of them and important information about each place. List the name, address, and contact info, as well as other things you are looking for, such as price and floor plan, so that you know what to expect from each place.

3. When you visit.

Now that you have your list it’s time to start visiting. If you plan to visit several places in one day make a rough plan of which ones you will visit when, and make sure to check the hours that they are open. Try to pick a nice day, for insurance reasons some places may not be able to show you an apartment if it is raining. Have a few questions in mind when you visit each place.  Ask when you could move in, how are maintenance issues resolved, does rent usually go up some each year, etc.

4. After the visit.

When you leave each place try to jot down a few notes about what you liked or didn’t like. These can be really nit-picky (you didn’t like the wall color) or bigger issues (the place doesn’t seem clean or well-kept). Writing these things down will help you remember specific things about each place that may get lost or confused once you’ve visited a bunch of different places.

5. Making the decision.

Now that you’ve visited all the places you were interested in, it’s time to choose. Looking at your list, try to quickly eliminate any of the ones you really didn’t like. When looking at the ones that are left compare them based on the original list of things you wanted. If they all have some of the things you wanted, think about what you decided was most important. If you are living with roommates be sure to do this step together so that you are all happy with the place you choose.

6. After the decision.

Congrats! You’ve chosen your new place! Unfortunately the process does not stop there. Next you need to fill out an application (and pay any fees). At this stage determine whether you need a cosigner and if you will be doing separate leases with your roommates. Once your application is accepted pay any other initial fees such as a security deposit.

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