5 Things You Need to Know When Apartment Hunting
1. Start Preparing 6 months to 1 Year Ahead of Time
I know that sounds weird and super far off, but it’s never too early to prepare. What I mean by prepare is to start buying things you’ll need for your new place. I started off by buying my pots and pans, kitchen utensils (Silverware, serving utensils), towels, and oven mitts, cups and bowls. You get the gist.
I started buying the more expensive things early so that I could avoid having to stock up once I officially moved out. I didn’t buy a sofa, and my family didn’t offer or donate any furniture like so many other families do. So we had to live rough for a few months before we could afford a furniture set. #Independent.
2. Renovated Doesn’t Always Mean Better
My very first apartment was really nice-but I had roomates. My second and third apartments were pretty basic and traditional. Everything worked, carpet was clean, hallways were clean, and I didn’t have to worry about anything breaking. Although the apartments looked pretty outdated, I made it feel like home by my décor.
My fourth apartment was a completed renovated unit. It had an open concept kitchen, wooden floors, a fireplace, great lighting, and it was in a peaceful neighborhood. The management seemed GREAT like at my previous apartment, but unfortunately once winter hit that all came crashing down.
Our apartment would not heat past 65 degrees. 65 DEGREES! In the coldest part of a Minnesota winter! When I called the office, they told me to seal my entire patio door with plastic sealant (and pay for it myself) because the boilers were turned all the way up. My dog was freezing, which says a lot. So we had to use the oven to heat out apartment until I had enough and grabbed a space heater. Management stopped answering my phone calls. The workout room always smelled horrendous and they illegally inspected my apartment after move-out when I wasn’t present (more on that another time). The floor slanted, and there were cracks in the foundation which caused bugs to creep their way in. Yuck!
Although we tried to make that place a comfy home, it was really difficult when things just weren’t up to par. Since they charged a LOT for this very bad reno-unit, I decided to not renew my lease and instead move to the city again. That apartment was traditional, plain, big, and comfy. But…there were roaches…which brings me to my next point.
3. Scope Out the Neighborhood/Building Complex
No, this does not mean that you judge the “good” or “bad” neighborhood based off how many Black folks you see. I mean that you need to check if it is a good fit for you. When you take a tour, make sure to check for signs of neglect on cleanliness. Check for mice droppings, insects, and strange things on the walls they can’t explain. If a unit hasn’t been rented in a long time, ask about the history of the unit.
If you’re feeling friendly, ask a current tenant about their stay there. Also, make sure to check for the cleanliness in shared spaces like the laundry room, workout room, and lobby. I didn’t really check the workout room when I moved into this apartment. I was too in awe by the many machines they had. I also needed an apartment at that moment and couldn’t be too picky (never rush the process).
Lastly, when you’re scoping, check out the reviews but don’t let one or two bad ones deter you from signing the papes.
4. You May Have to Compromise
When I first decided to move with my fiancé, we wanted so many things. Good amenities, a reno-unit, dog friendly, cheap rent, a swimming pool, quiet neighborhood. You name it. Unfortunately in apartment living not all of that is possible. If you want a reno-unit, expect to pay some big bucks. Unless you’re my little sister and you like finding reno-units for the low with stipulations. Too much paperwork for me, dawg.
When we moved into our first apartment together, we knew that management was great from our first encounter. We found them by accident and walked in to do a tour. We fell in love. The amenities were cute and perfect. There’s a swimming pool outside, a bonfire pit, a dog park, quiet neighborhood, and ok neighbors. The rent was affordable then for two full-time working folks. But, we didn’t get a reno-unit. We were okay with that though, we made due with what we had. Now, 2 ½ years later, we’ve come back to the same apartment.
5. BUDGET, BUDGET BUDGET
Yes, that’s a thing you have to do as an adult. Who made up that rule? Probably some old gramps complaining about us millennials ruining the economy.
Anywho, make sure to plan out what you’re going to save and spend in regards to:
-Move-in costs (this includes moving trucks/hiring movers, food, etc.)
Learning to budget this will definitely help you in the long run. My fiancé and I would add together all the bills we had, and for each check we would take out half and set aside for bills. For example, let’s say:
We split that cost right in half so we each paid: $565/mo
So, for each check I’d split that in half again. I put away $282.50 per paycheck towards bills. Then I’d put some in savings and use the rest to pay other small bills and…you know…shopping.
We were able to get furniture by using that model. I definitely recommend doing that if you are able to.
Okay, I’m done talking..er, I mean…writing. Whatever, I’m done because my hand is starting to cramp but before I do take this very last tip:
It is not about the having the nicest apartment. It’s about making your apartment feel like home.
Have you tried any of these ideas? Leave a comment below! Also check out some of my previous apartment photos below!