Four things to keep in mind when you’re looking for your first apartment

When you’re on the hunt for your first apartment, you might feel a combination of excitement and nervousness.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you visit an apartment listing website and see the thousands of available units in your city. There are so many options – where do you even start? What kind of apartment do you want? And what if you instantly regret your choice come move-in day?

But don’t worry, newbie apartment dweller! You don’t want to overthink too much when you’re searching for your first apartment. That said, there are a few key things you should keep in mind while you’re looking.

These tips will ensure that your apartment hunting goes smoothly, and that you’ll find a place that you love and which fits your budget and lifestyle.

1) Location, location, location

It’s important that you like the interior of the apartment you’re going to rent. But don’t ignore the location of the apartment. You should love the neighborhood you’re living in just as much as the apartment itself. Many first-time apartment dwellers fall head-over-heels over a particular unit, but they come to hate the surrounding area.

You might want to avoid getting an apartment in an area where there’s frequent crime (especially break-ins, vehicle theft, and vandalizing). But you also want to consider the location of the area relative to your tastes.

How far is the apartment from your job? Is there lots of traffic on the commute? Are there fun things to do in the area, like restaurants or coffee shops or parks?

Some people don’t mind having to commute far to work, while others prefer to be close enough to walk or electric scooter to work. Some prefer quiet suburbs, while others like the community to have more energy. It all depends on your preferences.

So just be sure to think about your preferences before you sign a lease. Your overall enjoyment of your apartment will surely be impacted by its location.

2) Your history matters

Most landlords don’t offer leases to just anyone. Before you’re offered the apartment, you’ll have to undergo a landlord credit check for tenants. This is a background check in which your landlord is able to view your credit score.

Your credit score is indicative of your financial stability and responsibility, and if your score is too low, your landlord might require you to get a co-signer or they might not offer you the lease altogether. If you think you have bad credit, it might be a good idea to get a credit card to improve your credit. A good credit score will make you a more competitive applicant.

Your landlord will also be able to view whether or not you have a criminal record, and a criminal record could also jeopardize your chances of getting a lease.

3) Don’t be house poor

Some people fall in love with an apartment that’s just outside of their budget, yet the decide to rent the place anyway. These people wind up being what’s known as “house poor.”

When you’re house poor, you’re spending so much money on rent that you can’t afford other things, like eating out, clubbing, vacationing, or putting money away in savings. You don’t want to be house poor because being house poor is not a fun experience, and it will ultimately counteract all the joy you get from renting or buying your first apartment.

If you want to maintain your financial freedom in an expensive city, it’s imperative that you determine your monthly expenses and income, and then determine a budget.

So don’t look at apartments that are outside of that budget. Only view listings that are absolutely within your price range. If you do that, then you’ll have an apartment to call your own, and you’ll also have some extra cash to hit the town!

4) Don’t forget about amenities

When you start viewing apartments, you’ll definitely remember to examine the kitchen area, the bathroom, the living room area, and the overall roominess of the place. But it’s easy to forget about some of the more important aspects of the apartment that aren’t so obvious to first-time apartment hunters.

The first thing you’ll want to check for is whether or not there’s on-site laundry. Ideally, your unit will have a washer and dryer in it, but many apartment buildings have communal washing machines.

Many of these washing machines charge quarters, while others require you to load money on a card; in other words, it can be expensive to do laundry at an apartment. Try and look for those units that have in-unit laundry, or at the very least, on-site laundry.

You’ll also want to account for parking. Most apartment complexes charge for a parking space, but it might be worth the expense in busier metropolitan areas. If there’s no parking available, you’ll have to find street parking everyday, which can be a hassle depending on the neighborhood. You might want to consider alternative transportation options, like rideshare transportation, so you can ditch the car and not have to worry about parking.

It can definitely be nerve-wracking when you’re looking for your first apartment, but so long as you remember to take the location into account, maintain good credit, stick to your budget, and review the amenities at each unit, you’ll wind up with a wonderful first apartment that you’ll remember forever.

Photo by chuttersnap