Choosing Your First Apartment: 8 Things to Consider
Living on your own comes with its own set of challenges and it increases your responsibilities immensely, but there is no denying the fact that the sense of freedom and independence is well worth the initial learning curve. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be as tough as it usually is for first-time apartment owners/renters, so long as you prepare yourself against some of the common mistakes that most people make.
You can look to online resources like the Apartment Guide blog to find answers to pretty much any questions you might have. This blog covers every aspect of living in an apartment, so their advice is not just useful for first timers, but anybody who currently lives in an apartment or is planning to shift to a new one soon. But to help make your transition to independent living easier, consider the following nine points while trying to find your first apartment.
The Daily Commute
One of the most important factors to consider before you even start looking for your first apartment is the amount of traveling you will have to endure on a daily basis if you shift to a certain location. There is no point in getting that beautiful apartment when it involves a daily drive of 2+ hours, just to get to and back from work or university. It’s not just about how far the apartment is from your office or school though, it is also about how far it is from all the places that you often travel to for laundry, groceries, etc.
Then there is the question of whether or not the location is suitable enough for the people that you will be living with. Even if you are going to live alone for some time, it is always better to consider future conveniences as it is a hassle to change locations once you have already found a good apartment and settled down. Long hours of commuting on a daily basis is both expensive and tiresome, so factor in the time and money you are losing out on due to the regular commute as well.
Be Practical about the Neighborhood
Choosing an apartment isn’t just about deciding on the general location of the apartment itself, but also about the very neighborhood you will be living in. Do not risk your wellbeing and safety just because you are trying to save a few bucks. Make sure that the neighborhood you are moving to isn’t a dangerous one, especially if you don’t have any acquaintances there. Check the reputation of the place by asking around and also visit the local precinct to get a realistic idea of the crime rates there. Visits during both the day and the night are advised to truly scope a neighborhood out before moving into it.
Finding the Right Roommates
This one is easier said than done because it isn’t always possible to judge whether or not someone will be a good roommate just by talking to them. Nonetheless, the basic idea is to find people with similar interests, hobbies and ideals. If your potential roommate/roommates are already living in the apartment, pay an unplanned visit to the place and see how they live before making a decision. There is always going to be a chance that you may make a wrong choice, so trusting your instincts and using your powers of observation are going to be critical here. As an additional precaution, try running a background check on your roommates and the landlord if you think that is necessary.
The Pet Factor
Some buildings do not allow pets, which is something that obviously won’t work out if you have one, or plan to get one soon after moving out on your own. It is quite possible that the building might have a rule against big pets only, which would mean that smaller pets would be allowed and that is another important question to ask the landlord. On the other hand, if there are no restrictions on having pets in the building, you need to carefully consider whether or not having a roommate’s pet in your apartment is something that you can live with. It is true that animals generally make fun and jovial companions, but people are often allergic to certain pets and there is very little you can do about it, unfortunately, even if you love animals.
Is It Worth the Money?
Getting your money’s worth means different things to different people, but it all comes down to a few questions; does the rent (or the price of the apartment if you are buying it) feel appropriate to what you are getting? Do the added expenses push the cost of living way too high? Are you spending more money on it than you should? Don’t get into a contract unless the answers to these questions satisfy you completely.
What About the Parking?
The parking laws in the United States vary widely, depending on not just the states, but the cities and sometimes even the specific section of a town or city. Therefore, consider asking the following questions first, unless you want to end up getting a ticket or parking on the road because you just don’t have anywhere else to park!
Is there a legal parking spot that comes with the apartment?
Are there more cars than there are parking spots?
If you must park elsewhere, consider the total expense of rent + parking while comparing options
The Facilities and the Safety
Basic amenities such as heating, cooling, internet access, etc. are things that most standard apartments will provide to their tenants by default, but asking about them and checking them out in person is always a good idea nonetheless. Ask whether the rent covers at least some, if not all of the utility bills. Just like with the parking, calculate your expenses as rent + utility bills when you are comparing the options. Some of the other questions that you should be asking while inspecting the property are as follows:
Are there working smoke and fire alarms?
Is there an access to the fire escape?
Is the building and the apartment well lit?
How is the water pressure?
Was there a mold check anytime in the last year or so?
Are the renters allowed to redecorate or modify the apartment?
Are the Papers in Order?
Just because there’s a legal contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean it covers all bases. If you are not completely aware of legal statutes that the state has put in place to protect the interests of the renters and tenants, consult legal counsel before you sign anything. See if the clauses, stipulations, liabilities, accountabilities, rent structure, the fine print, and the legal language has anything that can prove to be particularly disadvantageous to you in the long run. If the owner is in a hurry or if the rent or price seems too low, there is probably something wrong and it’s better to wait and clarify everything first.
These were, of course, just some of the important details from multiple others that you will need to consider while getting acquainted with apartment living. Make sure you research the apartment and area well, as your final choice is likely to affect many more future decisions.