10 Tips for Smarter Apartment Hunting

by - November 14, 2021


When I was looking for my first apartment, I didn't have much to go on. I knew where all my coworkers lived, and I had recommendations from friends on areas to avoid, but short of going to all these places I had no way of really knowing which apartment was the right choice.

So one day after work (I was working overnight so I got off first thing in the morning), my mom and I toured a bunch of apartments. It was an experience, and I quickly learned that you can't always trust your friends' recommendations.

I wound up passing on the apartment I liked the most because the management was incredibly rude and ended up in an older one-bedroom unit that was larger than any others I'd viewed but which badly needed new carpet in the living room. Regardless of the carpet, I loved that apartment and lived there for two years before moving in with my husband to a newer complex - where my husband's truck was broken into and we had issues with the maintenance man being a peeping Tom.

Needless to say, you never really know what you're going to get, but there are ways to be a little more prepared before you sign a lease.

10 Tips for Smarter Apartment Hunting


1. Start Searching 60 Days Before Your Move
According to Nationwide Insurance, the best listings go earlier in the month, with the second and third weekends being the busiest. So you should plan to look the first weekend.

2. Search Listings Online
Nationwide says searching for listings online is a good way to start your search and get a sense for pricing and amenities. This is an option that I wish had been around back when I was doing my first apartment search.

There are a ton of places you can search for listings, like Zumper, who graciously teamed up with me for this post. You can use this online resource to not only find your next apartment, but also houses, rooms, and condos that are for rent. You can filter your search by location, price range, bedroom count, pet-friendly, and even amenities. Then when you find what you want, you can apply online.

3. Take the size of the apartment and your lifestyle into consideration.
According to My Decorative, your apartment should have plenty of room for you to move about comfortably. Your apartment should be able to accommodate your lifestyle, like working from home or frequent hosting.

4. Know the Location
Is it convenient for your daily life? If you have kids, is it close to your preferred school? Will you have a short or long commute to the office?


5. Red Flags
Pay attention to reviews. If there are more negative reviews than good ones, then you should beware. Also be sure to ask about the landlord. If they're non-communicative, that's a big red flag.

6. Negotiate for Upgrades
If you see something you don't like, like dirty carpet or scuffed paint, see if they'll do some upgrades before you pass on the place.

7. Know the Lease Length
You don't want to move in with the expectation it's for a year only to find out it's a six month or two year contract.

8. Familiarize Yourself with What's Available in Your Area
You should have a good understanding of the types of apartments that are available in your area as well as the difference between amenities. For example, a kitchen is not the same as a kitchenette, just like a studio apartment and efficiency apartment aren't the same.

9. Do a Walk-Through
Check for things like low water pressure, broken or unusable windows, and rotting floors.

And last, but certainly not least...

10. Beware Online Scams
You should never have to put down a deposit just to tour a potential apartment.

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