Apartment hunting can be frustrating–especially if you haven't apartment hunted in a while or if you're looking for your very first apartment. While apartment hunting can be stressful, it doesn't have to be. We've compiled a list of the very best tips to follow when apartment hunting to reduce stress and make the process as painless as possible.
Tip #1: Figure out your budget first
One of the quickest ways to find yourself in over your head is to forget about your budget when you start your apartment search. You might find yourself finding apartments that seem to fit just right–only to notice at the last minute that it's completely out of your price range. So the very first thing you need to do is figure out what your budget is per month, and narrow down your search using your budget as a limit. If you want, you can add a small buffer of $25 to $50, as long as it won't hurt your finances.
Tip #2: Make a list of priorities
To make the most of your apartment hunting, you need to make a list of your priorities; take special care to note priorities that you absolutely won't compromise on, no matter what. For example, if you are planning on getting an apartment with your child and you know you want your child to have their own bedroom, then 2 bedrooms is definitely a "no compromise" priority.
Priorities can include apartment features such as: needing to have a washer and dryer in the apartment; needing 2 bedrooms in the apartment; having access to a resident-exclusive swimming pool; secure car or bicycle parking; on-site security surveillance; etc. The items that you can't compromise on should be given the top priority, with priorities that you don't mind settling for should be lower on the list.
Tip #3: Get your documents ready beforehand
No one wants to scramble at the last minute for your important documents. That is why you should get all of the documents you might need when applying for an apartment and have them ready in a secure folder or binder. The most common documents you'll need are your credit history records, previous pay stubs, contact information for a previous landlord, as well as a personal profile with information like your name, age, occupation, as well as anyone else who will be renting along with you. Best of all, having your documents ready is likely to impress landlords, who will appreciate a tenant who is professional and prepared.
Tip #4: Don't forget to research the neighborhood
It's not just the apartment unit or building that you'll be living in: it's the neighborhood, too. That is why you need to do some basic research on the neighborhood to see if it will be a good fit for you. You'll want to look up factors such as nearby shops, cultural and social events, and you can even walk around the neighborhood to get an idea of its general vibe and walk-ability.
Remember: Apartment hunting doesn't have to be a hassle as long as you follow these great tips!