Planning to Lease an Apartment? Here’s How to Pick a Winner.

While there’s plenty of advantages to homeownership, there’s also nothing like living in a cozy apartment that comes with access to a full-time staff who are tasked with making your life easier all around. If you need a repair in your unit all you have to do is call maintenance. Having problems with a noisy adjacent neighbor? Call your management office so that you can get a good night’s sleep. People residing in apartments never have to shovel in the wintertime, nor are they responsible for manicuring their lawns. Yes, apartment living can be convenient, but you also have to choose the right place to stay. As you go on the hunt for the best apartments to rent, keep these principles in mind.

Apartment Size and Location

You may want to live in a sprawling three bedroom loft styled apartment with a chef’s kitchen and a doorman, but you also want to live in the right part of town. It is easy to look at apartment listings online and fall in love with the layout and amenities, but not feel as thrilled when you go to visit it in person. In short, you should be prepared to look at dozens of apartments in person before you start to get the hang of knowing what to look for. It is not unusual for apartment hunters to have one set of criteria at the beginning of their searches, then slowly change their list of requirements as they get more acquainted with the local market.

Amenities and Features

Some people don’t necessarily need to live in a luxury styled apartment building with 24 hour concierge service. You might actually want to live in a modestly sized one story walk-up apartment building that you share with a few other neighbors. There are pluses and minuses associated with living in a larger apartment building run by corporate management firms, such as more exclusive features and professional staff. On the other hand, you can also get into a nice apartment that is owned by an individual. The main difference is that you will have more apartment units available to you if you decide to live in a corporate managed apartment building. Expect to have features such as an on-site gym, laundry facilities, and an entire maintenance crew available if you live in a larger apartment building or complex.

Lease Terms

Most apartments available for rent require occupants to sign a lease. Of course, there is also the option of buying apartments, but for the most part apartments come with rental agreements that can run from month to month or last for several years. First and foremost, expect to have your credit examined before being offered a lease. Apartment managers also want proof of income, so your tax returns and or your paycheck stubs should be available to confirm that you can pay the amount of rent being asked for. Lease terms are fully explained ahead of time, and you will learn about any rules that management expects you to abide by. These rules may apply to trash disposal, visitors and parking.

Apartments and Pets

Whether you own a furry friend or have a keen interest in becoming a pet owner, you will want to know your apartment manager’s rules as they pertain to pet residency and security deposits. There will be some apartments that strictly forbid the ownership or even presence of pets on their property. Of course, you will find out quickly that these apartments are not for you when you start looking for a new place to live. Other apartments have restrictions on certain breeds of dog, only allow cats, or limit the total number of pets that can live in a single unit. In addition to picking up after your pet in the common areas, you also need to be mindful of any damage your pet does inside of your apartment. Security deposits for pets are frequently required to help offset the cost of carpet cleaning as staining and odors are a regular problem. You will also want to be certain that your pet is suitable for apartment living. A small unit might be just right for you, but if your pet is used to ripping and roaring, there could be major issues in your future.

Moving, Parking and Access

When looking at apartments for rent, you want to pay attention to more than just the unit itself. Picture yourself on moving day as you lug boxes up the stairs or attempt to get your furniture through the front door. Look at the width of the hallways and think about how many flights of stairs you will need to walk up. If the designated parking area is far away from your apartment, consider if a hand truck will be needed to help you complete your move. Find out if your apartment management office will allow you to move in when it is most convenient or if there are set times and days that you can schedule your move. If things seem to complicated at the beginning of your tenancy, you can expect there to be more restrictive rules that you will have to conform to during the course of your lease.

Picking an Apartment

There might be a few different apartments that you can see yourself living in long term, but considering the big picture is crucial for making the right choice. Everything from your commute to work to the proximity of grocery stores should be taken into account. Affordability is also important as you don’t want to sign a lease to live in an apartment where you will struggle to pay the rent.

It can be easy to get into an apartment quickly but you may want to get out of it just as soon if you aren’t prudent when choosing a place to reside. You can work with a professional apartment rental agency if you want peace of mind, or you can just look through the classifieds section of your local newspaper if you are determined to make a match on your own. Just remember that your new home should be a place that you want to call your own for as long as you can.