Apartment hunting is an exciting yet often stressful process.
However, before you can start thinking about the number of bedrooms you want, whether or not you need a porch, or if you prefer a gas or electric range, you need to determine the location where you want to live, something that can be much easier said than done.
To help you make a better and more efficient decision, there are some important questions to ask. Some you can answer yourself, and others will require some research, but put the time in to find the answers so that you can be sure you’re looking for apartments in the best possible place.
What are the neighbors like?
No matter how much you love a place, noisy, inconsiderate neighbors can quickly ruin your life.
Find out from either the current residents or the landlord who lives next door, above, and below, to see if there are any issues.
You may find that those living in the place now can offer you better advice than the landlord, but it’s good to ask both.
This question is especially important when you’re moving into an apartment building. Thin walls and noisy neighbors can ruin your sleep and make the rest of your life miserable, so make sure to check out who you’ll be sharing the space with and how much they will impact your experience in the apartment.
You may also want to inquire about what goes on in the neighborhood. If someone down the street has lots of loud parties, that too could be a dealbreaker.
What are the parking/public transport options?
You may fall in love with an area, but if it’s a pain to commute, or you can’t find parking for your car, then many of the positive aspects of living there will be negated rather quickly.
Find out if the apartment comes with a parking spot, and if it doesn’t, spend some time driving around the area to see what it would be like to find somewhere to leave your car.
Make sure to look at peak times, too, such as weeknights after six, to see what it would be like to park when everyone else is also looking for parking.
If you don’t have a car and plan to take public transport, do a few practice runs before committing to the place. Making two transfers might not seem like a big deal when you’re looking at a place, but it could end up being a major problem in your day-to-day life.
What else is nearby?
The living space you choose to rent is a top priority. But also make sure you’re moving to an area that’s going to provide you with all the amenities you might need and want.
For example, consider how far it is to the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, post office, etc. Again, your new place isn’t going to be all that exciting if you have to travel a half hour or more to get food.
However, you will also want to make sure there are enough entertainment options for you.
If you like going out to bars and restaurants, find out how many are nearby that you’d like to check out. Also, look up how close the nearest gyms and movie theaters are, and ask yourself how willing you will be to travel to these.
Having these options will also make it easier for you to integrate into the neighborhood. You won’t have to travel as far for a good meal, and who knows, maybe you’ll find a place “where everybody knows your name.”
Is it safe?
Your home needs to be a place where you feel completely comfortable. No exceptions.
To begin, take a look at some statistics regarding the area, such as the crime rate, number of break-ins, car insurance prices, etc.
These will give you an idea of what the area is like, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you use to make your decision. Some statistics could be out of date, and others can be deceiving, meaning they might not reflect the current state of the neighborhood.
Instead, consider checking the area out at different times of the day, especially at night. Are there people on the streets? Is it well lit? Do you feel comfortable?
Doing this will give you an idea of what it might be like to rent in that area, and this should help you decide if it’s really where you want to live.
Is it an in-demand neighborhood?
While this is a question you might think is more fit for someone investing in real estate, it’s important you consider it because it will give you an idea of what might happen to the rent. More specifically, will it go up?
Most landlords these days are also property investors, and so they are looking for maximum return on investment. This means that if you move into an apartment in a good area where a lot of people want to live, they may start raising the rent year after year until you can’t afford it and they find someone who can.
However, this question is more suited for those who are looking for a long-term rental. So, if you’re worried demand in the area will drive you out after a year, talk to the landlord/property manager about signing a long-term lease.
This will lock in the price and will free you from worrying if you will be able to afford your place from one year to the next.
Take Your Time
You will need to ask hundreds of questions about an apartment before choosing to rent it, but these five are the most important when trying to figure out where you want to live. But because this is such a big decision, make sure to take your time, weigh all your options, and go with the place that makes the most sense for you.
Liana Tanaka is a property manager and rental agent at 10x Living at Grandview in Austin, Texas. She helps renters find the right amount of luxury for their budget while also managing an apartment complex that has exceptional amenities designed to offer tenants an unparalleled living experience.