I just moved into to a new apartment and actually like it. I am excited to share some tips with you!
Will you have roommates?
Having roommates can dramatically reduce the price of a new place. You and your roomie would split everything. It is a good idea to have a roommate if you want to save money. I had various roommates over the years. My one piece of advice is that you definitely want to set rules and boundaries if you are going to have a roommate.
I would also recommend reaching out to friends before finding a random roommate. I have experienced both and at least if you are living with a friend (or acquaintance) you have some idea of what you are getting yourself into
If you really cannot see yourself living with someone else that is okay too!
Decide on a budget
This is important. You do not want to move into a place that you actually cannot afford. My mindset is the cheaper the better, but according to Dave Ramsey housing should not take up more than 25% of your income.
Start looking early
Start looking as soon as you can, usually once you realize you want to move you can at least start looking at neighborhoods. If you live in a college town where leases are set in certain times of the year (usually August-July), then you really need to start looking ASAP because things will fill up. If you live in a bigger city, then you probably will have plenty of options all year round.
Walk around the neighborhood you want to live in
Get a feel for the area and keep an eye out for “for rent” signs. Usually apartments (or houses) will have a sign out front with information flyers. If you see something you like, then grab the flyer.
Check out these websites
I looked on both Zillow.com and Trulia.com. I had luck finding a place there. I know a couple of people that found great places through Craigslist.com too. (Be careful when looking on Craigslist or through Facebook groups though).
I would recommend looking through all of these site, hopefully at least one potential apartment will pop up.
Schedule a tour
An easy but necessary step: see the apartment in person. Call up the leasing agency and make an appointment or swing by an open house. Either way the agent will be more than happy to show you around.
Make sure you like what you see
Make sure that it has enough space for you and your things. Can you imagine yourself living there happily and safely? If yes, then you may have found your new place.
Do a nighttime “drive-by”
Any place could look great during the day, but make sure to drive around the neighborhood at night and make sure that you would feel safe coming home anytime of the day or night.
Double check that you can afford it.
There are a few things that are usually not included in rent, but you should make sure fit in your budget:
Electricity, water, gas and other utilities like garbage service.
Laundry: If there is no in unit laundry, think about how much money you will be spending at the laundromat.
Pet fee. If you have a pet, then you are going to need to factor this in.
Pest control. I absolutely hate bugs (if they are inside my home), so having a service come spray for bugs is a must.
Internet. This is a big one for me; I do a lot of side work on the internet after work. So having reliable access is crucial for me.
TV: It can be a large expense to have cable or other kinds of TV. I have actually never had cable, so if you are considering cutting yours I will be writing an article about that soon.
Furniture: The initial cost of furnishing a place can be high, make sure you can afford to put a comfortable amount of furniture into your new space.
Read the lease… carefully.
You need to do this. Even if it is not fun, this is an important step. If you aren’t well versed in the law, reach out to someone who is. They will be able to tell you if the lease is above board or if your potential management company is trying to pull a fast one.
The important thing is to make sure you are comfortable with what you are signing.
Sign and move in.
After reading over the lease, I would recommend thinking it over for about a day before you decide. If there is a competition for the apartment and you just know that it is the one for you, then go ahead and sign right away.
I hope this helps you in your quest to find the perfect apartment for you!