How to Choose an Apartment

How to Choose an Apartment

August 16, 2013 | Apartment Hunting, Apartment Hunting Advice

By Kimberly Manning

When you’re on the hunt for a new apartment rental, you hope to stumble upon the perfect new home. Knowing how to choose an apartment when you’ve unexpectedly found yourself hopelessly in love with two apartments can make the decision a bit more challenging. You need to weigh out the pros and cons of each place and set realistic expectations in order to come to the best conclusion. Although living in an apartment is a temporary situation, you will have to live there for at least a year (usually). Here are some things to think about:

Which Can You Afford … Comfortably?

Obviously, price point plays a big factor in your apartment hunt. When I was looking for apartments, I came across two that I loved. One was about $100 more expensive than the other, so I had to weigh it out. If the more expensive pad is in a lively neighborhood, closer to work, near transportation and within steps of your friends, the extra cash might be worth it in the end. Even if this isn’t the case, think about how you will have to budget the rest of your money if you opt for the more expensive apartment. Is luxury or amenities worth the extra funds? Do you think you will struggle paycheck to paycheck when calculating bills and groceries into your monthly budget?

What Amenities Are You Looking For?

During my apartment search I needed (OK, just really wanted) an outdoor space. The more expensive apartment had an indoor porch, outdoor porch and backyard! Right there, I was sold. But the less expensive apartment had a small porch and an untamed backyard. So I had to think: I could either spend the extra money and have a great backyard, or save and do some dirty work to make the outdoor space entirely my own.

Learning how to choose an apartment with the best amenities requires you to think outside of the box a bit. Maybe one place doesn’t have air conditioning, but since it’s lower to the ground, it won’t get too steamy in the summer. Plus, you can save on your cooling bill. Create a pro list for each apartment: Does it have a dishwasher, washer and dryer, open-concept living space, modern appliances, etc.? Having all of the amenities listed in front of you may help you determine which ones are absolutely necessary.

Scope Out the ‘Hood

For some people, it’s all about the amenities, but for others its location, location, location. Consider your commute to work, distance from any friends or family members, liveliness of the neighborhood, bars and restaurants and other resources. Do you love working out, but there seems to be no gym in sight? Think about how long your travel to workout will be. Take a walk around the neighborhood if you’re not sure. While your apartment may be on a residential block, there might be a strip of cafes and dining options just two blocks away.

If you have a car, you might want to consider a neighborhood with a lot of parking–especially if there isn’t a spot included with rent.

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