Regardless of where you fall on the apartment hunting spectrum, it's important you're organized in your search.
Why get organized?
Keeping your apartment search organized saves you time – something precious to everyone. In general, when on the apartment hunt, you want to avoid seeing too many places, especially those that don't suit your needs. To help narrow things down, think about making a list of essential criteria you'd like to have in your next home.
Start with budget and move-in dates since those two items are usually firm. Apartment size and other parameters should also be thought through in advance, just so you actually know what you're looking for to rent.
Start your search online
Many people begin their apartment search online, which is sometimes just as overwhelming as physically looking at places. Even entering in search criteria based on your pre-determined preferences can generate a long list of results to browse through.
In order to keep track of the appealing units you find online and you'd most likely want to see, create an apartment hunting spreadsheet. Here are some suggestions of what you can include on your spreadsheet:
- Apartment address
- Monthly rent
- Date available to move in
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Location (neighborhood, town, etc.)
- Floor it's located on
- Contact information of realtors and property managers
- Original URL where you found listing (just in case)
You can note other relevant details on your list at this point, too. Some points to consider and make note of are the distance to school or work (or both), the length of the commute, the overall square footage, what utilities – if any – are covered in rent, the internet situation and pet requirements and fees.
Think of this process as the first tier in your apartment hunt, your pre-search.
Visit your top finds
Schedule a visit to those apartments that make the cut from your online search, but remember not to overdo it. Expand your apartment hunting spreadsheet at this stage to prepare for your visits.
Add some additional columns to track more detail about each place. This will help in your final decision-making process for selecting your next apartment.
This section on your spreadsheet can be a single column or feature one line for each important feature of the unit. Think about where the laundry is (in unit, hookups only, building laundry room, off-site), whether there's a workout room, pool, central air or heating, and the state of the kitchen appliances.
Are there a lot of spaces, limited spaces or only street parking? Would you be able to have friends easily find a place to park when they come to visit? Is the apartment near public transportation?
This could require some outside research, but note information about crime rate (high/moderate/low), school ratings and neighborhood composition (family-friendly, working professionals, couples, singles, etc.).
Track your impressions of landlords for each apartment you're considering. Make sure they're someone you can get along with, especially if there were to be an issue.
Looking for your next apartment can be a stressful task. Calm things down a little by staying organized during your apartment search. Collect your impressions, thoughts and all the apartment details important to you in one place with the help of a spreadsheet.