There are so many things to consider when choosing an apartment. Even if you enlist the help of a realtor, you have to make sure you're getting what you want and not what they're trying to get rid of.
As an all-too-well seasoned apartment hunter, read on for the top factors that I consider in my hunt!
Location, location, location! It's going to vary in importance to people with different values and there are often tradeoffs - with location, common tradeoffs are proximity to interesting things vs. cost and trendy neighborhoods vs. noise.
For me, being close to my work and preferably also to my friends and other things of interest (grocery stores, parks, a gym) matter to me more than the size of the apartment, so I'm willing to go with a smaller space and/or less amenities in exchange for an easier commute. For many others, especially those with families, living further from everything is worth having extra space to stretch out in and a nicer home!
There is no right or wrong answer here, it's about what matters to you.
While sometimes you can get a really great deal on a nice place and get a nicer place for a lower price than a place you like less, often the nicer and better located and outfitted a place is, the more it is going to cost. Of course living in a closet with rats and a dumpster view isn't nice, but there is also no reason to rent the ritzy penthouse and run up credit card debt or live on rice and beans.
Consider how much time you will spend at your apartment, what your financial goals are, and whether sacrificing a bit now will bring you closer to what you want in the long run. Then figure out your rent sweet spot!
Are the windows drafty? Factor high heating costs in to your budget.
Is the apartment old? Factor in repair costs, unless you're sure that your landlord will cover repairs.
Is the place in need of renovation? Factor that in.
Is it missing anything major, like a fridge or an oven? If you plan on cooking at home, add that cost to your total.
Is a parking spot not included, but you have a car? Again, there's another cost.
Make sure you have all of the costs in front of you, including water and other utilities, when you're considering whether the rent works for you!
The first major decision here is whether or not you want them.
...okay, so maybe you'd rather have your own place. But how much more do you want your own space right now? Roommates make living cheaper, especially in big, expensive cities, so if you can tolerate roommates and you're trying to live on a budget, consider sharing a home for a few more years.
If you have decided on your roommates, consider how many roommates you'd like and how many you'd put up with. Think about what sorts of roommates you want and what your deal breakers are. Gender? Age? Marital status? Live-in boyfriend/girlfriend status? Cleanliness? Noise level? Lifestyle? Smoking? Drinking? Time spent in the apartment? Friends or rather just friendly? Do they do their dishes?
Bad roommate situations can make the most wonderful apartment a terrible living experience, so give it some thought!
Especially for people who battle depression and seasonal depression (but really for anyone, in my opinion) having nice big windows that keep the apartment bright and happy is so important! Also think about window location and view. Having a good view can be such a nice thing to come home to and wake up to.
Do you cook a lot and/or are you a foodblogger? Maybe give apartments a few bonus points for having a kitchen window or two.
There are many things to consider when you're starting your apartment hunt, but don't worry - as long as you keep these things in mind, you're already well prepared to make a good decision! Some good sites to check out for your search include Craigslist, StreetEasy, and Trulia.
What are your most important apartment considerations
How did you find your current apartment?