Apartment hunting can be an immensely rewarding experience if you approach it the right way. While there are certainly plenty of challenges that all aspiring renters must face, the possibility of ending up with the place of your dreams is worth overcoming them. To that end, here are five things you should look for on your next apartment hunt:
1. A pest-free environment
No one likes having to live with cockroaches, rats or other unpleasant critters, but some places have a long history of dealing with such pests and, as a result, are much more likely to suffer the occasional relapse. Check for any red/brown stains in room corners, as these can be indicative of bed bug infestations. Additionally, make sure you inquire about every apartment’s history in this regard, and generally try to stay away from places where bugs have been a recurring problem.
2. Fully-functional utilities
An apartment’s utilities are by far its most commonly used features. Everything from the lighting system to the plumbing system will be subjected to heavy use day in and day out, so it makes sense to test everything thoroughly before signing that dotted line. Among other things, you’ll need to ensure that the water heats up in a timely fashion, and that all the apartment’s wall sockets are functional, without any signs of buzzing or flickering lights.
3. Your favorite features
Every renter has certain features that they cannot do without. Things like having an AC unit in every room or a particularly large bathtub so you can bathe together with your spouse may seem like luxuries for some, but they can dramatically improve your quality of life down the road. Make a list of all your must-have features and send it to your real estate agent so he can narrow down your list of options and hopefully help you make a better choice.
4. Good neighbors
No matter how awesome your apartment is, bad neighbors can sour the deal in a hurry. Don’t be afraid to ask your landlord specific questions about your future neighbors and then proceed to pay them a visit before you make your final decision. Alternatively, you could also opt for an organized residential complex. These usually boast strict admission criteria, and have policies in place to evict disruptive tenants. The Spring Gardens Apartments in Portland, Oregon are a good example of a residential complex where you can rest assured that your neighbors won’t cause you any trouble.
5. Clear lease terms
While no one will ever confuse renting with home ownership, there are different degrees to which landlords are willing to let their renters make modifications to their property. This is just one of the reasons why both parties should agree on clear lease terms from the very beginning. Needless to say, make sure you have everything down in writing, since verbal agreements rarely hold up when the going gets tough.
As you can see, there are several important things you need to be on the lookout for when it comes to renting an apartment. But it’s worth taking the time to thoroughly examine all your options in order to pick the one that’s best suited to your own needs and expectations. So arm yourself with patience and don’t give up until you’ve found the perfect place.
Michael Sanduso lives in Toronto, Canada. He is a freelance writer and editor, tech geek, and stay at home father.