What to look for in an Apartment Home
Having a house or even living in one is not for everyone. Some people live on a tighter budget, others have no other option. Some people prefer apartment living because of community, the closeness, the security and other options that they don’t get living in a home. Apartment living often comes with extras that you would have to pay more for if you lived in a home, and would often put you over your budget.
Every apartment is different, and after having lived in many different ones over the years you learn to look for certain things before and after you move in. Certain things about an apartment might turn you off from wanting to live there. Others might entice you to want to move in right away. While it is not entirely deceptive for apartments and houses to say things, or advertise things that are not completely true, how they word them can be a marketing ploy to drive in business. And those marketing ploys can be very deceptive. The apartment advertisement might say air conditioning, yet the air conditioner could be a window unit in the living room only. Here are some things to look for while you are interviewing for apartments:
If you have more than one car the biggest concern is going to be the amount of parking that is available. The more parking there is, the least amount of problems there will be. Some places have assigned parking, others might have parking stickers or flags to place in your car so they know you are a resident. If you are lucky than there are even places that have a garage to park in, which provides you an extra level of security.
When sitting down and telling the manager what you are looking for in an apartment (one bedroom, two bedrooms, bottom floor, top floor, etc.…) your first question should be how is the parking. Often, they will tell you what their procedures are, but beware when they say that parking is open. People will take advantage of this, and it could mean things get hectic during the holidays. With guests hogging up all the spots it could be hard to find a spot yourself. Also you don’t want to take the managers word for it, but rather drive around the complex after you are done looking at the unit. If you can count more than 30 open spots on a Sunday afternoon, chances are parking is good. Another thing you can do is drive by on a Monday-Thursday night and see what it looks like. People must go to work the next day typically and this will give you a realistic idea of what the parking is like. (Friday and Saturday people often go out or have guest over so it could throw off your idea of what the parking looks like.)
Size and Space
Looking at a paper map in the office when talking about the apartment will give you a basic idea of what you are looking at, but nothing will say it better than
looking at it in person. Be sure to ask if they have a model to look at, and go see it. Everything might look great on paper, and the overall size might seem perfect, but as said before it could be deceptive. Recently my wife and I looked at 5 different places to see what was in our area, as we are looking to move at the end of the year. One of the places we saw had a place similar in price to the others yet the size appeared to be almost 100 square feet larger. That extra space was actually a longer hallway and bigger bathroom space, while sacrificing living room and dining room space.
When you get to see the model that is available you can see where windows are, counters, cupboard space, appliances that are included and the size of closets and rooms. It will give you an idea of how to plan your move and where you can put everything when you move in. It will tell you wall sockets, cable access and lighting. You can get a feel for everything when you see it in person rather than trying to picture it in your head.
Apartments will often advertise the extras that are included in the place and these are referred to as the amenities. Each place is different, but the biggest ploy to get new tenants is to offer things such as a pool, gym, and business center. If you never plan on using them, it tends to be a waste. (My wife and I visited a place that was $200 more than everywhere else and it was because they had a full sauna in the men’s and ladies room of their gym.) Another thing these places will add is a recreation room that includes places to sit, a kitchen and a T.V. These can be rented out for hours or a day, and have their own rates. These places are usually in the center of the complex or in the front near the manager’s office.
Other amenities are what happens to be included in the apartment itself. While every place must have a sink and stove in the kitchen, a toilet and sink in the bathroom, and hot running water, that is all that is required. Some complexes will add things such as duel sinks in the bathrooms, larger tubs, dishwashers, microwaves and even their own appliances.
Proximity to Your Neighbors
There is being close to your neighbors and then there is being too close to your neighbors. If you open your door and see your neighbor’s door across from you, such as within two steps, it could be too close for comfort. This means you are likely to hear them fight, slam their doors and have conversations or parties right in front of your door. The same goes for apartments that have multiple floors. If they have wooden or tile floors above you, you can hear every footstep they take.
Most of the time your neighbors are going to be close enough to hear through the walls, at least a little bit, but not all of them. Most units are built so the doors don’t face each other, eliminating that uncomfortable feeling.
Security and Maintenance
Your safety and that of your family should be a concern. Graffiti anywhere in the complex is not a good sign that it is secure or safe. Gates that are kept locked or require a keycard to get into the complex are. If you go to the manager’s office and find that it is only open Monday through Friday, chances are there is little to no security. And it means that weekends people tend to not follow the rules. If you see this when you go to interview about the apartment, be sure and ask if there are security patrols and how often they occur. (Just because the office is not open on the weekends doesn’t necessarily mean there is no manager available. Some of them live within the complex and will charge a fee for the weekend service.)
On-site maintenance is always the best, but how often does that occur. Some places have a maintenance man that works five days a week. Others have someone that lives within the complex and is on call 24 hours a day. Another question to ask is about maintenance and who you would call if something breaks or if there is an emergency.
There are always fees to look for and they start with the application fee to live there. There is always an application to fill out, as they want to have the best
residents available. This will include a reference check and a credit check. If everything is approved you will need a security deposit and your first month’s rent. It could also mean pet deposit and last month’s rent too.
Some charge fees to use the equipment or the amenities within the complex. There could be lockout fees if you get locked out, or pay to use washer and dryer units on site too. Be sure you know what all those fees are, how often they need to be paid, and whether those rates go up.
Other Things to Look For
Trash and litter in the complex might be something that concerns you. How often the trash Is picked up, and while driving through the complex to look at parking, you can view the trashcans and recycling as well.
Before you move in, and even before you sign the lease you might want to inspect the unit. Be sure and look at everything, noting any cracks, or damage before you sign any paperwork. All of these things could be held against you when it comes time to get your deposit back. Be sure all faucets work, all sockets work, and know what they all go to.
Know the rules of the place you are looking at before you move in. You can ask for this right before you are signing the lease, even though you are going to be given a copy anyway. Some things may not be allowed and you want to know about them ahead of time.