Whether you’re finally moving out on your own or moving to your fifth place in five years, getting the keys to a new apartment is always exciting.
But you can’t just pack a few boxes and move in.
There’s some work to do first — including apartment hunting.
And when you’re apartment hunting, you have to be level-headed and make sure you find the one that’s right for you.
On the hunt for your next place to live?
Here are the 5 questions to ask before deciding on the location of your next apartment.
1. Can I Afford It?
When it comes time to rent a new place, the most important thing to consider is whether or not you can afford it.
It’s easy to fall in love with a spacious new unit or a certain neighborhood that’s close to where you work. But loving a place and being able to afford it are two very different things.
You can’t answer this question until you’ve taken all sorts of things into account:
- Add up the cost of the rent and utilities.
- Research the cost of living in that neighborhood or city.
- Think about how much you’ll have to spend on transportation getting to and from work or school.
Before you sign a lease, be sure that you can cover your monthly bills and still have money to contribute to your savings and socialize with friends.
It’s also important to ask the landlord if the rent can or will go up. Know the rules about rent increases if you decide to renew your lease. In addition, ask if there are any penalties or fees for moving out early.
2. Is the Neighborhood Safe?
It’s perfectly fine to ask your potential landlord if the neighborhood and/or complex is safe.
But this is one question that you’re better off finding the answer to yourself. And with a quick Google search, it’s easy to do.
Research the crime stats for the neighborhood and be mindful of the different types of crimes that occur. No one wants to live in a rough neighborhood known for violent attacks — but those aren’t the only crimes to consider. Sometimes even the best neighborhoods are prone to non-violent crimes, such as car break-ins and petty theft.
Check out City-Data.com to see crime stats in your neighborhood or zip code. The site Criminal Watchdog.com will inform you specifically of sex offenders that live nearby. Visit both of these (or similar) sites before you sign your lease!
The safety of the building itself is just as important.
Ask your landlord if there are any security features in the apartment. Is there a security system? A doorman? Locking gates? Motion detectors? Motion lights?
If the building has any of these features, your landlord will be happy to point them out.
3. Is There Accessible Parking?
It’s important to have a safe and convenient place to park your car — especially if you travel alone or tend to come home late at night.
Ask your landlord if you will have access to an attached parking lot or have your own assigned parking space. If not, you’ll have to find street parking — and that’s not always easy to come by.
Don’t have a car?
If your preferred method of transportation is public buses, subways, or rail systems, make sure that they’ll be easy to access. Without a car, you’ll probably want to be within walking distance of train stations and bus routes.
4. Is it Pet-Friendly?
If your family consists of a furry friend or two, make sure the apartment welcomes them with open arms.
Some apartments tolerate dogs, while others have top-of-the-line puppy amenities, such as dog parks and doggie spas. For dog owners, this can be a huge factor in deciding on a place to live.
At the very least, make sure you’ll have access to several outdoor spaces where pets can run and play safely.
This isn’t just a question for pet owners to ask — this question is just as important if you don’t like animals. If you don’t like dogs, listening to them bark all day might drive you nuts.
And if you have actual kids, as opposed to furry children, there are even more questions you’ll need to inquire about. How is the school system? Are there parks and playgrounds nearby?
The inside of the place may be exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s just as important that your family have safe outdoor spaces to enjoy as well.
5. Will This Apartment Improve My Quality of Life?
Don’t move into a new apartment if you won’t have access to the things you love.
Maybe you love wide open spaces and parks. Maybe you prefer a walkable city and neighborhood like Chicago’s Lincoln Park where you can stroll to the local coffee shop or walk to meet friends for lunch. Or perhaps you’re looking for a bit more luxury, such as a state-of-the-art gym or a fabulous rooftop pool
Knowing what the apartment includes can make your decision to move in an easy one.
Think about your lifestyle and the type of things you enjoy. Your new place should encourage you to pursue the hobbies and interests you care about the most.
And don’t forget to consider the distance of the apartment to your office or school. If moving adds an extra hour to your commute, it might not be worth it.
Before you spend time researching the neighborhood and asking a ton of questions, make sure the apartment is one that you can afford. If the answer is yes, it’s time to start finding the answers to those other oh-so-important questions.
Is it safe? Are there security features? Is it well lit? Will you feel at ease when you’re walking at night?
Is there accessible parking? Will you have your own space or, at the very minimum, a private lot?
Will the apartment allow pets? Are pets allowed, or are they actually encouraged?
And, last but not least, will this apartment improve your quality of life? Does it offer amenities that you’ll actually use? Is it in close proximity to where you work?
If the answers to all of these questions are “yes”, congratulations — you just found your dream apartment!
So have fun packing, unpacking, decorating, and getting settled. It’s time to make your move!
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over 10 years of experience in the conventional housing industry and works with Alexan on 20th Street Station on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.