This question has brought back many memories and churned up many thoughts. Let me get started.
If you are looking for your first apartment there are many things you need to consider, such as:
These are not necessarily in the best order of importance, but they are pretty close.
How much can you afford to pay for an apartment each month? Understand that most apartment complexes want a first and last month's rent or first month's rent and a security deposit (usually the same amount as the rent).
You need to figure out your budget with regard to your expenses without your apartment and subtract that from your monthly income. Then you have the amount you could possibly pay in rent a month. Don't forget to take into account luxuries like cable, fast internet, land line (if you have no cell), eating out once or twice (when you forget to pack a lunch for work or for a special occasion). These are on top of electricity, water, groceries, gas, insurance (car and renter's), etc.
Location: You save yourself money if your commute to work, school, and stores is short. Even more so if you can get to a bus stop easily and take the bus to these locations. If the apartment is far on the outside of town it may be priced cheaper than other apartments, but you may eat up that saving on transportation.
Size: How big of a place do you need? Are you going to get a place on your own or are you going to have a room mate? A roomy can help with expenses until the roomy can't pay their part or moves out. That is the danger of a roomy. Can you survive in an efficiency? Basically an apartment with a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room that doubles as the bedroom. It may have big closets if you're lucky or even a small bedroom or bonus, a small dining room. The bathroom may also only be a bath with a shower (no tub). Just some things to consider.
Convenience: Part of this is described in "location" above. Other conveniences include access to washer and dryer (either in the apartment or in the complex). Some places have nothing and you are referred to the local laundromat. Dishwasher? Air conditioner? Trash compactor? Or bigger question, trash disposal, period. Maybe you have to carry your trash out to a dumpster at the end of the parking lot or even to another apartment complex for a centralized dumpster for many apartment buildings.
Neighborhood can be a big factor. If you don't feel safe you are probably not. If the place is in an area that is pretty much run down, then the apartment complex is probably close to being treated the same way. Or if the area is bad off, but it really is a good complex, you may be a target for theft.
Neighbors: Stop by the apartment at different hours before you rent it or sign a deal and just sit in the parking lot. Listen to the neighborhood and particularly those who would be your neighbors. Are they loud? Do they have children (young or teen)? Do they look responsible? If you have the opportunity knock on some doors and ask the neighbors what they think of the place, the neighborhood, the landlord. Ask them how much utilities run. This is a question you should ask the landlord too and keep track of what they said. Utilities will always be different for different people, but this gives you an idea and a figure to compare to what the neighbors say.
Pets: Obviously if you have a pet, you need to make sure it is allowed. You may have to pay extra security for a pet to be in your apartment (which is pretty standard).
Landlord: Do they show up at the appointed time to show you the apartment? How do they present themselves? Ask who is responsible for maintenance, them or you? How easily was it to initially contact them to see the apartment? Do they have an office or maybe live on the premises? Do they have many places or just the one? If you don't like the apartment they show you, ask them if they might have another. Tell them what you don't like about this apartment or what the apartment is missing that you are really looking forward to having. They may have another place that is empty or will be empty soon they can offer you.
Furnished or not? If you have your own furniture or are really looking forward to spending lots of money to have "just the right" furnishings then you don't want an apartment that is furnished. If you have nothing then a furnished apartment may be just what you need (and maybe should look for).
When looking for your first apartment, sometime you have to make sacrifices in order to meet your budget. My first apartment was an attic apartment that I shared with my best friend, in a house that the guy rented "by the room". We had a shared bathroom and kitchen being used by 4 other occupants. And a shared living room which just about none of us ever used. But for a first apartment, it turned out to be great for a teenager out on his own for the first time.
So, keep your options open.
By Suntydt from Tazewell, TN
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