Location, Location, Location. Before you sign your lease, take a walk through the neighborhood, or ask a barista at the local coffee shop what type of neighborhood you are moving into. Is it a family neighborhood or a young and trendy neighborhood? If you have to be up early for work during the week, then you might not want to live where majority of the people are college students.
What is the parking situation? While larger apartment complexes usually offer parking, many urban neighborhoods have limited parking spots. With that, you can plan to be on a waiting list and pay a high monthly fee. The other option is street parking, which is one of the drawbacks of urban living because of street sweeping days, tickets or having to walk a couple blocks home. One way to check if parking will be a problem is to drive by the apartment in the evening and see if you have difficulties finding a spot.
Does the management do background checks on the tenants? This is something to seriously consider because not all apartment management checks out the criminal history of their tenants. For your own safety ask about background checks -- you may never meet your neighbors but at least you will know there are not any criminals living next door. You need to feel safe in your own home, otherwise why would you live there?
Does the building have onsite maintenance? If the apartment you are looking at does not have property maintenance that you can reach within 24 hours, walk through the building (and property) to determine the upkeep -- if the building is not well maintained, it is likely the management will be slow to respond. This is something to consider if your apartment floods or the heat goes off. How long are you willing to wait for someone to come by?
The lease terms. If you decide to move into a building that is running a special or promotion, make sure to check what the rent will be once your lease runs out. Some apartments will run a move-in special and once your lease is up the rent can increase drastically and you might be left looking for a new place.
Is the building new or old? A new building might not have as much charm as an older one but it will make up for that in amenities. Older buildings tend to have thinner windowpanes, fewer appliances and often have no air conditioning. Newer buildings, especially loft style apartments, can be somewhat loud (because of cost cutting on materials), so checking out the apartment when most tenants are home will give you a clue about the noise traffic.
What floor is the apartment? If you are planning to live alone, living on the second
floor or higher is suggested since most break-ins occur on the ground level. One problem with this is that the higher the floor level, the more expensive the rent. If you do decide on a
ground-floor apartment make sure to check the windows, locks and apartment grounds. If it seems unsafe trust your instincts and keep looking!
Do they accept pets? Even if you do not own a pet, living in an animal-friendly building can be loud! If you are looking for a quiet place to call home, a bark friendly building might not be for you. However, if you love the apartment, schedule a walk-through during the day when most people are at work and animals are the loneliest.
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