The search for a new apartment can be overwhelming. Houzz.com helps you find the perfect space with their apartment hunting tips.
Narrow your search to one or two favorite neighborhoods so you reduce the number of communities you look at. Think about things like cute stores and nightlife but don't forget requirements like your budget and proximity to work or public transportation. If you're new to the city, walk around different neighborhoods to get a feel for them.
Decide on the three things that you absolutely cannot live without. Budget needs to be one of your top three, of course, but the other two could be anything from how close they are to work or to school to apartment amenities like a pool. If you aren't sure what your must-haves are, try making a list of all your desires and marking things off until you've narrowed it down to the top needs.
Take notes on the apartments you visit and even take pictures so you can refresh your memory. Also, before you begin apartment hunting, make sure you're prepared to fill out an application and pay a deposit so if you find the perfect place it doesn't get snatched up. You might even consider printing out your credit report to show the landlord you are a great renter.
Ask the landlord what your extra costs beyond rent will be. Do the window treatments come with the apartment? What utilities are you responsible for? Are there extra charges to use complex amenities or for parking? Are cable hook-ups already in place where they will work for you, or will you need to pay to have a new cable put in?
Pay attention to smells and noises when you tour an apartment. Also pay attention to what kind of light the apartment gets. A dark, smelly apartment could certainly make life pretty unpleasant.
Go ahead and play detective: open closets, turn on the water in the shower and bathroom and kitchen faucets, and flush the toilet. Investigate under the sinks to make sure there isn't mold, leaks or bugs, and if there are, talk to the potential landlord about their plans to fix any problems.
If you think you are going to stay for a while, try to negotiate with the landlord. They probably won't give you a break on rent, but they may give you a longer lease so you can pay the same rent for longer, make improvements before you move in, or allow you to paint and make your own improvements.
Come armed with the measurements of any really large or important furniture you own. Bring a tape measure when you check out an apartment and get the dimensions of doorways to make sure your pieces will fit in the space. If they won't, and it's something you don't want to part with, it's best to find it out before moving day.
Finally, get EVERYTHING in writing. Anything you and the landlord agree on should be written down and signed by both parties.