7 Tips for Mastering the Apartment Hunt
Y’all, I’m officially heading to corporate America, where the sun does shine, but you can’t see it from your cubicle. I’ll be moving to Houston in two weeks to start my new job (and life lolz) and I needed to find an apartment. FAST.
This was the process I used to find the best “bang for my buck” when it came to moving to an area I knew nothing about.
1. Show me what ya workin’ wit.
Otherwise known as “make your budget.” I had no idea what rent would be running like in the area where I’m moving. I had to figure out what kind of rent I could afford while still having money left over to live and to save (for plane ticketz). If you have no budget going in, you’re going to be disappointed or end up spending all of your income on rent, and nobody wants that.
2. Search like Sherlock.
No really. I used Apartments.com, which compiles a list of units that are currently available in your search area. You can also search specifically around where you work based on how long of a commute you want. It’s everything you need to get reliable, startup research in one place. But be wary! Apartments don’t ever look as bright and shiny as they do in their pictures online. You have to see them in person!
3. Know your preferences and expect them to change (!!!).
My preferences with my search were pretty specific. I knew I didn’t want any roommates. I knew that the kitchen was a priority (small kitchen = Kendall feels claustrophobic = Kendall doesn’t cook), and I knew that I didn’t want to live in an older complex. There’s something about the idea of living in a place that has hosted 15 other bodies in it over the years that can gross a girl out (a.k.a. me). Call me crazy. I’m also not made for commuting, so I wanted to live close to work. I don’t have the patience for traffic and I like the extra sleep. I recommend that you don't begin your apartment search until you have your preferences on amenities in mind.
4. It takes two days, minimum.
I did my research and had six complexes picked out that I wanted to see during my first trip to H-Town. After that, I went home and thought more about what my priorities were in a complex. After I got my job offer, I decided I could afford to move up from the 565 square foot (!!!!!!!!!) floor plan. Two weeks later, I visited my final two complexes again, having already weighed the pros and cons of each before I got there. Leasing agents can make any blemish look like blush. Don’t fall for it.
Also, this is a good time to mention that you should try to visit the complex during the first part of the week when the leasing office is less busy. The downside is that everyone else who lives there is at work, so you won’t be able to get a feel for who your neighbors will be. Come back for a second visit on a weekend (make an appointment!) so you can see who is living there and what the traffic is like around the complex.
5. Put prices in perspective.
Like I said earlier, my goal is to save money so I can travel. A lot of these complexes have several units with various upgrades and floor plans that don’t seem like a big deal financially. I was torn between two floor plan sizes of about a $100 difference. The amount of space I was getting seemed like it was worth that extra money per month until I converted it to plane tickets. Not joking, I actually did/do this IRL.
That extra $100 multiplied by 12 months came out to $1,200 a year. Is that extra space worth one flight to London or four flights to Nashville? The answer for me is always no.
6. Listen to your gut.
One of my final two complexes was in an area right across the street from this super cool indie shopping center. I could walk my dog there on Saturday morning and eat crepes on a patio. Heart. Their amenities were amazing and it was a brand new complex, and they also had a dog park. I would've said “sign me up!” had I not gone in on a Saturday and seen who was hanging around on the weekends.
As soon as I walked over to the pool area, lo and behold, two 40-year-old men (one with leather-like skin, I kid you not!!!) were tanning by the pool. They made me uncomfortable, as it was obvious they were out of place. I felt like I had 50 beta fish fighting in my stomach, and I knew this complex wouldn’t be right for me. You have to keep your safety and comfort in mind before you consider those 15 (unnecessary) flat screen televisions in the clubhouse that you’re never going to use.
7. Bring in backup.
My mother knows me pretty well, and she is the master at haggling. I knew that she could help me think of things to ask and would bring a wiser perspective to my apartment search. Because once you sign the papers, you're stuck for a year if you don't like where you're at. Plus who else can laugh with you during your existential crisis of “holy $%&* I’m moving to corporate America?!?!”
So whether you’re relocating to start a new job or simply moving to a different apartment in your current city, this trusty guide can help the Millennial mind find their perfect apartment.