How to find a new apartment
That chocolate sofa and loveseat are going to look absolutely fabulous in your new living room, especially with the splashes of gold and orange you've decided on. Despite the sarcastic remarks of your best friend, certainly hanging the painting of the dogs playing poker in the entry way is—well—cool. You are gearing up for your new place with a creative vengeance that is unrivaled —but wait—there are some things you have to consider as you find a new apartment. Just for a moment, put aside the furniture and housewares shopping, and let's get you into an apartment that will fit your needs.
Apartment hunting is much the same as house hunting. There are key factors to consider: distance to work and schools, whether the community is for families with lots of kids, convenience to ample shopping, emergency personnel, and hospitals, and of course, price and budget. When renting an apartment, your budget should not only include rent but the cost of maintaining the apartment. Apartment-finding Web sites suggest some key things to do and find out as you search for a new apartment. Those things include:
Check out the land
Give some serious thought to the community you want to live in. You want to be sure you feel safe. You want to be sure it is near the shopping and entertainment features that contribute to your lifestyle. You may want to give second thought to a community that is gorgeous but is an hour's drive to and from work.
Search and search
The first place you will see is typically the most exciting; it does not mean it's the right one. The rule of thumb—look at five to seven apartments in the area or community that interests you before you make a decision. In your apartment quest, visit at different times of the day—the peaceful surroundings at ten in the morning may not exist when you visit at ten that evening, and there is so much noise you feel it pounding in every inch of your body.
Be an inspector
You are going to be living in this apartment, so inspect it as though you were a crime scene investigator. Look in attics, look in every closet and cranny, look for unusual odors (which could indicate mold even if you don't see it), look for unusual spots or discolorations (they could indicate water leakage, mold, or other problem areas). Other things to look for: patch painting (why is one little area painted as opposed to the whole wall—what's beneath the camouflage?); patch carpeting (again, what is being hid?), mix and match flooring (is this the kind of landlord that does not replace but just goes with whatever is on hand?).
Be an interrogator
This is going to be your new place. Make a list of questions, and be sure all of your questions are answered in a satisfactory manner. What is the rent payment? What type of maintenance is included in the lease? Is there 24-hour security? Does the building have on-call maintenance? Are you responsible for utilities? Are there designated resident and guest parking areas?
Examine the lease
The lease is a binding legal document. Although some landlords and apartment rental companies frown on this practice, ask for a copy of the lease in advance. Explain that you would like the opportunity to thoroughly examine it and if necessary have someone look over it on your behalf. Even if friends referred you, don't think their lease will be the same as yours—often renewal leases are different.
Apartment rental insurance should not be overlooked. Landlords will typically only insure the building structure and common places in a complex. Renters' insurance is not that expensive and will cover your personal belongings in the event of fire, theft, or flood. Be sure to ask about renters' insurance as you visit prospective new homes.
When you find a new apartment, your new apartment should be the wonderful oasis you envision it to be every time you visit yet another furniture store. Make it just that by taking care of the business and legal side with your eyes wide open, and you should have relatively few problems. Once you're all moved in, a great way to get some of those extra little things that you can never really budget for is to throw a "new apartment party" and simply ask that guests bring gifts that reflect what you need. Oh, and by the way, the dogs playing poker painting, really looks better over the sofa.