5 Tips for Finding your Ultimate Apartment Oasis
I’m finally settling into my new apartment! It’s just about everything I could have wanted in a place and I can’t wait to share more of it. I promise an apartment tour is coming once I’m fully settled and ready to film it all! In the meantime, I wanted to share a few tips for those who are looking for your first place or even for those of you who might be looking for a new place sometime soon. No one can truly prepare you for the experience of searching, touring and finally deciding on a new place, there are certainly some things I wish I new going into it. I made this post as a way to help others, and also help my future self if I ever need something to refer back to. Enjoy!
Budget. The number one thing anyone will tell you is to make sure you’re budgeting hard when getting into an apartment. No one really ever tells you how to budget, it’s just something you’re supposed to figure out I guess—that’s for another post. When looking into getting a place you should aim to follow the 50/30/20 rule. This rule is set into place to help you manage your regular income: 50% is on necessities (rent, utilities, food) 30% on your ‘wants’ (going out, trips, fun money) and 20% goes into your savings. If you’re a contractor like me, and your income isn’t as exact every month, another good way to measure what you can afford is to split your average monthly income into 3rds. If the rent is higher than 1/3 of your monthly income, it might be best to look elsewhere.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Renting a place is a huge deal. You’re picking the one place you’re going to live for at least the next 12-18 months, if not the next few years. ASK QUESTIONS. Ask about move-in protocols, will they reserve the elevator? Who can you call if there are any issues on move-in day, or if they forget? (My place forgot, thankfully I have maintenance living on-site!) Do you have pets? Better ask about pet rent or pet deposit. Is there a strict guest policy? What if you have visitors from out of town? Want to hang pictures? See if there’s a policy around renovations. All super valuable questions that deserve answers, so be sure to ask them before you move in!
Make a list, check it twice. What are your non-negotiables when searching for a place? Maybe you need A/C or a certain amount of square footage. When looking for my apartment I tried not to get too picky, but I knew I wanted a place that was secure (key fob) with no carpet, white walls and good light. My secondaries were A/C and in-unit laundry, but I lucked out and got them all! It’s important to write these down so you remember to check them off when touring places. Pro Tip: While you’re at it, make a list of the places that you like and which non-negotiables are being met each at those places. You might save yourself another trip or phone call!
Avoid moving during high-season. Not a lot of people mention this, but you may notice that apartment rates are considerably higher and lower in different parts of the year. In most places that’s the winter months, but in hotter places it could be the middle of August. If you’re not in a rush to find a new spot, do some research and find out when high and low season starts and ends in your location. Slower seasons mean better deals, and they can also mean less competition and less pressure when narrowing down a place which might also save you some peace of mind during the decision process.
Look to the light. If you live in a place like Arizona, bright natural lighting might just mean more heat. For someone like me in Portland, a place with good natural light is a must. When looking for my place I stopped by to look at the unit at different times during the day. Stop by to check it out at 10am and, if you can, check it out at 5 or 6pm on another day. See what a sunny day vs a cloudy day is like. It’ll also give you a chance to scope out the potential noise level when your future neighbors are at work vs when they come home!
So maybe you find ‘the one’ or, at least something that feels like the one. Here are some things to check when you tour your top contenders:
Check cellphone reception
Bring a charger and test the outlets
Measure everything, I mean it. EVERYTHING
Read the building reviews (Google & Yelp)
Website’s that really help:
Apartment List: THE. BEST. EVER. Allows you to literally put in all of the specifications of your dream spot (location, sq. footage, budget, amenities) and sends you email updates on price changes and newly available units fitting your criteria! If you’re not in a total rush, this site is a must-use.
Padmapper: For some reason I kept referring to this site as ‘Apartment Frog’ in my head, the little frog mascot is adorable but it’s truly a great tool for narrowing down units in one specific area!
Apartments.com: A classic. We stan!
That’s it for this post! For more apartment updates and the official apartment tour, keep up to date with me via Instagram! I hope this helped calm any nerves you might have about starting your search! It is not a small task and I applaud you for beginning the journey. Sending you all of the good palace hunting vibes, if this was helpful let me know in the comments below!