Apartment hunting, much like job hunting, is like dating. I guess that’s because dating is just romantic partner hunting. Even before I got into a committed relationship with someone I NEVER was afraid of dating. This is hard. I’m actually staying awake and spending so much time thinking about what furniture is going where and how I’m going to afford grocery shopping. How many rolls of toilet paper do I need? How many sets of of flatware will be needed? Yeah there are going to be two people living there but that means nothing when it comes to food.
All of that comes secondary to actually finding and applying to a place though. I thought it would be cool to document the process in case someone who is thinking about getting out and spreading their wings stumbles across this blog here. So, without further ado, here are some helpful tips from me to you, sexpot (that’s you).
Figure out your budget and stick to it. If you set your budget at $1300.00 a month, then do not even thinking about looking, glancing, dreaming about a place that it over that number. When you go to any search engine for apartments make sure you type that number into the “maximum price” section right away. There are a few reasons for this, the primary being that you want to avoid bargaining with yourself. At the start of this search this became my biggest struggle.
“Maybe if I don’t by that many groceries I could afford this place?”
“Do I really need a bed?”
“Who needs internet?” This was my low point.
Seriously, before you even go to Zillow, Hotpad, or Apartment Guide be sure to SET YOUR BUDGET. Or else you are going to have a harder time than need be.
Once your budget is set in the same stone that held Excalibur, you need to decide if you are going to try and lump utilities into it. For me, I set a budget and it included utilities. This was not something I was willing to budge on at first but seeing as how this was a “rarer” thing in the area i wanted to live in, I figured paying for one or two utilities would be doable depending on what they were and what the base rent would have been. That being said, currently I’m hoping to get approved for this one with all utilities included. Pray for me. Utilities are things that are totally necessary and you are required to pay. Water, electricity, cable, stuff like that. So, make sure you check online or ask someone during the viewing of the unit (if you decide to go that far).
Again, my recommendation it to always go for a place that has utilities included. Always.
Know what you want/need and what you will be flexible on. For example, I knew I wanted a two bedroom apartment from the get go. This is something that eventually turned into a semi-flexible want based on size of the apartment. If you are someone who knows they NEED two bedrooms, do not compromise. I was willing to be flexible about the size of the bathroom, size of the kitchen and size of the closets as long as I had two bedrooms of a decent size. My boyfriend, who will be moving in with me, literally had one solid want/need and that was for the place to have carpet. It was solid and something to work with so, it works out. Figure out the parking situation and laundry situation as well. If you are moving in with three people, make sure you can all get parking. If you don’t want to lug laundry down or up stairs, get a unit with a washer and dryer in it. Think about the smallest details.
When going about what can be flexible and what cannot, look at what you will be bringing with you, your lifestyle and who will be living there with you. If you are trying to get a place with four people it makes absolutely no sense to get a place with one bedroom. If you are chef, you are not going to want a small, cramped kitchen. Just saying, you have to know what you are working with.
Getting denied on your application is not the end of the world. If you get denied then they will most likely tell you why they denied you in the first place. Let it be a learning experience, not a bummer situation.
Apply carefully. In some states if you apply to a place then you must accept. So, don’t go around applying to multiple places. Yes, you run the risk of losing out on another place but, you must choose carefully. Also expect an application fee. Know the housing laws in your state because some people may try to rip you off.
This is cliche but necessary to say, save up. Ideally, you want to have three months rent saved up and available to show your property manager. Have character accounts from your employer(s) as well, this is a nice thing to have. A lot of time the property manager wants to know what they are getting into. The agreement (lease) you enter into is binding for both you and the property manager. If you turn out to be a complete ass, they can’t legally kick you out for it but, you will have a hell of a time getting any problems resolved and end up resenting everyone there. Living in an apartment or condo means that you will be part of a tight community. Be nice to your neighbors. That means all of your neighbors! The ones below you, above you and on either side of you.
I’m still in the process of finding a place so, with some luck we’ll get this place we applied to. If we don’t, no big deal. I will update this post in the event of learning anything else, which I’m sure I will. I hope this was helpful to anyone currently in the process as well.