Posted By Heather Rusick on 5/16/11 12:04 PM

checklist for an apartment search

An apartment search, urg! Whether you are looking for an apartment in Southern California or an apartment in Northern California, the options can be endless. Searching for an apartment can be a long and painful process, not to mention the countless hours you spend researching, just before you jump into your car and drive down to look at the properties. It’s kind of like buying a car, where do you start and how do you know which one is right for you?! That’s where I come in! Here are some tips on simplifying your apartment search and finding the perfect home.

Do your homework, then hit the road!

  1. Create a list. Write down all the things you want in your apartment, from floor to ceiling. Then number them in order of importance. You will find a lot of apartments that have items on your list, but few that have all. Keep this list on you while you are searching, so can reference back. This includes important questions that you may have about the neighborhood, amenities and more.
  2. Budget. Before you start your search figure out how much you can spend. Write this number down and do not budge from it. A rule of thumb is 30% of your take home income.
  3. Start your research. The best way to research is online! Go to Google and search apartments plus the city and state, Craigslist, ask your friends on Facebook, or use an apartment search website. You want it, the web has it. These are great resources and will save you a lot of time driving around looking for signs, plus the webpages have all the information you need about the properties, including amenities, pet fees and more.
  4. Keep a running tally. Make sure to keep a running list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of the apartments you like. It’s hard to remember all of them and you do not want to have to backtrack, prolonging your search.
  5. Call the properties before you visit. You want to plan your attack before you drive all the way down to the properties. Call them to make sure they have the exact floor plan you are interested in available for your move-in date, at a price you can afford. If they do, make an appointment. A good idea is to make a majority, if not all your appointments in one day, that way you can cover more ground and become closer to your decision.

Start your engine!

Once you have all your appointments lined up and begin your rental tours, here are a few things to keep in mind while you’re looking around.

  1. Keep your eyes open. While you are touring the apartment community make sure to look at everything and note things you like and dislike. This will be extremely helpful when you are making your final decision.
  2. Check out the common walls. Sharing walls can be annoying, especially when you end up next to a noisy neighbor. When you are inspecting the apartment make sure to look at all the common walls to ensure they are sound proof to your liking.
  3. Don’t forget about the amenities. Be sure to ask about the amenities in and outside of the apartment. There are a lot of common areas on apartment community grounds and you want to make sure they add value to your decision; you’re paying for them so you might as well enjoy them.
  4. Talk to the neighbors. It is important to love the community you live at and the people living there would be the best indicator of the apartment community itself. Notice the people walking around and the staff in the leasing office.

Now it’s decision time. Look at your original list, the one you started before your apartment search and compare it to your walk-through notes. Choose the place the fits both your list and your budget, then call the lucky community and secure your apartment! Make sure to do this sooner than later, rates fluctuate based on availability. 

  • If the apartment community is pet friendly, don’t be surprised to pay a monthly pet fee and extra security deposit.
  • Make sure to read the fine print about your security deposit, what it covers and fees that are deducted when you move out.
  • It is a great idea to get renters insurance. You want to make sure your belongings are covered, just in case of an accident or break-in.
  •  Make sure to pay your rent on time to avoid late fees.

Do you have any tips you can share to future apartment renters, while they are searching?