Factors to Consider When Looking for an Apartment
View more related buyers guides
Published by TOP4 Team
Moving out of the family home and looking for your own place can be an exciting stage of your life. Just imagine — you'll be able to design your space the way you like, cook your own meals or order takeout as often as you want, keep the space as tidy or as cluttered as you please, and invite friends over and let them stay until late or spend the night.
But first things first. Before you can fully revel in your newfound independence, you have to find the right apartment to suit your needs. Because it will be your home for the next couple years or so, it's very important that you find one that you can truly be comfortable and secure in, and you'll have to take a number of factors into consideration before you can finally settle on an apartment that's right for you.
Read on below for the key details that you need to go over before you sign the lease on a new apartment.
It goes without saying that you'll need to pay rent every month, so narrow your apartment search down to units that you can actually afford. Take the time to work out your expenses against what you make at work and decide on a figure that you can confidently pay each month. Also, ask the landlord if there are any utilities that are already included in the rent amount.
A spacious apartment with plenty of rooms and floor-to-ceiling windows is a dream home for many people in the city, but hold your horses. If you're going to be living on your own, it makes sense to choose an apartment that is sized right for your lifestyle and your possessions. Keep in mind that you will be doing all the cleaning and the maintenance, and of course, that bigger apartments mean bigger rents. Pick a place where you can comfortably sleep, work, relax, and entertain a few guests every now and then.
You'll want an apartment that puts you in reasonable proximity to places that you frequent and establishments where you can obtain things that you need. For many renters, an apartment that is a short walk, drive, or bike/bus/train ride from their workplace is a primary consideration. You'll also want the apartment to have nearby convenience stores, supermarkets, malls, parks, banks, hospitals, drugstores, and other important establishments as much as possible.
You don't want to drop your hard-earned money on an apartment that looks like it's about to fall apart. Take time out from your schedule to inspect one of your prospects. Check the entire building — find out how long ago it was built or what year it was first rented out. Check the condition of the grounds, the common areas, the hallways, stairs, elevators, rooftop, and other spaces. As for the unit itself, don't be shy about inspect every nook and cranny. Open and close room and closet doors, try opening and closing windows, check the water coming from the faucets and showers, flush the toilet, test the sturdiness of the floors, tap the walls for hollow sounds, and check for signs of damage, mould growth, stains, and other telling details.
It’s also a good idea to take photos of the apartment, especially of minor signs of damage or permanent marks, before you move your stuff in, so you can establish that they were already there before you came.
You want to come home to an apartment that gives you peace of mind about your security, and not one that keeps you up all night for fear of intruders or other malicious intentions. It's best if the neighbourhood you choose is considered safe, but you still need to find out if the building has proper security provisions and measures in place, and if the unit you plan to rent already has or can be fitted with the appropriate locks and security systems.
You'll have to engage the landlord or landlady each time you enquire after an apartment, so take the chance to observe how he or she communicates and interacts with people. You can get an idea of their attitude and demeanour, which is important — it's great if you can get along well with your landlord, if he informs you upfront about important details about the apartment, and if he clearly and fairly explains his terms.
It may be early, but check out the current tenants in the building to gain an idea of what your neighbours will be like during your initial visits to the apartment building. You may find kids, people who smoke, people who play loud music, overly affectionate couples, friendly and not-so-friendly seniors, and all kinds of characters. Some of them may not mesh well with your personality or lifestyle, so decide early on if there can be a compromise in this regard.
Do you have one or two of your own? Or do you loathe the sound of tiny puppies yapping at every single movement, or cats yowling in the middle of the night? This can be a deal breaker for some people, and you have to decide whether you're all right with the building's pet policies or not. You may think you don't mind a few dogs, or that you won't see them anyway since you're often out for work. But keep in mind that some pet owners may try to skip out on some of the rules, and you may not see the pets themselves indeed, but instead find a not-so-pretty gift of poop or pee right on your front door first thing in the morning — and a row with the neighbors could ensue. So talk to the landlord about this right away.