15 Checklist Items For Your First Apartment Search

15 Checklist Items For Your First Apartment Search

Only the most important factors you must consider.

Moving into your first apartment is one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences of young adult life. Here is everything you need to consider in your search for your first apartment. I recommend creating an Excel spreadsheet, or at least a list, of the following items, and filling it in as you look at potential apartments.

1. Commute.

How far are you looking to live away from your job and/or school? Always factor in commute times, first and foremost. Google Maps is your friend. Also take into account traffic to determine just how long your daily commute would be.

2. Rent.

Monthly rent is the second thing to consider, despite popular belief. It doesn't matter if you've found a $700 monthly rent if it's an hour and a half away from work.

3. Utilities.

Every apartment you view online should list what is included in the rent. Try to find as many utilities included in the rent as possible, because that is fewer bills you have to worry about. Look out for electricity, heat and air conditioning, hot water, cable, Internet, and trash removal.

4. Floor plan.

Are you looking for a studio apartment (typically the cheapest option because there is no differentiation between rooms) or a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, or even more than that if you're going to have roommates?

5. Square footage.

How big is the apartment? Be prepared to pay more per month as the square footage increases. In other words, don't pay $1,000 a month for a 500 square foot apartment.

6. Laundry.

Does the apartment have washer and dryer hookups? If so, that means you have to bring your own washer and dryer. So unless you have two available machines or the money to purchase new ones laying around, you want to look for apartments that have the washer and dryer in-unit, or available for use in a community laundry room.

If the apartment complex does have a community laundry room, take note whether you have to pay to use it, or whether it is at no additional cost (included in rent). Otherwise, look at local laundromats.

7. Furniture.

Is the apartment furnished? If not, you'll have to bring your own, which is definitely a pain. Which appliances does the apartment have?

8. Application fee.

Most apartment complexes require you to apply to live there, and that will be one application per person. So if you and one other person want to live in an apartment, you will both have to fill out your own application, and each pay the application fee.

9. Security deposit.

Again, most apartments require that you pay the security deposit in full before you move in. This payment will either be returned to you at the end of your lease, if you do no damage to the apartment - or, if you trash the place, or punch a hole in a wall or something, your landlord will keep as much of your security deposit as it takes to return the apartment to the condition it was in when you first moved in. This is typically an upfront cost of a few hundred dollars.

10. Lease term.

Does the apartment offer different lease terms; for example, six months or one year? How long of a lease are you looking for? Keep in mind that you will be charged a lot of money if you break your lease, AKA move out before your lease is up. This is one of the terms you are agreeing to when you sign your lease agreement.

11. Renter's insurance.

Some apartments will require you to get renter's insurance and submit a copy of the policy you purchased in order to move in. Renter's insurance covers the cost of your belongings that you move into the apartment, in the event that you are robbed or a fire or natural disaster occurs and destroys all your stuff.

My boyfriend and I pay only $20 a month for renter's insurance through Progressive, but the monthly rate increases depending on the collective value of everything you own (we don't have a lot of nice stuff).

12. Pets.

Don't expect to be able to take your furry friends into any apartment you like, because a lot of places don't allow them.

13. Floors.

What floor is the apartment you are looking at on? Would you prefer a first floor or second floor apartment? You probably don't want to move into (and out of) a third floor, unfurnished apartment with no elevator - just saying.

14. Parking.

Is there a designated parking spot for each apartment? You will most likely have to inform the apartment of how many cars you have, and what their make and models are. Some may restrict parking spaces to one per apartment. Who knows, there may even be a parking garage.

15. Amenities.

You may wonder why an apartment's rent may be so high. Take a look: it might have a balcony, a walk-in closet, a pool, a full gym, or in walking distance to the beach. Look at the apartment's website to determine its full amenities.

Every apartment is different, but the basic needs stay the same. Use this list of most important factors, and add some of your own values that may not be listed here, to discover which apartment is best for you. Best of luck apartment hunting!

Cover Image Credit: Getty Images

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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