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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!