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 One About To Graduate

You may not know the next step to take after you get off that stage at graduation, but that can be the best part.

To the one about to graduate:

Congratulations! This is your final semester of your undergraduate college career. You have enjoyed a nice four (five, maybe six) years at your school, and all of your hard work, blood, sweat, and tears is finally about to pay off.

As someone who is about to graduate soon, I am not going to lie and say that looking into the abyss isn’t both thrilling and terrifying. There are few times in a person’s life when your life is absolutely full of opportunities.

There are so many possible choices for you to make as a new graduate. Maybe you want to settle down with your significant other and start a family. Perhaps you want to pursue a graduate degree and become a lawyer or doctor. If you are like me, you are possibly still deciding between many options.

The scariest part of the unknown is simply what it is: not knowing.

However, it should also be exciting. The future is ripe with possibilities, thrills, and sure maybe some disappointments. Not knowing is what makes life exciting.

Yes, your entire life has been clear-cut with someone telling you where to go next. This is the first time your choices are completely up to you, and that is something to celebrate!

You can be a YouTube star or a stay at home mom or dad, or you can travel the world and run a blog from wherever you find yourself on that particular day.

You could become a yoga teacher or a corporate lawyer, or maybe you realize you love education so much that you want to be a professional student for life.

For the first time in your life, there is no wrong choice or necessarily a right choice. You don’t have to go in a certain direction. You don’t need to have everything figured out, and it is okay to fail once in a while.

Your post-graduation years are meant for finding your way. Along the way, you may take a stumble or two, and that is perfectly fine.

As long as you continue to pick yourself up and commit to finding your way, you will find it eventually.

You may not know the next step to take after you get off that stage at graduation, but that can be the best part.


Someone Also Trying To Find Their Own Way

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Confessions of a Single Mother in Her Twenties While in College

My new motivation

It's hard to imagine that at a mere 23 years of age a piece of me is running around, screaming the few words he knows, tormenting the family pets. It's even harder to remember that a few short years ago, this was not my plan. And boy, was I in for a reality check.

Looking around all I see is my friends, my classmates, and my peers going out and having a good time, achieving and exceeding all their goals. They can all take road trips at a moment's notice, to nowhere in particular. Sleeping until 3 in the afternoon on any day is a thing of the past.

What people do not realize is, as a mother in her early twenties, I was made to put many things on hold. A whole new life was in my hands. This was my new life.

Before being a mom, I thought I knew what it was like to be stressed, to be busy. My anxiety and depression were at all time highs. Most of the time I wouldn't make it half a day without a potential breakdown. That was my new life.

I had so many goals set long before the surprise blessing of motherhood. The cold, hard truth was that I was no longer the most important person in my life. Why do I keep reiterating that fact? Because, though I have always been a very selfless individual, I was now thrown into an entirely new level of it all. I know I am not alone.

Now, I balance a work life, college attendance, and try to still achieve all the goals I set out for all those years ago, somewhat changing my path as I have gone along. No more are the late night study sessions or cramming for exams. Nowadays, one must meticulously plan every possible free moment and be open to the fact that nothing will ever go to plan.

Having a support system makes it all feasible. I can see an end, though not within reach quite yet. I am doing so much on my own, little support, but the support I do have makes my goals achievable after all. It reminds me that this does not mean I have to give up. I have a little person that looks up to me, he relies on me. In the big scheme of things, he will be just as proud as I will be of myself.

It is not all bad. The staggering amount of love I have for this tiny human is intensely overwhelming, as is the love he has for me in his smile when he sees me walk through the door after a long, hard day of work. He is my new motivation, where before motivation was lacking. The things I now do for him I once dreaded doing. Study sessions are no easier to get through, but knowing that it will all pay off and provide a sense of stability for my child and myself is rewarding and pushes me through the next chapter and beyond.

You cannot let life get in the way, use your experiences as a fuel to the fire, as I have done. I am prepared for it to take longer, I am prepared for the sacrifice of missing out on a few things while he is young, and I know I will be able to provide for him when he is older and be able to prove to him anything you set your mind to is possible with enough hard work and perseverance.

I am a college student. I work full time. I am a Mom. I CAN do it all.

Cover Image Credit: Harsh The Blog

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