Finding the right place for you
Finding a great apartment or home to rent can seem like a daunting task, but if you know how to look and what to look for, it can be a manageable process.
Local newspapers and websites such as rent.com and apartmentguide.com offer free online listings and allow you to search for units that meet your criteria. Real estate agencies can also be useful in the search process as they often have access to listings that aren't available to the general public.
However, once you’ve found a place you’re interested in, it’s important to consider the following things before you go any further:
- Budget. Determine what your budget is and how much you can spend on your monthly rent. Be sure to factor in expenses like utilities, transportation and especially food. Consider if there are any association fees that might be part of or in addition to the rent.
- Commute. Look into what mode of transportation will be best to get you to work or school as well as stores, restaurants and other places of interest. Calculate how long your commute will take and make sure it will fit into your schedule. It’s a good idea to do a dry run of the commute during rush hour (if that’s when you go to work) to see what the traffic is like in a real-life situation. Also, if your part of the country gets bad weather at any time during the year, are there reasonable and reliable public transportation options if you can’t drive your car?
- Neighborhood. Try to get a better understanding of what the apartment or home’s neighborhood is like, and talk to friends and neighbors in the area. Walk or drive around the neighborhood both during the day, at night and on the weekend; it’s a great way to assess if a building or neighborhood has what you’re looking for and is a place where you'll feel comfortable. Will you have a long drive if you need to pick something up at the store? Also, many municipalities have websites where you can go to check the number and types of all crimes committed in the area, along with the presence of registered sex offenders.
- Furnished vs. unfurnished. Depending on how much furniture and how many appliances you own, you may or may not want to look for a unit that comes furnished.
- Parking. Find out if the apartment or house comes with a designated parking space. Is there an additional cost for parking or is it included in the rent? Is there street parking available? If you’re very social and plan to have all your friends over frequently, is there enough guest parking?
- Pets. If you’re a pet owner or would like to be one in the future, you’ll want to be sure that the apartment building or housing community you’re interested in is pet-friendly. Keep in mind that many leases include additional fees for pets, and certain types of animals may not be permitted.
- Amenities. Look for other amenities that you would want where you live, like the use of a pool, gym, tennis courts, basketball court, bike trails, theater or party room.