Renters make up more than a third of the residential population. Because there are few strings attached, renters can easily move from one unit to another with little risk. For that reason, if you’re renting, you’ll probably find yourself apartment hunting many times.
Sometimes, you get lucky and find a great apartment. Other times, you may have a terrible experience. In order to avoid such a bad time, do your due diligence and consider several things while on the hunt.
1. Consider Budget Options
Some markets are highly competitive, driving up the price and making it harder for you to find a suitable apartment. Depending on your income and location, you may need to make some budget concessions.
For example, consider getting a roommate. “You’re much more likely to find an affordable apartment on a larger, combined budget than on a single income,” suggests Yuki Graviet Knapp of Apartmentlist.com.
He also suggests conceding on a few amenities. For example, you might forego in-unit laundry and an elevator in exchange for a deduction. “Choosing an apartment that doesn’t have these luxuries might not be as… luxurious, but you could get a pretty awesome reduction in your rent cost for minimal inconvenience,” Knapp continues.
2. Note the Level
Whether you don’t think about it, or you don’t want to appear picky when filling out an application, the level of apartment in a complex may not have been a priority in the past. However, it’s an important consideration.
“At first, this might seem insignificant,” says a blog post from the Houston property management company Green Residential. “If you’ve never lived in a multi-story apartment building, you may assume the only difference between the ground floor and the levels above it are the number of stairs you’ll have to climb. But there’s more to living on an upper floor than just having to climb a few flights of stairs repeatedly.”
The article discusses things like the view, security, exit access, disability accommodations, ambient sound, and more. There are advantages and disadvantages to living on any floor in an apartment complex, and considering each will lead to a better experience overall.
You may not realize there’s a huge network of unlisted rentals available. Oftentimes, landlords will take the recommendations of current tenants, friends, and family rather than listing the unit. This decreases the amount of work for the renter and reduces the risk of getting a bad tenant.
Long-time renter Nic DiMascio of Facebook told Buzzfeed.com, “Tell your friends you’re looking! I found my super cheap, super cute, and super huge Santa Monica apartment through a coworker of a friend of a friend. Simple word of mouth can (at the very least) get you leads to places that would have gone off the market in seconds without a personal connection.”
4. Move in the Off-Season
Sometimes, you have no control over the time of year you move, but when you do, consider moving in the off-season. Certain times of the year yield a higher percentage of available rentals, but that also means there are more renters vying for that spot.
The most common time of year to move is May and June, but there’s likely still plenty of inventory in late summer/fall, or early spring. Even the winter can yield lower competition for a great apartment, according to a MoneyTips.com article, as it’s great for those looking for more affordable rentals.
“Intensify your search around one month before you plan to rent, preferably around the beginning of the month and the end of the previous month,” suggests the article. “In highly desirable markets, those few days of extra options can make a big difference.”
A well-informed renter is much less likely to have a bad experience. Research your market carefully, consider your budget, and search diligently to find the best apartment to meet your needs.