Of course when you’re moving, you’ll have an idea of why and where you want or need to be living. Location is most important factor when choosing a new apartment because you’ll be there for at least 6-12 months or longer if you choose to re-sign.
Price is also going to be one of the major key elements; maybe there’s a strict budget or you have some wiggle room. Either way you need to be diligent about price and discuss with your partner/spouse or roommates about finances. It’s important to be up front and very honest about it.
You have to be realistic about square footage, number of rooms, how many bathrooms, amount of closet space, as well as storage spaces like cabinets and drawers and storage closet (if available) you’ll truly need. Know what you have and if anything downsize & declutter before moving-it will help you a TON. A lot of new tenants aren’t allowed to make many adjustments to the space however it’s a great practice to be smart with organizing clutter and also using wall space in a tactful way(vertical not just horizontal).
Applications/fee, Deposit-first last month’s/credit check, Pet fees, utilities:
Step one in moving is taking tours and physically seeing the space. If and when you like an apartment (or condo/house etc) then you have to apply for it. Put in your application ASAP! Applicants are vicious at some nicer complexes and will snatch a unit from under you without a deposit down or unit being held (this happened in my experience twice). When you fill out the application, make sure you print neatly and if you mess up; either A) very carefully use white out and write clearly over or to the side of the mistake or B) start over on a fresh application if it can’t be fixed.
DO NOT PUT YOUR IDENTIFYING INFORMATION on it until the end especially YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER! For fear of it falling into the wrong hands besides your hands or your managers hands…BE CAREFUL!
But also don’t forget to sign the bottom and bring with you any needed documents like bills for identification, pay stubs or bank statements for income verification and an ID (of some sort). Usually application fees are no more than 20-40$ a piece, if at all.
Have an idea of your credit score beforehand- you don’t need to know this particularly but you’ll have a deposit based on credit so be realistic about what that number may be. They can run anywhere from like 300$- 2x the full rent amount (is what I’ve seen on Oregon applications). Sometimes it’s one full month rent or even first and last months rent OR a flat rate deposit based on your credit.
Pet fees are a big part too when you have a kitty or your best friend fido, you’ll want to bring them with you. These days it is expensive to bring your buddies along with you to a new place-I don’t know if every state has “pet rent” but usually you’ll at least be hit with a not-so-friendly deposit for your furry pal too. I know most major cities are initiating these fees, especially in big time NYC or Seattle.
Utilities are another monthly expense (most places don’t cover for W/S/G (water, sewer, garbage), so if anything one maybe comped but don’t go in expecting anything. Count these in addition to your rent and pet fees expenses could be upwards of 50$ or more depending on where you live.
Quiet community V.S louder kid friendly complex:
As far as this goes- you need to know what type of person you are. You may not have all the control in the world over this but, to an extent you do. If you are a family of four, you won’t mind having lots of kids and a more active community around you. But if you are a single adult, a quiet older couple or a pair who just isn’t about kids then you’ll want a much quieter complex. In your search be mindful of places that are loud and active versus more quiet and reserved. We personally don’t like to hear screaming, some badly behaved kids constantly and have to deal with many families in the pool for instance but you don’t have much control over it. So I always just ask what the manager thinks and if we can get a unit in a quieter building.
Hard floors/Laminate V.S Carpet:
This is a main point of a residence and he floors you have really set the stage for your apartment. If you have kids then you’ll want more carpet for falls and playtime. If you have dogs or cats then maybe hard floors might be a better option. There are often many options in an apartment and this may play more into what you’re looking for in a place. I find hard floors a little more difficult to clean the dust bunnies and get the corners spic and span but also impossible to keep nice clean carpets with dogs- so weigh your options and take it into account while visiting spaces. I love using Swiffer products on my floors and Dyson vacuum for carpet. I would highly recommend a Dyson vacuum, they are worth the money and you’ll want to use it for everything.
In Unity Laundry OR Laundry Room separate outside space:
I always prefer having my own laundry in unit. Sometimes it’s not possible and having a laundry room outdoors is usually what people would get stuck with. The moving of everyone’s clothes, having to pay coins for it, and going up and down floors with your laundry is a hassle.
Having an in hall laundry area is somewhat of the same problem. It’s always in the way, you’ll have clothes everywhere and moving them up and down (usually in a stack able version) isn’t the best for your back.
But those who can be blessed with an in-unit laundry room (small or large) will certainly appreciate some place to get rid of those stinky clothes, somewhere to get those spots out and a place to fold and sort. Handy too when you can do laundry in your own space at any hour. Do your best to also keep your laundry space clean and maintain as pests can get in through walls or where the connections come through. Wipe down your appliances every week or two in order to keep them looking nice and clean and working properly. You can also do a vinegar and hot water rinse cycle to “disinfect” your machine.
Renters insurance, Mold/Mildew/Pests, Late Fees etc:
Important things you need to know before moving into a new place. Renters insurance is required everywhere and there’s no need to have an over expensive coverage usually it’s required for 100K worth of renters insurance for a year time span. I go through Assurant and they have me on a plan that’s about $15 a month (which is normal for Oregon state) around $180 for the whole year to cover costs if any damages should occur. Believe me if a fire or something does happen you’ll be thankful that you had that coverage.
Mold/Mildew and Pests will and do often happen. Just ask your manager and go over these points in your rental contract. Usually it states that they will come and clean mold as it occurs and because it can make you very sick- it needs to be carefully cleaned with bleach and blocked from more moisture getting inside to create moldy areas (door seals, windows, bathtubs etc.). Pests are another story- I would think that a maintenance person or manager would cover that as well but I can’t speak for all properties. I know our complex here has a “pests day” where you can make appointments with an outside company if such a need occurs.
The penalty for not paying rent on time or past the rent pay days usually the 1st-the 5th. Late fees are usually anywhere between $50-150.
Gated V.S Non-gated:
Gated and non-gated complexes, these are also nice to take into account. Honestly especially in a sketchy neighborhood- I’d rather be a little more protected from the outside population. Having a key card or gate key is nice and also a bother, if lost or stolen you’ll be paying for a 30-40$ key, because they are specially cut at the key maker. Unlike a normal door key lock they are more intricate and therefore cost more. But not gated can sometimes be more dangerous and strangers being even more loud and obnoxious.
Security number, access code to pool/office/bunkhouse, newsletter/special events and maintenance number:
Things you should know that you may not think about, make sure you get the number for security company if they have it or local police/non emergency line.
You’ll need pool access codes or key/key-card if needed and knowledge about who can and can’t come into the pool area. Some complexes do not allow guests or limit to one per resident. Pets are not allowed in pool and clubhouse areas. Knowing the hours of when the pool is open and exactly when it closes is good to know.
Office hours are a need to know basis and you should memorize them so you’ll know when you can get help to a problem or concern. Know who is the manager and what the policies are for living in that complex.
A newsletter goes around in some complexes to let you know what the happenings are- special days of the month, holidays, closed office days or events like Taco Tuesday!
Having the maintenance number is crucial because you’ll have accidents and things will happen in your new apartment. And although it looks shiny and new- it’s been lived in before, so truth is it has previous dents and dings. Don’t be scared to live in your space though despite breaking in your own apartment. I love to be in new shiny spaces but a cozy lived in place is just as nice too.
I hope that this is super helpful information! If any of this helped you or you want to pass onto someone else, I would really appreciate it.
*This is all information I have learned over the years and is based on my knowledge in Oregon.*