Apartment Life: How to Check Out a New Complex Before You Sign a Lease

Are you moving to a new apartment? Finding a good one can be a challenge. Over the years, my wife and I have packed up and moved many times. We’ve learned a few things about investigating new apartment communities. Here are some tips to help you thoroughly scope out an apartment complex before you sign a lease:

1. Apartment Ratings.
The best way to learn about an apartment complex is by talking to tenants. The next best thing is to read reviews posted online by tenants. Apartmentratings.com has lots of anonymous reviews for complexes all over the United States. However, beware of positive reviews that are written by people working in the rental office. Pay attention to well-written negative reviews that mention bugs, plumbing problems or rats.

2. Craigslist
. The rants and raves section of Craigslist is a place for locals to air their gripes about things in their communities. If you ask about a well-known complex on Craigslist, you might get some very candid answers. While some responses may be completely fictional fabrications by Internet trolls and others may be politically incorrect rants, there may be a kernel of truth in some of the feedback your get about apartment complexes.

3. Online Discussion Forums. You can ask about well known apartment complexes in online discussion forums like CityProfile.com or City-Data.com. A few good questions about crime, safety, fire protection, schools, and neighborhoods can yield a lot of valuable information. You can learn a great deal about neighborhoods and apartment complexes.

4. Personal Tour.
If you live near your prospective new complex, take an in personal tour of the apartment complex. You can examine the fixtures and ask questions from the rental office staff. Tour the actual apartment that you’ll live in so that you can ensure that it is up to your standards.

5. Spotcrime.
Google’s maps and “street view” photos make it easy to see what your apartment complex looks like. But, if you really want to know what’s going on, search for your area on Spotcrime.com. The Spot Crime website will provide a detailed street-level map with all the crime incidents in a specified area and time frame.

Moving is always a leap of faith. These tips should make moving a little less scary and increase the odds of your moving to a great community.

Other articles by this conributor:
Seven Things Not to Do While Living in an Apartment
Tips to Avoid an Apartment Burglary
A Definitive Guide to Picking Up After Your Dog

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