On June 8th
I will be officially spreading my wings and leaving the nest, meaning that I will finally be moving into my very first apartment! I lived away at school for four years, so I’m no stranger to being away from family and having to take care of myself, but a dormitory just doesn’t compare to an apartment of my own.
I’ve been back home in the area for about a year now and have been religiously searching for an apartment for the past five months. So that’s the first step in the process, you’ve got to constantly be looking. And yes, sometimes it may take six months of looking to find a place that you can’t wait to move into. By looking around you will also find the apartment amenities that you are truly interested in as well.
The internet, of course, is a great place to start looking. I used www.craigslist.org extensively in my search as well as looking at local real estate websites. Apartments are constantly becoming available and being rented out, so these websites are always changing, sometimes as frequently as every few hours.
Location is also a huge factor, so when looking online just isn’t enough, you need to go out and drive around. Go to the neighborhoods that you are interested in and just ride through jotting down locations and addresses. Sometimes it is even helpful to ride around an area that you aren’t necessarily interested in because there are always hidden treasures to be found.
Also you need to have a definite list in your mind of what you must have in an apartment versus things you don’t care about quite as much. For example, I knew that absolutely wanted hardwood floors, may seem silly but it was important to me, so that was something I wasn’t willing to compromise on. However having a laundry machine in my building didn’t matter much to me, it would have been nice, but it wasn’t going to be a deal breaker. Making decisions like that will really narrow down your search and help you to find your optimal first place.
It’s also really important to know your budget, as the price of the apartment will probably be a major factor in what you will pick out. I budgeted everything down to a fine science; I had the extra perk of everything being included in my apt fee but electricity. So that’s an important thing to look for as well, what utilities are included and which utilities aren’t. You want to make sure you’ll have enough money budgeted out for things like cable, and internet if you choose to get those as well. It’s tricky getting your first apartment money-wise because until you do it, you really don’t know how much you’ll end up spending each month. But it helps to write down a would-be budget to get an idea.
Of course, you’ll also want to tour the apartments in which you’re really interested. Some real estate companies will send an agent to take you the through the apartment and explain different factors of the building to you, and some will give you a key and tell you to go take a look on your own. It’s also great to take a parent or a friend along with you when you tour the apartments so that you have a second opinion on things.
The final step is to be patient! Don’t get frustrated right away; it may take a little while to find a great place. If you still live at home and your parents are nice enough to let you stick around take advantage of the apartment-searching process. Save up your money during this time and don’t rush when you’re looking at places. If you stick with it you will find a great place. Enjoy!
Step 1. Look around, (a lot).
Step 2. Use resources such as internet, newspaper, even word of mouth. Talk to your friends and/or your neighbors.
Step 3. Make a list of things you definitely want in an apartment and things that you could go either way about.
Step 4. Figure out apartment expenses and budget your money
Step 5. Take a Tour
Step 6. Be Patient