What to Look For When You’re Apartment Hunting

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22

In almost two weeks, my husband and I will be moving to Denver. That means we’ll be living in a brand new city, starting new jobs and careers¬†and living in a new place.

What to Look For When Youre Apartment Hunting

That also means we barely have two weeks to find a place to live.

When you’re apartment hunting virtually, like we are, it’s hard to find a place you love. When I was looking for an apartment for my first place out of college, I relied on my future coworkers to recommend complexes. But since we’re looking for a house, it’s a little harder.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a place to live and can’t house hunt in person:

What’s the square footage?

I have a terrible sense of math, but I know that the last solo apartment I had was 600 square feet. That’s the frame of reference I use when I look at new places. Too often you find a place that’s great, only to realize that their bedrooms won’t be big enough for your queen bed.

You can look up property listings of your current place if you don’t know how much space you have now and use that to compare. If you’re going from a low cost of living to a higher one (like we are), you can expect to have less room.

What utilities am I responsible for?

Every rental I’ve lived in has had different standards of what utilities the renter is responsible for. In my first college apartment, we didn’t have to pay for electricity, so we used space heaters instead of running gas. In my next two apartments, I paid everything so I was more conscious of how I was using water, electricity AND gas.

You can also ask about average monthly payments for utilities – depending on how well the place is insulated, these can make or break your budget. Add in internet and trash fees, and you’re looking at expensive utilities.

Is there a washer/dryer included?

This seems like an obvious one, but I’ve seen a few good places that haven’t had washer and dryers come with the rental. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can buy a used set for a few hundred and sell them back when you’re done. If the place has everything else you want, it might be worth it.

But if you’re trying to save money wherever you can, then spending a few hundred on appliances might be harder to justify. This is when having a separate moving and furniture budget comes in handy.

Stay under the 25% rule

It’s always tempting to disregard price when it seems like you’ve found the perfect place. But since rent is usually everyone’s biggest expense, it pays to be careful. Most experts recommend paying 25% or less of your monthly take-home pay on rent. That way, you have enough money for your other necessities as well as savings.

This is even more important if you’re trying to pay off debt quickly, like I was last year. It was only by paying 14% of my take-home for rent that I was able to put half of my salary toward my loans. If you want a new car or a trip to Ireland, you might stick to a lower percentage.

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. That 25% rule is great. I have been looking for a new condo rent nowadays and I was very lenient with the price. I guess you’re right.. 25% is ideal enough as a cap for your rent so you can find better ones or the ones that are just the right fit. And about the dryer and washing machine, I’d usually stay away when they don’t have them hahaha. When it comes to the utilities part, that’s why I prefer condos over apartments, but condos hurt your pockets more than apartments so there’s still a big bargain.

  2. We’re moving out of state in a few weeks too and looking at apartments for rent is a completely different experience. For the last few places we’ve known where to look because we’ve lived her so long. I liked the 25% rule but since I do have loans to pay off the 14% rule seems like the best option for us. Finding a great apartment is possible, just takes a bit more time when you haven’t lived there before.

    • Moving to a new city is always harder. Now that we’re here, we know that finding our next place will be a lot easier. Good luck on your move and finding an apartment!

  3. Finding an apartment in the big city is a challenge. For me as long as its secure and dry, i can make up with it. Anyway I’ll be spending most of the time at work and the nature of my jobs requires me to move into places more often.

  4. I think it’s good to know what utilities you’re responsible for, because utilities can add quite a bit to your monthly rent. I think square footage is also really important. When I was single, it wasn’t really a problem, because a single guy could live in a sardine can if he had to. With a little family now, it’s good to know what square footage you need.

  5. I like the idea of making sure rent is only 25% of your monthly income. It is definitely not something I was able to do in college, but I wish I had. My college apartment cost half of what I made in a month and it was kind of hard to budget for everything else. However, I did save some money by being closer to campus since I didn’t have to drive there.

  6. My sister is moving out to go to college soon. She’s been apartment hunting, so she’s looking for good advice as to what to look for. I didn’t realize checking what utilities you will need to pay for will help you get a better idea what your monthly costs will be. I’ll be sure to share this info with my sister.

  7. I am wanting to move out of my parent’s basement, and into a place of my own. One thing I didn’t consider is looking to see if a washer and dryer is included with the place. It will be nice to have my own way to do laundry, especially if I don’t have to pay for it or travel far to get it done.

    • Yeah, we almost rented a place without a washer and dryer and knew we’d have to walk to a laundromat. Glad that ended up falling through, but it’s definitely a reality for a lot of people!

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