5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Renting

Don’t stress about renting! Let us help you know what to look for before your next apartment.

Moving can be stressful, starting from the moment you decide to move. Whether you’re a seasoned renter or if you’re moving into your first apartment there are tons of items to think of and questions to ask yourself. While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, these five questions will get you on the right track. If you’re interested in learning more about Apex you can check out our website, or apply now to see what’s available for you. Give us a call or stop in to talk to a leasing associate!

1.       What are your needs and budget?

Before you start actively looking for a new apartment you should make a list of your top needs. What amenities are important to you? Think about both “wants” and “deal-breakers”. For example, you might find it nice to have hardwood floors or large closets, but if you enjoy cooking a gas stove and dishwasher may be absolutely necessary. If you’re more of a takeout type of person maybe a spacious living room is more important. You should also think about the furniture you have to make sure you’re only looking at apartments within the correct dimensions, otherwise you may find yourself unwittingly playing a game of Jenga or needing to buy all new furniture. Also think about community features, like a pool and fitness center, and if you have a dog consider amenities like a pet park, or at minimum pet waste stands to make your life that much easier.

As you’re thinking about what your needs versus wants, also keep in mind your budget. Most apartment communities require your monthly income to be three times that of the monthly rent, but also keep in mind other monthly costs. For example, some apartments include utilities like electricity, water, gas, or even internet in their monthly assessments, but that’s not always the case across the board. Also keep in mind there are often deposits, application fees, and other up-front costs you’ll need to budget for. On the flip side, some community amenities may end up saving you money, like if your new community has a fitness center you’ll be able to cancel your gym membership.

2.       Where do you want to live?

Once you have a list of apartment and community features you want, you should start thinking beyond the complex itself and at the surrounding area. Do you want something urban in a downtown location, or do you prefer the more laid-back feel of a suburban neighborhood? As you’re looking through the list of potential apartments also make sure to zoom out on the online map and see what else is around your potential new home. What are the grocery store options? Also consider other forms of entertainment like shopping malls, nightlife, fitness programs, libraries, or even access to hiking or biking trails. If you’re a dog owner also take a look at pet-friendly places nearby so you don’t have to leave fido at home the entire time.

Keep these things in mind as you’re touring communities as well. Make time to drive around the area a bit before or after you tour to get a better feel of the neighborhood, or even pull out your smartphone and see what businesses and locals are advertised near you. You can also check out online reviews to see what actual residents have said about the community and the surrounding area to get a better feel, or ask the leasing team what they like to do in the area. If you have kids you should also see what school system any potential apartments are in.

3.       What would your commute look like?

Once you have a general idea of where you want to live, it’s time to start looking at the specifics. First look at the obvious, where your current job is relative to where you want to move. How far are you willing to travel each way? Google Maps and Waze both have options to see the average drive time for a particular time of the day, or you can try driving it yourself to get a better feel. If you plan on taking public transportation make sure you research where the nearest train or bus stop is, and how often it runs. If the nearest stop isn’t a walkable distance, is parking free or would you need to add that cost into your monthly budget?

If you work from home you may not have to think as much about the commute, but there are other questions you’ll need to ask and amenities you’ll need to think about. Working from home is a great option, but you definitely won’t want to spend all day, every day in your apartment (no matter how nice it is!). Many apartment communities are now offering coworking lounges with free WiFi and charging stations so you can escape your living room for a few hours without having to find a local coffee shop and pay for an artisanal coffee just to get a change of scenery.

4.       What other rules are there?

No one wants to be surprised after they’ve signed away the next 12-15 months of their lives! While a good leasing associate will answer most questions before you have a chance to ask them, it’s always a good idea to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign, or even apply for, a lease. For example, what are the details of the pet policy? Many apartments have weight limits, a maximum number of pets, or breed restrictions. If you don’t currently have a pet but are thinking of getting one in the near future, what would that process look like, and what kind of deposit or monthly fees does that entail? Regardless of if you’re a pet owner, you should ask about other rules and restrictions to make sure you know everything beforehand.

Some other good questions to ask are:

·         Am I allowed to decorate the apartment, paint, nail holes, etc.?

·         What’s the policy for visitors and their parking?

·         What are the community quiet hours or other policies?

·         What are the parking options?

·         What are the community area (pool, fitness center, etc.) hours?

·         What are the lease terms, and what happens if I need to break my lease?

·         How do I pay my rent, when is it due, and how long do I have before a late fee is added?

·         Do they have a recommended renter’s insurance company?

5.       What’s your moving strategy?

As stressful as moving is, the pre-moving can actually be fun. Doing online research, browsing pictures and videos, even going on tours can be exciting. Moving itself is usually not as fun. Regardless of if you plan on moving in two weeks or two months, you should start putting together a strategy as soon as you decide to move. First take a look at how much you’ll be moving, and how far. If you have several heavy items or a lot of boxes it may be worth it to hire movers, or pull out those IOUs and get together a bunch of friends and rent a box truck. Once you’ve decided how you’re moving it’s time to think about what you’re moving. As annoying as it may be, moving is the perfect time to finally go through everything and declutter. Try out the Marie Kondo’s method, or something similar if you don’t want to go full KonMari, so you don’t have to pack and unpack the same tchotchkes or high school memorabilia for the fifth time and wonder why you keep some of these things.

As you’re packing keep in mind what you’ll need when. Start with items you won’t need for a while, like extra bedding, off-season clothes, and decorations, and end with daily kitchenware, toiletries, and clothes you’re currently wearing regularly. That way you won’t be frantically searching for plates to eat dinner the night you move or the next day’s outfit. For boxes themselves, many grocery chains allow you to stop by after regular hours to pick up boxes before they’re sent to the recycling center, and if you’re using a moving company they may provide a certain number of boxes free of charge.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely eliminate stress while moving, but with the right know-how and proper preparation you can make it as smooth as possible and maybe even a little enjoyable!

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