Apartment Hunting Checklist

It’s getting to that time of year when your current landlord starts pressuring you to decide if you’re going to stay or go. If you decide to wander to greener pastures, then you know how important it is to make sure the new place has everything you want.

Before you go out home-hunting, you should already have a short list of your non-negotiables, or the things you absolutely need in a place. This might be an in-unit washer and dryer, or the ability to take your dog with you.

Here is a short list of frequent non-negotiables you might want to consider:

  1. Allows pets or is pet-free
  2. includes a washer and dryer
  3. includes lawn care and trash
  4. has on-site parking or a garage
  5. certain number of rooms(like, if you have a roommate, you’ll need at least a 2 bedroom place)
  6. location(how far from work or school are you willing to be?)

Though I’ve found Zillow to be a great apartment-hunting resource, driving around town for ‘for rent’ signs can be another great strategy, especially if you’re looking to rent in a specific neighborhood.

Once you’ve got a few places to check out that you know already fit your non-negotiables, it’s time to write up your second list, what I like to call the ‘Quality Check.’This list is the one you take with you to a showing and run through on tour to make sure you won’t get any unwanted surprises later on. While your list might be a little different than mine, here’s what mine looks like. By the way, feel free to print this list out and use it on your own apartment misadventures. I’d love to think my obsessive need to list things will somehow help mankind.

Quality Check List for Apartment Tours

Questions to Ask

  1. Is this the actual unit I’ll be living in? (If they say no, demand to see the actual unit.If you don’t, you will 100% regret it, trust me. Been there, done that.)
  2. Are any utilities included in rent? What utilities am I responsible for?
  3. Am I allowed to hang things on walls? Can I paint the walls if I return them to their original state upon moving out?
  4. Do you have any other policies I should be aware of?
  5. What appliances are included?
  6. Who are my neighbors? What do you know about them? (This seems like an invasive question, but it can save you lots of frustration down the road if you know ahead of time that your would-be neighbor is an aspiring trumpet player.)

Things to Do

  1. It might seem odd, but bring your phone and charger and try out a few outlets to make sure the majority of them work.
  2. Do the included appliances seem to be updated and in good shape? Really old stuff is usually not a good sign.
  3. Does the place look well taken care of? Look for weeds on the sidewalk or mold on the sides of the place. The worse it looks, the more likely it is that the landlord doesn’t give a shit about their property and probably won’t give a shit about you.
  4. Try the water pressure on the sinks and showers to make sure they’re in good shape.
  5. Are the walls clean or all scuffed up? If they’re scuffed, you’re within your rights to request that your landlord fix it up before you move in.
  6. Check the light fixtures to make sure they all work.

In general, use your good sense when evaluating a potential home. I once went to check out a place that looked great online, but when I got there the place was trashed and the landlady refused to give me a tour because she had left her tiny Pomeranian in the car and refused to let him out of her sight. That was a lot of red flags for me, and I straight up told her I was definitely not interested anymore.

Don’t settle for something because you’re worried about time or if you’ll find something better. YOU WILL. Keep looking at places, until you find one that has what you’re looking for. It is out there, believe me.

Happy apartment hunting!


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