Friday, February 12, 2016

Apartment Hunting 101

Finding your perfect apartment can be the most stressful thing in the world. I personally think it's harder than buying a house because unlike buying a house, you can't make any major renovations. You might be able to paint, but more often than not you can't, you can't tear anything down, and really, it's just not a lot of space. And most people like to look at a lot of apartments before making their final choice, and they tend to all merge together in your mind.

At nights I'm a blogger, but by day I'm a Marketing Consultant for Quadrangle Development Corporation, at an apartment complex in Washington, D.C. I do a lot of marketing for the apartment (I plan parties, contact potential residents, find ways to promote our building) but I also do a lot of leasing work. So as you can imagine, I've picked up a few tips and tricks that you might not think of while on your apartment search.

1) Know your budget.

This is honestly the most important thing that I could stress. If you're looking to get an apartment more than likely you have a full time job, so you know how much money you make per month. You need to set a budget that not only accounts for rent, but other expenses. Food, Car payments, Student Loans, Insurances, Cell phone bills, the list goes on and on. By setting a budget on the limit of how much you can spend, you make sure that you don't get an apartment that is too expensive. It's easy to fall in love with an apartment without realizing how much it would actually end up costing. If you're going to have to live paycheck to paycheck to afford the place you live in, then it's too expensive. A good rule of thumb is that an apartment is good for you if you make 2.5 times the yearly rent. 

2) Do your research beforehand.

This pretty much goes hand in hand with the number 1, but I decided to give it it's own category. So here it is again: Do your research BEFORE you start looking. If you want to move to a specific neighborhood (Like for example, I knew I wanted to move to DuPont Circle) look on different websites to see what the going rate for an apartment is. If you're moving from the suburbs to a city, more than likely it will be a good bit more than you're currently paying. Every single apartment complex you might be interested in would absolutely love to tell you  how much rent is if you just send them an email, or even give them a call. We love to talk about our apartments! If you're maximum is one thing, and almost all apartments in the area you're looking are more than that, you  might want to consider looking in a different area or upping your budget. We advertise our apartments on Craigslist,, Zillow, and more, so I would start there.

3) Know your neighborhood!

Depending on what you're looking for, some neighborhoods might be more ideal than others. There are a lot of different things to look into. If you're a young person looking for a lot of stuff to do at night, check Yelp for different hang outs. If you have a dog, check to see if there are good spots to walk your dog out that don't require traveling. If you need to travel for your job, check to see if there are metros that are close by, or if you have a car that they have a garage. 

4) Ask about any associated fees.

Most apartments have standard fees, security deposits, application fee's, move in fee's, and sometimes that are yearly fees that they don't necessarily advertise. It's always better to ask straight up if there are any other fees that would have to get paid. Some apartments might have an amenities fees. Ask about laundry fees, pet fees, utilities, parking. It's better to know exactly how much you would need to pay before signing that lease. Also, in cities, a lot of apartments are rent control. This means that there is a market rent, and the apartment might have a "special reduced rent" that is cheaper, but only lasts for a year or so. So you might end up paying a significant amount more in a couple of years.

5) How long are you planning on staying?

Depending on what stage of life you're in right now, your needs might change. For example, if you're a recent college grad, chances are you might want to get a studio. If you're not ready to move in with your boyfriend, but it looks like it might happen in the next couple of months, you might want to look at a bigger apartment. If you're planning on having kids soon, you might want to think about getting a two bedroom. Are you only there for a year because of your job? It might make sense to look at a smaller apartment. 

6) Know your furniture.

Unless you're fresh out of college and moving into your first apartment, more than likely you're going to have some furniture. Even if you are right out of college, you'll probably get some hand me down's so you don't have to go out and buy brand new furniture. Know what size bed you have, and know the measurements. Most apartments will have floor plans that have exact dimensions so you'll know if your furniture will fit. The biggest mistake people make is having a bed that's too big for the room and they can't fit any more furniture into it.

Moving into a brand new apartment can be nerve-wracking, strenuous and more, so knowing any little tips and tricks can make your life so much easier! Have any tips for apartment hunting 101? Leave them in the comments below! 


  1. These are all applicable to home buying as well! We just bought our house last December, but had been shopping for well over a year. There are so many houses that looked great, and we thought we would love them, but they ended up being in very bad neighborhoods. I definitely suggest visiting potential apartments/homes in person prior to signing a lease!

  2. Such a great list, Taylor! I love all the tips you mentioned! This is honestly so helpful because I'm looking to move in with my boyfriend after finding a job in his state. This helped me understand how much research and thinking goes in to looking for the right place! Love it!

  3. Great tips! I wish I had had these when I moved into my first "big girl" apartment. Now I think these tips will work just fine for moving into my first house. BTW, your job sounds awesome!


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