Choosing the right apartment is a difficult task and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly—after all, you’re the one that’s going to be living there! Here are some things you should consider before putting your John Hancock on a lease agreement.
Before committing to an apartment, bringing on a realtor or popping into open houses you should take a moment and consider what you want in an apartment. Is there a perfect apartment you have in mind already? While most of us would like a castle-like penthouse on Park Ave with a swimming pool and rooftop garden, most of us are below that financial threshold. Think pragmatically, what do you want out of the apartment? What is your realistic high point and what is your realistic low point, or, what is your ideal apartment and what is the lowest acceptable apartment? In order to answer these questions you might want to break it down into categories: Location, proximity, logistics, amenities, price and comfort.
When talking about location a lot of things can be considered. Location in the city, location of the apartment in respect to bars, music venues, highways and/or other noisy establishments, safety concerns—even smell can come into play when considering a location as a beautiful apartment next to a fisherman’s wharf or sewage plant may turn out to be a living nightmare. Choosing the right location might also come down to choosing the right neighborhood for you. What do you want in a neighborhood? Are you looking for a bustling place full of twenty-somethings fresh from college still keeping the nightlife going? Are you looking for a more relaxing, subdued neighborhood, one perfect for starting a family or working from home? Is there a sports arena nearby and is that something you want? The location might come down to simply finding a quiet spot to return to after work. Your proximity to work might also be an issue you’ll want to consider: some people love being close to their work, others find that a bit too depressing. Proximity to friends and entertainment should also be considered as it might get lonely, boring or expensive if you live too far from either.
One of the things you might also want to consider when picking a location is the proximity to food and what kinds of food are available. You might find a fantastic apartment in a great neighborhood but the nearest grocery store is two miles away; conversely, you might find the same but in an area full of restaurants and shops that cater almost exclusively to the wealthy, meaning if you’re not a part of that class, food will be a much bigger problem that you’d ever thought.
Depending on the city, it may help to determine what side you want to live on, East vs. West, near the lake or the highway. This is especially important when considering logistics. How do you plan on getting to work? If you’re driving will your new apartment affect your commute? If you have to take the train is there a convenient stop—this is especially important when confronted with inclement weather and the cold; it’s also one people often overlook when apartment hunting. Similarly to the food issue posed above, will you require a car to get your groceries or to do your laundry? Having a car can become of the most important issues when looking for an apartment as you’ll have to consider parking availability, garage costs or safety—is this an area where cars are frequently broken into?
Considering the logistical aspects of your living situation, may help you make a decision when it comes to an apartment with respect to the amenities of the apartment. Is there a washer and dryer available in the unit or in the building? If not how close is the nearest laundromat and is it accessible to you? The apartment’s amenities might also come down to whether there is a dishwasher or not, a porch, a grill (either in the unit or in the building), fireplace, whether it comes furnished or with utility costs included in the price. Know what you want and what you need, it will help make your decision easier.
Price will likely be the first thing you look at but leading with price can be one of the biggest mistakes you’ll make as price won’t reflect the issues above—which are much more imperative to actually living in the apartment. Sure you could find a great place for cheap, but if it fails all of the tests above it’s not the right spot for you. It might be prudent to pay a couple extra bucks a month if that means improved safety and comfort. You might also find yourself saving money if you find a place that doesn’t require costly cab fares, food or other logistical costs.
Finally, your apartment should be a place of comfort that you can turn into a home. Don’t pick a place that satisfies all of the above if it abjectly falls short of feeling like a home. Finding an apartment can be difficult but at the end of the day it’s got to feel like home; hopefully the tips above will make the search for a home much easier.
About the author: Robert Mansions is a writer for Apartments Management Group. Aside from constantly reviewing Chicago Apartment Rentals, he spends her free time riding his bicycle and going for day hikes.