For many prospective buyers, finding a dream home is stressful and time consuming, and that goes for apartments as well.
Fortunately, apartment hunting doesn’t have to be a nightmare: before throwing in the towel and signing for the sake of having a roof over your head, consider some high-level tips to focusing your apartment hunt and, ultimately, deciphering between needs and wants. While every apartment hunt is different and comes with its own set of conditions, the following tips aim to point you in the right direction.
Set your sights on a target neighbourhood
If you’re new to a community, narrow your search down to a few areas and take a couple of days to get to know each of those areas intimately. Taking the time to walk into stores, note local culinary offerings and people-watch helps you conclude whether you and your family are a good fit for the community.
Remember: although the trendiest neighbourhoods may offer the trendiest apartments, they may also be the most expensive. If you need to live your life in vogue, but within a budget, consider an area nearby a trendy neighbourhood, rather than in it.
Pare down your prospects
After you’ve decided which neighbourhood to target, check for listings within your budget. Narrow your search down to five or six apartments, and then contact the landlords. Note the rent amount, and remember to ask if there are any hidden fees that you should be aware of, such as utilities.
Be sure to scout the addresses in advance to ensure they make sense for your commute or for more domestic tasks such as grocery shopping. As winter is a North American reality, picture every street covered with the snow of a fresh blizzard when conducting your transportation audit.
Make sure that any appointments you make to view the apartment are during daylight hours to ensure the rooms are viewed in natural light. If a landlord is reluctant to show you an apartment during the day, or wishes to show you another unit, there may very well be something they are not telling you about the place. This is especially important when scouting basement apartments.
Inspect the apartment and ask questions
Don’t be shy when inspecting a prospective apartment. While you should ask permission first, feel free to open closets, assess cupboard spaces and scrutinize washrooms. Furthermore, you should take measurements of the apartment’s dimensions to ensure your furniture will fit and be moved in with ease.
If you notice any cracks in the walls or other damage you feel requires attention prior to move-in day, notify the landlord before signing anything. If the landlord agrees to fix the damage, or promises to reimburse you for any improvements you make, make sure everything is put into writing for legal purposes.
Here’s a quick checklist of things to check during your apartment inspection:
- Is there currently a tenant? If an apartment has been vacant for an extended period of time, find out why.
- Is the washroom clean? Is it big enough?
- Why is the previous tenant moving out? Ask about the neighbours.
- How much does the current tenant care about the apartment?
- Is there any evidence of bug or rodent infestation? Look behind couches, behind the fridge and in the backs of cupboards or drawers. Strange musty smells can also be warnings of possible infestations.
- Inquire about parking (if you plan to use a car.)
- Inquire about public transportation (if you plan to use it.)
If you like what you see
The apartment hunt is a harsh and cruel game! If you find a dream apartment and simply must have it, there is a high chance someone is lining up behind you to snatch it up in the event that you falter. Before visiting an apartment, always make sure you have all the paperwork necessary to sign a lease in order. Don’t let your dream apartment slip through your fingers because of a forgotten document.
After securing an apartment, be sure to protect it’s contents! A tenant insurance policy will protect your possessions from damage or loss in a variety of situations, like theft, fire and vandalism. When you’ve found the apartment of your dreams, make sure you’re properly insured as well.