When I moved to the East Coast this past summer, I had to find an apartment that would work for Derek and I… without actually seeing it.
It stressed me out, because we had to sign a lease without seeing any part of it. We were driving across the country and didn’t want to pay for a hotel, especially since we had our dog ( Bear ) too. It was very important to us that we already had a place to live when we arrived in Maryland.
So I took on the challenge of searching the internet for the perfect apartment. Maybe it was naive of me, but I didn’t think it would be that challenging or stressful. I had searched for apartments and housing throughout college ( I moved house every year ) and thought the only challenge would be not physically seeing it. And BOY was I wrong.
The more I looked, the more I realized there was a lot of things to consider. I practically clawed out my eyes from staring at the computer screen for so long searching for our current apartment, so I wanted to help you out! I’ve complied a list of things that you can / should remember when looking for an apartment ( or a house! ) to make it much easier for you, and to make sure you find the perfect one.
You’re welcome. 🙂
1. Make a list of priorities
This may sound obvious, but it’s much more challenging than it seems. When Derek and I were making our list, we ranked them in order of importance. This really helps!!! For example: if location is the most important thing to you but you are flexible with square footage, you might choose something closer to your job but smaller in size. There should be none with equal importance. Get thinking!
Our list ( in order of importance ) looked something like this:
1. Pet friendly
2. Washer/dryer IN the apartment ( NO: shared / coin-operated / separate building laundry for us!)
3. Location: within 5mi of Derek’s school
4. Free parking ( this was harder to find than I thought! )
5. Not under 700 sq. ft.
I think we had a list of 10-12 things that we ranked in order. This way we found out what we were willing to sacrifice if we needed to. Fortunately, we didn’t have to sacrifice a thing!
2. Remember public transport
( source )
For larger cities, it is always great to be close to the metro/bus stop. Derek and I have used it a bunch, and is super nice when we want to go out and have a few drinks. We don’t have to pay for a cab, it’s safe, and much quicker than driving!
3. Use Google Maps!
I cannot emphasize how important this tool is! This is a great way to see what’s close to you: shops, public transport, your job(s), gyms, the list goes on. I definitely recommend dropping the little person onto the road to get a street view of your apartment complex/house. This is how Derek and I were able to look at the exterior and exactly how far we were from the metro stop.
4. Research your neighborhood
This is part of apartment hunting that I wasn’t thinking about initially, but Derek brought it to my attention. Especially in bigger cities, they are split into distinct neighborhoods. You want to make sure you’ve moving to a safe place!
This may seem a little silly, but if you’re moving to a big city there are a few things to consider as far as windows are concerned. Are there enough windows? What’s the view? Will I get a sunrise or sunset? Are buildings going to be blocking the natural light? I don’t know about you, but windows are suuuuuper important to me. In my apartment, I have two huge windows that go nearly from the floor to the ceiling, the door to our balcony has a floor-to-ceiling window in it, and we have a large window in the bedroom too. As a bonus, we have a giant tree outside the living room window so it blocks out the parking lot and other buildings, especially when the leaves are there!
6. Closet space
This is the one thing that I honestly didn’t even think of when moving. You don’t realize how important storage is until you don’t have it! We have one walk-in closet in our bedroom used mainly for clothes, shoes, dirty clothes bin, and backpacks/bags. Other than that, we have a linens closet in the bathroom, and a small coat closet in the living room. When we moved in, I thought that was enough. Bear in mind that Derek and I fit everything we owned into my Honda CRV, with only one seat in the back folded down ( we kept two up for Bear so he could lay down ). Once we started accumulating common household things ( vacuum, ironing board, toolbox, cleaning products, Christmas decorations, blankets, winter coats, towels, etc ) we quickly started to run out of space. So make sure you have enough space and/or be prepared to find creative ways to store your things!
This is the best advice that I can give you! I really encourage you to start looking for apartments as soon as you know that you will be heading to your new destination. The quicker you start looking, the better chance you have of getting everything on your list of priorities!
What advice do you have for those who are apartment hunting? Let me know!