Opinion | Tips on picking your first apartment
February 11, 2020
It can be very intimidating to find a place to live without your parents with you to ask all the right questions. But fear not! It’s not so scary when you know how to prepare for this process.
Decide who your roommates are
The first thing you need to do is to determine how many roommates you’re going to live with and the maximum budget for each person. You should use the lowest one as a cap on how much you’re willing to spend. When picking your roommates, make sure to discuss expectations and habits. It’s important to know early on that your roommate doesn’t want to clean or expects you to be home to hang out all the time. Your schedules and needs may vary, but they shouldn’t conflict in worrisome ways. While living with your friends may sound fantastic, it could mean that living together will be the very thing that ends that great friendship. Not all friends are compatible roommates, and that’s OK.
Consider apartment wants and must-haves
Once you determine who you’re living with, the next thing you want to do is make a list of things you all want or must have in an apartment — included utilities, furnishings, pet-friendly policies, parking, a short walk from campus, fitness center, laundry in-unit or in-building, minimum number of bathrooms, etc. After you’ve decided all of that, you can then start your online searching process.
Tour locations that interest you
When looking online, make sure to view the photos and read the reviews. One common mistake is to see the price and not be sure if it’s the total rent or the individual rent (and yes, it happens more than you think). Once you’ve determined if a place checks most, if not all, of your boxes, it’s time to book the tour. Either call or schedule a tour online and make sure you have a way of getting there, whether it’s by bus or someone’s car. Book it for a time that you will all be available because it’s vital that everyone be there.
Do your research before you sign anything
Always make sure to ask for a sample lease so you can have someone look it over, either someone in your family or the legal team on campus. After that, you should compile a list of questions you have about the apartment so you can ask the representative who gives you the tour. Questions like: “How do I pay rent: online or in-person?” “Is a deposit required?” “Are there any plans to update the building or surrounding buildings?” “Have there ever been noise complaints?” “Do I need a cosigner?” If you can’t think of any questions, you can always Google good ones to ask! Most of all, keep in mind that the management is still going to tell you the best things about the place and not the worst, so trust your gut and do your research before signing.
Marykate is a sophomore in DGS.