Top Five Things to Look for in an Apartment

By: Eric Bramlett

"If you are going apartment hunting, you have many options. Check the classifieds in any town or city and you will see pages of listings. Comparing apartments shouldn't be like comparing apples and oranges, though. Look for these five things and you can be sure you end up with an apartment that brings you plenty of joy:

1) What do you want? Since apartments vary widely, it helps to have a clear idea of what you are looking for. Make two lists: one of must-have features and one of nice-to have features. Then, start brainstorming. How many rooms and closets do you need? How much actual square feet of space do you need to fit all your possessions? Which amenities do you need or want? Do you need access to a washer and drier or do you need a security system? Do you crave great views, hardwood floors, and high ceilings?

2) What is the neighborhood like? Take a walk around the neighborhood and do some research before you rent. Find out how convenient an area is for groceries and other errands. Take into consideration what sort of transportation (or parking) is available. Most of all, consider how safe an area is. You don't want to be afraid of going outside your own home.

3) What are the neighbors like? If you are renting in any building where you will be running into your neighbors occasionally, you need to ask. Are your neighbors students or elderly retirees? Do they have children or pets? Consider whether you will fit in with the atmosphere and whether you can handle the noise of the building.

4) What is the total cost of the rental? Find out the average heating, power, water and hydro costs as well as the costs of insurance and cable. If you are expected to pay your own heat and power, make sure that you - and only you -- can access heating and air condition controls.

5) What is the condition of the apartment? Is there any evidence of pests or any traps set out for inspects or mice? Are the windows, walls, and wiring in good condition? Poor condition means less pleasant living and potential safety hazards as well.

A few questions are all it takes to find an apartment that doesn't come with any unpleasant surprises, so be sure to speak up when shopping around."

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