Moving into a new apartment should be an exciting and positive experience. But whose fault is it when you discover that your new place is just yards away from a noisy railroad track, or that your neighbors love to party until the break of dawn on weeknights? It is easy to be drawn in by cool features like shiny hardwood floors and brand new stainless steel kitchen appliances, but that is not nearly enough to seal the deal. It pays to do your homework before signing that lease.
As you visit apartments, try to avoid having tunnel vision by only focusing on the unit itself. Instead, pay attention to what is going on in, near and around the apartment. Asking the following questions will not only shed light on what type of apartment community you will be living in but also how well management, well, manages the property.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LOCATION
Is the apartment difficult to locate?
Will you have easy access to public transportation if needed?
How close is the nearest bus stop, highway or major intersection?
Will you be in close proximity to stores, schools, restaurants and similar establishments?
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GENERAL COMMUNITY
Do you see any roaming animals?
Do you feel safe enough to live here long-term?
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APARTMENT BUILDING
How far of a walk is the laundry room or trash area? And are these areas well-kept?
How full does the parking lot get at night and on weekends?
Are there any unsavory odors like cigarette smoke?
How are packages delivered when you are not home to accept them?
Are elevators in working order? Are stairwells clean and well-lit?
If there is a security gate at the entrance, is it functioning properly?
Is there a proper way to let visitors into the community or building?
Are the common areas (clubhouse, exercise room, hallways, lobby) clean and well-kept?
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE UNIT FOR RENT
Do all the doors and windows open, close, and lock properly? Are they drafty?
Will you have any control over the heating and air?
Do the faucets and toilets have suitable plumbing?
How is the water pressure?
Are there any leaks or clogs?
Does the water take long to heat up? Does it even get hot enough?
Do electrical outlets work? Where are they located? Are there enough sockets for your needs?
Look up. Does the ceiling show signs of a recent leak? Any cracks? Signs of mold or moisture?
Where are smoke alarms and sprinklers located?
Do you have cell phone reception?
Does the front door have a peephole?
Will your large furniture fit through the door?
How old are the appliances? Do they work?
Is there enough storage for your things?
Which utility companies will you be required to open accounts with?
Are you allowed to paint or make any other aesthetic changes?
QUESTIONS ABOUT NOISE
Can you hear neighbors above, below or beside you?
Can you hear children playing?
What about traffic noise?
Is there a nearby fire station, playground, train tracks, or anything else that could cause a lot of noise or foot traffic?
As you can see, there are so many factors to consider before you pack up that first box. You can’t just jump into a new apartment just because it looks great at first glance. And this list is only a fraction of the questions you need to be asking. Moving is a process–one that you should take your time with, even if time is of the essence. Besides answering all of these questions, you should try your best to at least drive by your desired apartment communities and surrounding neighborhoods during various times of the day and night. Just because things seem kosher when you do a walk-through at 11 am does not mean the area will still be so cozy come 8 pm.
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