American Spinster How-To: Your First Apartment

Part II: Making Your Selection

Last week I talked about 6 things to look at while surveying your apartment options. This week we’ll go over what to do when you’ve narrowed your list down to a few places.

Finding An Apartment, Part II
Looks idyllic from the outside…

First, you’ll want to call the offices of your top picks, ask if they’re accepting new leasers, and – if they are – schedule an appointment to discuss your application and view a unit. Make sure you can sit down and talk to someone and see the inside of an apartment before you submit an application. It’s a good idea to bring a friend along when you go, for safety and as an extra set of eyes.

When you’re at the meeting, ask questions. Lots of questions. Even if you think you’re being annoying. Some import ones are:

  • Do you change locks between tenants?
  • How long do tenants usually stay?
  • What are the most common complaints from tenants?
  • What are the maintenance policies? Will they cover repairs on provided appliances without a fee?
  • Who should you contact if you encounter a problem?

If you want, you can also ask about the age of appliances and how frequently the carpets are replaced.

At this stage, you want to be an apartment complex’s harshest critic.

Finding An Apartment: Part II
Could it be love?

Look at other units to see how residents tend to live. Are balconies and doorways clean and trim, or litter-strewn? Also pay attention to the lawn maintenance. Is it overgrown or does it look regularly maintained? Is the area well lit with street lights and parking lot lights? Is it the sort of place you’d feel safe walking through at night? As I mentioned in the last post, it’s also a good idea to drive by the complex during different hours of the day to see what the activity is like.

If you’re the sociable type, definitely try to chat with some of the current residents about what life is like there.

If you like the place, it seems safe, and everything financial seems on the up and up, and your friend hasn’t found anything to worry about, go ahead and apply.

Good Luck.

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