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Tips for finding the perfect apartment to rent

Look for lower rental costs

There are several things you can do to find a lower monthly rent:

  • Look outside an urban area. While living downtown may seem like a priority, it doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford the rent. Instead, look for suburban apartments within a convenient commutable distance to work.

  • Consider transportation costs. Urban areas generally require a smaller transportation budget, as you will likely be able to take public buses or the subway to get around. However, you still need to factor in transportation costs, be it a bus pass or gas money, if you choose to live far from the city center.

  • Get a roommate. You can cut the price of any apartment in half simply by sharing it with someone. You need your landlord’s approval before doing so, but having a roommate can significantly reduce the financial pressures of renting. Just make sure you have a written agreement with your roommate that sets out all the obligations.

  • Think small. Square footage is very important in an apartment, particularly the number of rooms. Opting for a study or bedroom may mean losing some space, but it makes up for it with huge savings from month to month. Assess how much space you really need based on your lifestyle, visitors, pets, and storage. You may be happier paying less for a smaller venue.

  • Negotiate. Unless you’re looking for an apartment in a popular area with little change in tenants, many landlords are willing to bargain. Check out the rates for comparable apartments with similar amenities in the area and bring your research with you for a better deal. You can also offer to pay rent for a longer period at a time (a landlord can lower the rate if they pay three or six months at a time) or choose to sign a longer lease for a better deal overall.

Start hunting early

Don’t leave apartment hunting to the last minute. In a perfect world, it should start around three months before your “move in” date. Many current tenants have to inform their landlords of vacancies in advance; most areas require tenants to give at least 30 days notice, but many provide more.

While the features you want in an apartment are specific to you and your lifestyle, there are several basic things to look for:

  • Transport. If you currently don’t have a car, check the proximity of each potential apartment to public transportation. An apartment can be reasonably priced and in a great neighborhood, but if you have to spend most of your time walking or hailing a cab, it may not be as attractive. Also, you need to factor the cost of transportation into your budget to get a realistic picture of how much an apartment actually costs.

  • convenience. Choosing an apartment that is conveniently located can make your life so much easier. Find a place that is close to work, shopping, transportation, and amenities like laundry facilities.

  • Safety. Not only should an apartment be in a safe neighborhood, landlords must make an effort to make sure their tenants feel safe inside. Proper locks on each door, private entrances, and security should make you feel better about renting.

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