Apartment hunting can be so stressful, but with the right strategy, you can be a pro home scout in no time!
As you know, I live in Houston, Texas, and apartment hunting can be a challenge. There are so many apartment complexes at various price points and offerings that it can become overwhelming. With these 5 tips for apartment hunting, I’m going to help make your home search a little easier.
Know What You Don’t Want
This is a huge thing to consider when looking for a new apartment. Consider where you live now, and think about your new home. Make a list of things you know that you do not want in your new place. For me, I know that I do not want a place that:
- Is right by the garbage chute or garage entrance. There is so much foot traffic from people coming into the building, and the smell from the garbage room is just disgusting.
- Does not have concrete flooring. My toddler likes to jump around – as kids do-, and I would like to not have to tie him down in order to keep the neighbors downstairs from throwing a fit by the slightest footsteps.
- Has an inconsiderate front office staff. These are the people who will be taking your monthly rent checks, writing up your work orders, or collecting your mail. I want them to be nice, friendly, and courteous, acknowledging that I am a person too, not just a tenant.
- Does not tell you when they are going to be entering your apartment for maintenance etc. I have come to the realization that some property management do not care for our privacy. Some, however, do. I’m looking for those guys.
Know What You Do Want
After you’ve narrowed down the things you most definitely do not want in your new home, you can list the things that you do want. Depending on your budget, you can be pretty flexible in this area. Know where you are willing to compromise and what substitutes are acceptable. For me, I want:
- A secure enclosed garage with key access. I need to know that my car is safe, and that I can walk to and from my car to my home without having to hold my keys in between my knuckles.
- A nice kitchen with a single basin sink and granite countertops. While this is a luxury, I cannot tell you how double sinks frustrate me. It drives me insane when I can’t fit a baking pan in the sink to wash it.
- A lenient pet policy. One day, we plan to get a Siberian Husky, and since these darlings are placed on breed restriction lists, not many apartment complexes will accept them. Therefore, finding a place that accepts pets based on behavior is important to us.
Financials and Budgeting
Living in a big city can be costly, especially if you want an area that is safe and family friendly. In Houston, there aren’t that many areas that are safe, family friendly AND budget friendly. We’ve had to do some budget manipulation and make some sacrifices in order to be able to afford living in a safe and enjoyable apartment complex.
My best tip is to write down every cent that comes in and every cent that goes out for a couple of months. Doing this will show you your spending habits and where you can pinch and stretch your dollars to get the most bang for your buck. It’s amazing how looking at your dollars move will motivate you to budget better. You’ll also be surprised at how much more you can save and spend on more important things – like a new home.
Apartment Hunting and Sight Seeing
After you’ve figured out what you want in your new home, it’s time to get out there and look at some apartments. These are some steps I stick to when preparing to go out and do some actual hunting:
- Internet search and reviews. I always read reviews for apartment complexes. If I see a highly rated complex, I’ll read the reviews and check for a pattern. I know that there are incentives for positive reviews, so I read the negative reviews as well. If it seems legitimate, I’ll consider it in my final decision. I have read reviews about the complexes I have lived in, and they are pretty spot on, so I know that there is some substance to negative reviews. I like to find reviews on Yelp and Google.
- Dress casually. I strongly believe that you should treat people well, no matter what they are wearing. You can’t determine someone’s character or financial standing by what you can see at first glance. This is how I determine if I’m going to like the front office staff. If they’re nice to me in my jeans and t-shirt, they’re okay by me.
- Prepare your speech. Property agents want to know what you’re looking for, your price range, and when you plan on moving in. I tend to tell agents that I’m moving in sooner than I am, because they’re usually more attentive to quick sales. They are sales agents after all. I understand that there’s a quota to meet, so they might not be as willing to tend to me if they think I’m not going to be moving in for a while. With this in mind, I usually tell them I’m moving in a couple of months, even if I’m looking for something 6 months from now.
Deliberating Your Options
Now that you have seen your options, it’s time to decide, right? Wrong. You should never decide after your first or even second visit. You read that correctly. I strongly recommend that you let the euphoria of seeing a new place that is so much better than your current one settle down. It’s going to be mesmerizing, but you have to fight it. After a month and a second visit, you might change your mind a few times over.
Give yourself time to absorb all of the new information. This is why I recommend apartment hunting at least 6 months prior to your move. Your needs and wants might change. You might find something better, or you might see something you don’t like the second and third time around.
A good agent will accommodate and understand your deliberations. If you get someone that’s resistant or a little put off, you know you’re going to be in for a (bad) treat when they become your new landlord.
I’m currently apartment hunting, so I may just share my progress on here. Hopefully, I remember to take photos and do a little tour. I’ve always wanted to do an empty apartment tour and then a fully decorated tour. It’s definitely something I look forward to. If you’re looking in the Houston area, these are some of the spots I’ve visited and have my eyes on.
- Skyhouse Main – a highrise, concrete complex located downtown with a stunning Skydeck lounge area.
- The Southmore – a highrise in the Museum District, close to the Houston Arts and Science museums
- Muse at Museum District – also in the Museum District. It’s luxury living on the artsy side of town.
- The Mosaic – with floor plans named after classic artists, this highrise has an enormous fitness center and a stunning view of Hermann Park.
If you’re apartment hunting as well, I would love to know your tips on finding a new home. Let’s chat in the comments!
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