We've all been there. Endlessly searching for your next humble abode. It's exhausting, time consuming, and sometimes downright disgusting (you know, the ones you walk into and are scared to breath because you'll catch the next bird flu. How did they get nice pictures of this DUMP online?!). Despite the huge undertaking it can be, you need to do it right or you'll be stuck living in a dungeon for the next year.
As a serial renter, I've had a variety of different apartments I've lived in. Over time, you get a feel for the top things to look for. There's always your essential list vs. your nice to have list. First and foremost, comes your budget - here's a list of essentials beyond that:
MUST HAVE RENTAL CHECKLIST:
By far, the most important thing when looking for a new rental: Is it safe all hours of the day? Yeah, you could find the DREAM rental of your life, but if there's a sketchy corner store or deep dark warehouse with some questionable activity right next door, it's not worth it.
I find that there's two ways that's most effective when looking at a location: 1. Friends/neighbors opinions and 2. visiting it lots of times, all hours of the day. Ask friends for recommendations on the area. When you visit a place and see neighbors out and about, ask them how they like living there. What is it like at night? In the morning? Weekends? Lastly, drive by during different hours of the day. What is it like at 7pm at night? 11pm? Walk around the block, does it feel safe? Are there friendly people about?
2. Closet Space/Storage Area
When you move as much as me you need to keep your appliance boxes around. Which means, you have 50" TV box you need to stash somewhere. Since I'm a DIY & crafter I have a BUNCH of supplies that don't look all lovely and styled in a home office. (Let's be real, it's a mess always).
So you need to have a place to stash things on the fly and hold all you extra "stuff" we know you all have.
3. Electrical Outlets
Always check where the outlets are! This one is often overlooked because you're looking at the space and how it will fit for your furniture, needs, etc.
Bathroom: You must have at least one, but 2 is ideal. One for your everyday items, toothbrush, plug-in air freshener. Plus a back up for your hair dryer & curling iron. (Guys - maybe a razor?!)
Bedroom: Minimum of 2, but must be on opposite sides of the room. One near your bed for your chargers. One across the room where your tv will be. Unless you don't have one, bravo to you!
Living Room: Minimum of 3, bonus if it has more. 2 for lamps (if needed) and an extra for temporary uses (vacuuming, etc.).
Kitchen: Minimum of 2-3. The microwave, coffee pot/tea kettle & other small appliances.
Does it have windows? Do the windows actually open? I've had two apartments in my past days where I did not check this. You think I would have learned from the first place. One was a beautiful bay window surrounded by gorgeous stained glass windows, but they didn't open! I didn't realize this issue since I'm moved in February and it was so cold out! My second time I made this mistake was a garden (basement) apartment. The front windows opened but old-school, swing from top style. They had no screens and it wasn't safe if I opened them (it would scream, come break in and steal my stuff!).
Having fresh air is so important to me, especially since I have a pup. I could be the cleanest person on the planet but without fresh air (or constantly burning candles) my home is always going to smell like a dog kennel.
Natural light is a must have and always on the top of my list. Where does the sun rise? Where does it set. If possible, try to see your rental twice, during different times of the day so you can see what the lighting will be like. Trust me, if you don't get natural light, it's like you're living in a cave and you'll be 50% more likely to be that crazy, unfriendly person that never says hi to anyone.
Light fixtures are another thing to take note of - is there overhead lighting? If not, time to invest in some lamps (which could be totally fun DIY too!). If you need lamps, see #3 - you'll need to make sure there's outlets to plug em' in.
5. Kitchen Counter & Storage
Check to see if there's enough counter space for prep work and everyday use. If there's no dishwasher, then your dishes will sit on your counter to dry, possibly for days. Make sure you have room for them and room for that last minute birthday cake you need to make for work.
Last but not least, check to see there's enough storage for all those pots, pans & dishes!
NICE TO HAVE RENTAL LIST:
- Off-Street Parking
- Outdoor Space
- Ability to paint/make changes
- Laundry/Access to Laundry
- Utilities Included
- Pets Allowed
Are you going shopping for a new apartment? Download this easy checklist to bring along, then you won't forget to look for a single thing!