During the apartment hunting process, it’s good to establish a rental checklist. Everyone’s list looks a little different: For some renters, a walkable neighborhood is absolutely imperative. Others simply cannot live without adequate parking space. Maybe you won’t settle for anything less than an ultra-modern loft–or maybe, or you’re anything like me, you simply can’t picture yourself in anything but a charming vintage unit.
Regardless of your must-haves and must-have-nots, it’s important that you don’t let your emotions get the better of you when you’re apartment hunting. Sure, that recent renovation with sweeping views of the city looks great, but if it doesn’t meet your criteria (i.e it will require a two-hour commute and you are adamant about living close to work), it’s important to be strong enough to walk away. Here are a few rules to live by when apartment hunting:
1. Don’t book showings at units that don’t meet your needs.
If you are tempted to look at an apartment that is too far away from your job, out of your budget, or in a neighborhood you deem unsafe, don’t do it. Decide upon your non-negotiables, and stick to them. Otherwise, you run the risk of falling in love with a unit that simply won’t make you happy. Some popular non-negotiables to consider for your rental checklist are:
- Commute time
- Access to transit or important highways
- Central air
- Pet policy
- Smoking policy
- Rent price
- Size of the building
- Age of the building
- Parking facilities
- Square footage
2. If you’re apartment hunting with a roommate, make sure that you are both on the same page.
Hopefully, you’ve already hammered out your individual needs before agreeing to become roommates, but if not, sit down and have a serious talk about how important various amenities are to each of you. Do this before signing a lease. It could be that your roommate prizes location above cost, while you’re a total penny pincher. In this event, one (if not both) of you is bound to be disappointed. This same rule applies to couples.
Even if differences arise, it’s not really that difficult to reach a compromise. For example, if you would rather save some cash and your new roommate would prefer to spend top dollar and live near amenities, it is only fair that your roommate pays a higher portion of the rent, since it was his or her desire that trumped affordability. If your significant other loves modern digs and you prefer a vintage feel, search for a recently renovated unit in an older building, or consider a modern unit in a charming and historic neighborhood.
3. Don’t waver… until you have to.
In the end, it’s inevitable that no apartment is going to be completely perfect. While you might have to waver on a few details, draw the line at apartments that make you uncomfortable, or concerned about your financial or physical security. After those basic needs are taken care of, you’ll soon learn that even if you can’t have that exposed brick or stainless steel refrigerator, you can still find an apartment that you love coming home to every day.