How To Choose An Apartment To Rent? ( Things To Consider )

  • By: Peter Parker
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Moving into a new apartment can be exciting and fun. However, the choice of an apartment can alter the way you live.

Choosing the right apartment to rent can positively affect your lifestyle while a wrong choice can have a negative impact. There is no clear good or bad when it comes to apartments.

A perfect apartment for you can be the wrong choice for another person. 

The entire process of searching for apartments, inspecting them, and finalizing the right one can be overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time renter.

Here are some tips to make the process easier. Follow these tips and you can surely find the best space to rent for you and your family. 

How To Choose An Apartment To Rent?

The three most important things to consider when renting an apartment are 

1. Your budget:

Most tenants consider only the rent when choosing an apartment, however, it is important to keep in mind that there will be other hidden costs and expenses.

For example, you will have to pay the security deposit and last month’s rent payment along with your first month’s rent.

You will also have to consider the moving-in expenses, application fees, and utility deposits. 

While the expenses may look small individually, they will add up and affect your budget.

Before choosing an apartment, prepare an estimated list of expenses and evaluate whether it falls within your budget. 

2. The neighborhood:

Once you identify the budget, the next important thing is to pick the neighborhood.

Think carefully about where you want to live.

  • Do you want to live close to your workspace or in a quiet suburb away from the city?
  • Do you want to live near your kid’s school or do you want to live closer to a public transport station?
  • Do you want to live in a busy shopping center or in a calm neighborhood with parks and convenience stores nearby? 

Choosing the neighborhood can be time taking but is important to pick the right apartment. Consider the preferences of other members of the family before making the final decision.

Once you zero in on a few localities, start searching for apartments that fit your budget and preferences. 

3. Amenities:

The amenities offered by the apartment are another important factor to consider while choosing an apartment.

Apartment complexes offer various amenities such as temperature-regulated swimming pools, fitness centers, clubhouses, covered parking spaces, parks, and children’s play areas. Also consider the in-unit amenities such as a washer and dryer, dishwasher, open terraces, etc. 

The rent of an apartment can vary based on the amenities offered. List out the top amenities that you require and choose apartments that offer those amenities.

When comparing apartments, also compare the amenities at each apartment and the additional costs for amenities, if any. 

What to look for when renting an apartment?

There are many things that can go wrong with an apartment. Some of them can be easily identified when you pay close attention. Here are the 5  things to look for when renting an apartment. 

The lease:

The lease contains all the crucial information about the rental agreement and what you can expect from the apartment.

Some important information you can know from the lease is the amount of the security deposit and how it will be safeguarded, guest policy, pet policy, permitted renovations, subletting policy, and renewal policy.

You have to read the lease document carefully and discuss any concerns with the landlord before signing it. 

The physical condition of the apartment:

Physical inspection plays a crucial role in identifying anything wrong in the apartment. Pay close attention to every single detail during the inspection.

While it may be tedious and time-consuming, proper inspection of the apartment ensures that you are getting the right deal and there are no inconsistencies.

Inspecting and documenting the condition of the apartment before you move in will also help to safeguard your security deposit. 

 During the inspection, you have to look for 

  1. The condition of  the walls, tiles, and roof
  2. Pests
  3. Plumbing work
  4. Cooling and heating systems
  5. Water pressure and temperature
  6. Cell phone reception
  7. Natural light and ventilation
  8. Condition of the furniture and fixtures
  9. Electrical outlets and wiring
  10. What appliances are provided and what is their condition
  11. The number and condition of smoke detectors and other safety equipment
  12. The condition of doors and windows
  13. Security features of the apartment

Your neighbors:

In apartment complexes, the units are in close proximity. Apartment units have shared walls, lobbies, and common spaces such as staircases, elevators, parks, and other amenities.

So, it is important to know your neighbors. Speak to the neighbors before finalizing an apartment.

This will help you to get to know the neighbors as well as get crucial information about the landlords, actual living conditions in the apartments, and any maintenance issues that exist. 

The condition of the common areas:

Apart from the interiors of your unit, the common areas also play a significant role in your apartment’s living experience.

Notice how well the common areas such as the walkways, staircases, elevators, parking spaces, gardens, etc. are maintained. Also, check out how the garbage is disposed of or treated. 

The neighborhood:

While you must have heard a lot about the neighborhood, it is essential to experience it firsthand before you rent an apartment.

Analyze how safe the neighborhood is, the noise level in the area, what are the conveniences nearby, and what the commute to work feels like. 

How to choose between two apartments?

Choosing between two good options can be difficult for renters. Most of us generally compare the rent and amenities of each apartment and make the decision, while we neglect the value they offer. An apartment decision matrix is the best tool to compare two apartments and choose the best fit.

The apartment decision matrix

The apartment decision matrix is a simple spreadsheet with various elements and their assigned weights.

It helps you to compare various apartments based on their individual value rather than a plain comparison of rents and amenities

You can create the apartment decision matrix from scratch using excel or google sheets, or you can download the template from websites like Dwellsy and use them to create your apartment decision matrix. 

How to prepare an apartment decision matrix 

  • To prepare the apartment decision matrix, first, you have to list out the basic factors that are important to you. Some elements in the apartment criteria checklist  can be 
  1. Monthly rent
  2. Size of the apartment
  3. Layout and design
  4. Lease Duration
  5.  Pet Policy
  6. Guest policy
  7. Light and ventilation
  8.  Outdoor spaces
  9. Furniture 
  10. Appliances
  11. Neighborhood 
  12. Proximity to various conveniences such as grocery stores, supermarkets, public transit stations, etc. 
  13. Safety and Security
  14.  Commute to work
  15. Community amenities
  16. Central Ac/heating
  17. Subletting options
  18. Renewal terms
  19. Cost of security deposit
  20. Water pressure     

You can also include other elements based on your lifestyle and preferences. An apartment decision matrix can have up to 40 elements. The lower the elements, the easier it is to compare and decide. Experts suggest that you should shortlist your apartment selection criterion and choose 20 top-priority elements for your matrix. 

  • The second step is to assign a weightage to each element based on your priorities. For example, if the apartment size is significant in decision-making, you assign it a higher value. Then compare all the elements based on your priorities and assign them accordingly. You can assign the highest value of 5 and go down based on your priorities. 
  • The third step is to compare the different options and rate them based on how they satisfy your preferences. Every apartment must be analyzed carefully on how close they fulfill the criterion and rated accordingly. For example, if an apartment is 2000 square feet and your criterion is above 1500 square feet, you have to assign the full value to the parameter. 
  • The fourth step is to calculate the weighted score by multiplying the value with the weightage assigned for each element. It can be done automatically if you are working on a spreadsheet or manually if you are working with pen and paper. 
  • The final step is to compare the weighted scores and make the final decision. 

Everyone dreams of living in their dream home. Finding a perfect apartment in your preferred neighborhood, with all your priority amenities, and within your budget is a difficult job. 

The three major factors to consider before finalizing an apartment are your budget, preferred neighborhood, and amenities.

Once you factor in these 3 elements, you can start searching for the right apartment. 

When faced with the dilemma of choosing between two or more apartments, you can use the apartment decision matrix.

The matrix helps you to identify the top-valued features and amenities and choose the best apartment that offers the best value. 

Before finalizing an apartment to rent, you have to necessarily examine the lease, take a physical tour of the apartment, notice the surroundings, and interact with the neighbors to assess whether the apartment really offers what is advertised.  

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