Finding an apartment is a difficult undertaking. From college students searching for the first place to call their own to design enthusiasts hoping to find a diamond in the rough, everyone can empathize – no matter the budget or location – with the struggle that surrounds securing an apartment. Over the seven years I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve moved into five different apartments; let me assure you, metropolitan rental markets are intense. Each time, a little piece of my sanity breaks away.
It’s a process marked with compromise… you’ll never find exactly what you want (“The bathroom is just way too small”, “The kitchen doesn’t have natural light.”, “Five floors is too many to climb every day!”). Finding your perfect spot can certainly be a maddening experience.
For the first few years, it always started the same; I would wait until I only had 30 days to search, sign, and move into a new space. Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to make the process of finding an apartment a lot easier. And what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share these with you…
Before you hit the ground running, craft your dream apartment. You’ll want to know what you’re looking for so the search will be easier on both yourself and/or your roommates. Are you looking for a pet-friendly two-bedroom spot north of town? Do you desperately need an additional home office space? By cataloging your wish list (The Good), the things you don’t want but would compromise on (The Bad), and the absolute no-no’s (The Dealbreakers), you’ll jumpstart your search on the right foot.
Personally speaking, the search is the exciting part. I’m constantly browsing rental properties in cities like Portland or Nashville dreaming about the sliding door life I never lived – especially when I see the palatial spaces I could get elsewhere with my current New York rent. There are literally hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of rental search engines, but the only one I trust is Rent.com. It’s the only site where what you see is exactly what you get. Every listing on Rent.com has been verified as legit, so there won’t be any surprises. Plus, you’ll get to experience your favorite listings with 3D floor-plans and panoramic property tours, which will help ignite your natural knack for decorating.
WHO PAYS WHAT.
You found your dream spot? Congratulations! Before you sign a lease, give it a very thorough read. If you’re like me, you’d rather take a razor to your eyes than read through a lease, but it’s a necessary step. You’ll want to make sure you ask the important questions like: What amenities are included in your rent? Who pays for hot water, gas, and electricity? Are pets allowed? Can you have extra copies of your keys? Can you lock in your rent price if you sign a two-year lease? Questions will be imperative to understanding what you are and aren’t responsible for during the term of your lease.
TAKE THE FINAL TOUR.
Most leases will mention you are getting the apartment “as is” (hilariously, this is the actual language used). This doesn’t mean you’ll arrive to an apartment falling apart or steeped in squalor, but it does mean you need to take a very thorough inspection of the apartment. Take photos and make a list of any cracks in wall, scuffs on the floor, or other faulty elements. This will be helpful when you move out and attempt to retrieve your security deposit. Thankfully, sites like Rent.com offer listings verified as legitimate so you can rest assured your dream apartment can become a spectacular reality.
Every lease will detail what you can and cannot do when decorating your apartment. This isn’t black paint versus floral wallpaper – you’ll want to know what items are off-limits. Can you hang art on the walls? Are you allowed to DIY a light fixture? Personalizing your space can be the best part of moving, but ask the smart questions so you don’t face immediate eviction.
So you scored the apartment and you’re finally moving in – hallelujah! Like in your apartment search, making a list of the items you want or don’t want will help narrow down your creative vision. What’s your favorite color scheme? Which aesthetic will you employ – minimal, rustic, modern, or other? With the stress of your apartment search over, you deserve to have a little fun! … And if you’re looking for some inexpensive ideas when decorating, be sure to check out my previous post with some ‘Under $100’ home products I love.
Have any tips of your own? I’d love to hear them. Share them in the comments below and let’s get a conversation started!
This post was in partnership with Rent.com. All views and opinions expressed here are my own.
Second and fourth photos of my apartment taken by Claire Esparros of Homepolish.
Scout Sixteen is a lifestyle blog from Justin Livingston. Justin grew up in Mississippi but relocated to New York City in 2008. On Scout Sixteen, Justin shares his passion in fashion, travel, food and drink, and mental wellness.