In the market for a new apartment? If so, it’s essential to do your due diligence before signing an apartment lease. Lest you forget, a year is a long time.
Most recently, I have a memory burned into the back of my mind of when my mom came along with me to check out a few apartments. She started checking the appliances, and I said, “Mom, you don’t need to do that, I’m sure everything is fine,” as her hand rested on the faucet she was about to turn on. Lo and behold, I later signed for that very apartment, and I was all moved in and turned on the faucet… and got no hot water. I can just picture my mom in my mind saying, “See, Megan? I told you so.”
(P.S. – If you haven’t realized it yet, your mom is right 99% of the time. Just admit it and move on.)
With that said, there are a few things you should know as you go apartment shopping. In addition to thoroughly scouring the lease before you sign it to determine things like pet policies, opt-out clauses and whether you can have roommates, be sure to keep your eyes open for these eight things at each apartment you check out:
Does the oven work? Is it filthy?
Even if you’re not a four-star chef, chances are you’ll be cooking food occasionally at your new place. Who knows? You might even decide to try your hand at cooking even more than you do now.
Make sure the oven has been cleaned and is in operational condition. How frustrated would you be to try to cook your first meal at your new place only to learn the oven doesn’t work?
The water’s running? That’s great.
Now, make sure you can draw both hot water and cold water. Your dishes and clothes probably won’t get as clean with cold water.
Plus, you never want to experience the brutal reality of a cold shower first thing in the morning before work.
Speaking of the shower, you’re also going to want to see how powerful the water pressure is and whether the space itself is to your liking.
If you’ve ever showered with extremely low water pressure, you probably know those experiences leave something to be desired. Turn on the shower and let the water run for a minute or two to get an idea of the water pressure you’d enjoy.
Are the sinks in the apartment big enough? Are they clean? Do they drain well?
There’s no sense in settling for an apartment that has sinks you don’t like or that don’t function properly.
Does your potential new apartment have gas heat or electric heat? Does it even have heat in the first place?
What about air-conditioning? Is there central air or would you have to install window units?
Whatever the case may be, make sure you’ll be warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer. Who wants to be uncomfortable at their own place?
When you step inside an apartment you’re considering, train yourself to immediately notice how many windows there are. Just like plants depend on sunshine for sustenance, we humans do too – vitamin D.
You’ll also want to spend some time opening and closing the windows to make sure that they move easily. Imagine being unable to crack a window on your first night.
You’re probably more likely to go check out an apartment during the day than at night.
What happens if you’re moving into a building that’s across the street from a club that hosts live music six nights a week? There’s no way you’d be able to gauge the nighttime noise level at 1 p.m.
To get a good idea of how loud it gets at night, ask the current tenants or some nearby neighbors. Better yet, head to the area at night to hear for yourself just how loud the noise levels can get.
Try to also notice whether the walls are paper thin and if you can hear any footsteps above – assuming you’re not on the top floor. The last thing you want is to sign a yearlong lease only to realize you are living next to an aspiring flutist who plays in a way that enables you to hear every note.
You’ve got to clean your clothes somehow.
Be sure to take a look at the washer/dryer combo that’s hopefully sitting in your potential new apartment. Find out whether they work, how well they work, how old they are and the last time they were serviced.
If you don’t have machines in your apartment, chances are they’re somewhere else in the building. Take time to find them and check them out. If, for example, they’re in the basement and you’re on the sixth floor, consider how much of an inconvenience doing laundry might become.
If your building doesn’t have a washer/dryer, find out where the nearest Laundromat is. Don’t sign a lease if it’s too far.
Once your potential apartment passes muster, feel free to sign on that dotted line and start packing. Your new home and new life await.