7 Things To Do Before the Apartment Search Begins
CHECK YOUR CREDIT
It is definitely a great idea to check your credit. Checking your own does not in any way affect your credit score. This can give you an idea of whether or not you may have a deposit or if there are any outstanding rental collection issues that might hinder your ability to rent an apartment. Most apartment communities will run your credit report so this is a great way to not go into the application process blind.
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Budget. Budget. Budget. I can't say this enough. This will help you knock out a significant amount of communities right off the bat. Figuring out how much you can afford is one of the first things you should do as this is going to be the amount that you are paying for a period of time. Consider all things that you would have to get separately, such as utilities, renters insurance and so forth and also consider rental increases at renewal time. Leave yourself some room for rent growth.
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RESEARCH YOUR COMMUTES & NEIGHBORHOODS
How far away from work and things you do on a daily basis do you want to be? Do you want to be in traffic like that every day? Probably not. One of the most elementary things that you can do that can be of the biggest help is to mark your work on a map and create a radius of however many miles you believe you can tolerate to get places. That. That is where you should look. If you're me it would be like two miles but maybe you can handle traffic better than me. Also, if you are in a city that has neighborhoods, where would you like to be and where do you see yourself? If you aren't comfortable from the start, you aren't going to be comfortable throughout the lease. Get out and do some explorations. One of the best ways to know if you want to be somewhere, especially if you have never been there before, is to experience it. So get out and hoof it or have lunch somewhere there. Do some sort of activity and make sure that's where you feel you are at home.
DECIDE ON YOUR MUST HAVES
Do you need to have a pool? A 24 hour gym? A dog park? A Starbucks within walking distance? A concierge? What things are so important to you that all other places should be crossed off for lack of having them.
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DECIDE ON HOW LONG
Do you need a short term lease or would you prefer a longer lease? Keep in mind shorter leases are usually more expensive so make sure to take that into account when budgeting.
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DO YOUR HOMEWORK
One of the great ways to get a heads up, if you will, of a community is by reading what others have to say. However, and I do mean a huge however, consider that sometimes more people are apt to leave a review when angry vs. when happy. There was a great blog posted by another Camden blogger last year on this very subject. It's definitely something to keep in mind when looking at online reviews.
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GET A LIST OF QUESTIONS READY
Preparation is key. Prepare for your tours at the communities that you ultimately decide on visiting by getting together a list of questions that are important enough to you so that you don't forget them. Your leasing consultant will engage you in conversation and will be covering a lot of ground which can sometimes mean forgetting something you just knew you wanted to ask. So don't forget that list of questions.
TIP TIME: Don't get too many apartment communities on your list. They can start jumbling together and it can exhaust you. Five is a good max to have and don't you know? Top fives are so in. Also, look no more than around 60 days in advance for the best chances at availability and pricing.
P.S. Camden communities are an amazing place to start!