If you’re in the market for your first apartment, you may be feeling a little lost-and more than a little overwhelmed. How do you get started? What should you be looking for in an apartment? How do you check out a building?

Picture of Mom and Daughter hugging surrounded by packing boxes n new apartment.

So many questions, and we’ve got answers! Let E & G Employees FCU walk you through the apartment-hunting process from start to finish, and you’ll have the key to your new apartment faster than you thought possible.

Getting Started

Before you look at any apartments, make a short checklist of what you’re looking for in a rental. Create a list of features in order from most important, such as location or the minimum square footage, to least important, like a fireplace or extra washroom.

Next, crunch some numbers. Take a look at your monthly budget and determine the maximum amount you can afford to spend on monthly rent. This amount should also include all associated fees and utilities.

With your wish list and budget in hand, you’re ready to start looking for places to live. Check out rental listings on sites like Zillow or Rent.com, look up units in the local paper and/or ask friends and family if they know of any apartment vacancies in the neighborhood.

Once you’ve compiled a list of possible apartments, contact each landlord or property manager and start hunting!

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Take this handy guide along on your apartment hunts so you can make an informed decision.

 PriceFind out exactly what’s included in the quoted rental price. Will you be billed separately for utilities? Do you need to pay for a parking spot?

Check for any additional fees attached to this rental. Ask about the following:

  • Application fee
  • Background check fee
  • Association fee
  • Amenity fee

MaintenanceWho is responsible for general repairs and maintenance? What’s the procedure for submitting a request? What’s the estimated response time?

Decoration policy

Will you need permission before hanging a picture or painting the walls?

Apartment locationIs the apartment near a popular café or bar? Is it close to a busy intersection or highway? Is there public transportation available nearby?

Common areasAre the common areas in the building kept clean and in good condition?

Noise levelWhen checking out an apartment, listen for the noise level that filters in from surrounding units.

General condition of apartmentFlush the toilets, run the sinks and showers, check out the electric sockets and try out the windows. Make sure everything is in perfect working order before you sign the lease.

Cellphone receptionMake a phone call while you’re checking out the apartment to see if you’ve got good reception.

SEALING THE DEAL

Before you sign a lease, follow these final steps.

First, get the contact info of another renter in the building. Ask your reference to clear up anything you’re unsure about regarding the building or the neighborhood.

Next, read through the lease very carefully. Check for hidden fees, lease renewal and termination policies as well as rent collection procedures.

Finally, if everything checks out, you’re ready to sign. Best of luck in your new home!