20 Oft-Forgotten Things to Think About When Apartment Hunting

apartment
credit: Twenty20

If there's one thing we know, it's that the perfect apartment is almost impossible to find — at least in the big city. But you should still look into every aspect of a place in order to properly weigh its pros and cons. You may feel silly or over-the-top inspecting a space in the manner described below, but take it from us: At the end of the day, the place you call home has an incredible effect on you. It can dictate your peace of mind and happiness. So even if the apartment you pick doesn't meet all of the following standards (as it likely won't), you'll at least fully know what you've getting yourself into — no surprises here.

1. When standing in silence, what do you hear?

Do you hear the lobby door crash closed? The ping of an elevator? People slamming their mailboxes closed? Throughout the hustle and bustle of walking through the apartment, these sounds are easy to miss, but come nighttime when everything is still, they'll be amplified times 50.

2. Do the building's tenants like living there?

Once the leasing agent or landlord is no longer around, find a neighbor to ask about the pros and cons of living there.

3. Who would live next door to you, and do their balconies offer any insight?

balconies
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If you've taken a liking to an apartment, ask whoever is showing it to you who the neighbors are. As in, are they a family with kids? Retirees? A bachelor? And then, to get a better sense of what they're like, just take a (subtle) peek at their balcony (if there is one).

4. Is the supposed locked front lobby door actually locked?

If security measures are important to you, a locked front lobby is the golden ticket. It may sound extreme, but yank at the lobby door to see if it's actually locked. You may be paying a premium for an apartment with a "locked lobby" whose door is actually always propped open, or is so old that it opens with a light yank.

5. How loud is the AC?

You obviously know to ask if there's AC, but don't just assume that it's a quiet unit. If you're allowed to, be sure to actually turn it on to find out. Stick around long enough to hear if it switches gears, and how loud that whole process is, too.

6. Do you fit under the shower head?

shower
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If not, is the landlord ok with you installing a new one?

7. How's the water pressure?

Please be that person who turns on all the showers and sinks — we're not judging.

8. Does the sink have a garbage disposal?

sink
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Not all kitchen sinks do, as it turns out.

9. Can intruders easily break into your windows or balcony?

If you have safety concerns, be sure to look into this for the sake of your peace of mind.

10. Do the building's exterior staircases have blind spots?

stairs
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If the building you're looking at doesn't have a locked front lobby, it may have staircases that are open to the public leading up to each apartment door, motel-style. If you're standing at the bottom of the stairs, can you see the front door to your apartment, or is there the opportunity for someone to be lingering out of sight? If you're going to have a pang of fear every time you're headed up to your apartment door, that's just not a healthy headspace to be in — so be sure to stay in tune with what makes you feel comfortable.

11. Have you looked into crime?

Be sure to look at crime information for the area if it's of concern to you. Some cities have maps so interactive that they show you the dates and times of every crime that has happened on each street. You can also check out the sex offender registry here.

12. Have those working in your building been background checked? Ask.

It's easy to assume that the maintenance person at your building every day has been properly cleared by management, but especially if you have kids, this is something you shouldn't assume. You'd be surprised by the people who get to work in and around your home just because they're "friends" of the owners or "trusted" by them.

13. Look down at your phone. Can you make calls, and are texts going through?

Having to leave your apartment just to make a simple phone call would be a real bummer.

14. Have you opened the fridge?

kitchen
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It may smell like a corpse. We're just sayin' — we're still haunted by some of the fridges we've smelled while apartment hunting. Also, you may notice that the fridge doesn't have an ice maker — that's an easy one to miss.

15. Have you made sure all the windows open?

apartment
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You don't want to learn on a sweltering day that your windows have actually been painted shut.

16. If time allows, have you driven by the apartment at night?

Who's lingering around? Is the area properly lit? Do you feel safe?

17. If utilities are included, have you asked if all are included, or just some?

This is how they get ya!

18. Is there parking for your friends and family?

You may have an assigned parking spot, but if the streets surrounding the place are constantly crowded or require some sort of parking permit, your friends and family may become turned off of visiting often.

19. Is the building rent controlled?

Certain cities offer rent control, and they have sites that you can plug your potential address into to find out.

20. So the building has laundry, but is it up to your standards?

Does it look like there are enough machines to serve the whole building, or will you constantly be waiting in line? Are the rates outrageous? Do the machines look old and grimy?