What are you looking for in your new apartment?
When you start your apartment search, you are going to realize that there are hundreds of options on the market. In order to narrow down your search and make your apartment hunt as efficient as possible, there are a couple of factors you should consider before you begin. Thinking about these different aspects of your future home will help save time because you will easily be able to dismiss options that don’t fit your needs and also know where you are willing to compromise. For example, you may absolutely need an apartment that allows pets but you could live without air conditioning (although preferable).
Take a look at the criteria below to make sure you don’t forget anything. Also, if it comes down to your two or three favourite apartments and you don’t know which is best for you, check out our apartment pick tool to help you add up the pros and cons.
1. Square Footage
Before starting your search, you will most likely have an idea of how much space you would like to have in your new home. Sometimes, square footage is hard to judge when apartment hunting for the first time, so after you visit a couple of apartments, you should take note of the size to compare other search results. Eliminate the apartments that you know will be too small or are larger than necessary. Here are some examples of sizes you can expect.
2. Number of rooms
All apartments will have a fully or partially separated kitchen area and bathroom. How many bedrooms will you need? Are you interested in having a living room area where you can entertain guests? This is a big first step because once you know how many closed bedrooms you require, you can simply rule out anything with more or less rooms which won’t suit your needs.
3. Cost of Monthly Rent
Set a range within which you will be able to afford the monthly rent. Price of apartments can vary drastically depending on the location, facilities offered or even year built, but your desired rent price will stay fairly steady. If you don’t know what you can afford, take a look at your monthly income as well as your other expenses such as transportation, food, entertainment etc. Once you deduct your regular expenses from this monthly income, you should have a good idea of how much money you will feel comfortable spending on rent. If you are interested in building a personal budget, take a look at our Monthly Budget tool that will give you a simple and easy way of tracking your income and expenses, giving you realistic expectations of what disposable income you will be left with at the end of the month.
Some apartment buildings offer amenities that you would otherwise have to go elsewhere to receive such as gym facilities, a pool or laundry room. These are all common areas that are shared by the tenants and often are not open to the public unless as guests of someone living in the building. Expect that your monthly rent will be more expensive than a similar apartment without access to these types of facilities. The extra costs go towards regular maintenance and upkeep. How do these extra costs compare to your current gym membership?
Lighting is probably not something you would think of right away when choosing an apartment but the balance between natural and artificial lighting in your home can make a big difference. When you are looking for an apartment, try and go during the day to see how much sun comes through the windows. See what artificial lighting is currently available. You made find your new apartment gloomy otherwise or spend a fortune installing light fixture and lamps.
What are you looking for in your apartment? Stove and refrigerator tend to be fairly standard in apartments but are not always included when you first move in. You may also want a washer, dryer or dish washer. If your apartment does not come with these appliances you may want to ask if they can be inserted. Some apartments just won’t have the wiring or plumbing to be able install these appliances. Others will be easy to set up if you are willing to buy the appliances. If you do not have a washer and dryer in your apartment, ask about a shared laundry room in the building or find out where the nearest laundromat is located.
How far from work, school, grocery stores or other spots do you want to be? Setting your geographic boundaries is an important step in the apartment hunt. Knowing how far from a city center you can be can change where you look.
8. Access to transportation
If you don’t have a car, you should scout out how far away the nearest bus or metro is from your new home. Sometimes the apartment of your dreams could be a steal because the nearest public transportation is a half hour walk.
If you have a vehicle, then consider access to parking near your potential new home. Some buildings have indoor or outdoor spots that you can lease along with your apartment every month and others may require that you find parking on the street. This can become tricky in certain municipalities if there is restricted parking, parking requiring a permit or when snow fall can make narrow streets even more difficult to navigate. Don’t assume you can get a resident’s permit to park. Some municipalities only grant a limited number of these and you may be put on a waiting list.
10. Nightlife and entertainment
Before finalizing your neighborhood selection, you should take some time to discover the surrounding area you might be moving into. If nightlife, restaurants, cinema or other entertainment is important to you, it is something worth considering. If you are looking for a quiet spot, you may not want to be near the clubs. It’s up to you but check it out!
Many apartment buildings to do not allow pets and others have restrictions on large animals. Before making a final decision, make sure your new building is pet friendly if you have one. If you have strong allergies, you may want to choose a building that does not permit animals to make sure you don’t have any unwanted surprises because of the dog or cat living right next door.
If you are planning on bringing a barbeque with you to your new apartment ensure there is a balcony and that the building allows barbeques. On lower levels of a building smoke from a barbeque can be a nuisance for neighbours living in the floors above. Some landlords consider them fire hazards. Do your research carefully or you might not be grilling too many hot dogs this summer.
Some apartments have air conditioning units installed centrally in the building and others will require you to install a window unit. If you are interested in having AC, verify the potential location of installation of the unit, confirm that your landlord permits it, or ask if there are restrictions.
Having a security guard at the front of your building may be an amenity that appeals to you for a variety of reasons. Buildings with security guards tend to be higher in price but provide the extra peace of mind 24/7.
TIP: Use our apartment pick tool to help you add up the pros and cons.