Monday, March 25, 2013

Finding Apartments

This weekend we found out some exciting news: my best friend has the opportunity to move into our area! (YAY!) We don't know when/if it will happen yet, but you all know me, I get excited and have to start planning options.

The good thing is that if she does get a job and move up here she can stay with us until she finds a place that she loves. She has the benefit of not having to settle for something because she is in a hurry.

I've started thinking about what does a young, single woman in an urban area want or need in an apartment.

I lived alone before I met Nate (for about 5 months...) but I moved up here without knowing the area and just picked a place within a few days of living here. It was nice enough- I never had any problems, and I had a nice landlord, but it honestly wasn't in the best part of town and I didn't know any better when I signed the lease. So here are some things that I know if I was doing apartment hunting again these would be things that matter to me.

 1.) Does your landlord live in the area or is there maintenance on premise?

One of our apartments we lived in didn't have a landlord in the area and we were kind of floating alone in this little apartment. A tornado ripped through and it was Nate out on the deck trying to fix windows that had blown in even after calling our landlord 15,000 times. It was not a good situation and many problems went unfixed because of it.

2.) Is there laundry in-unit, or do you know somewhere nice that you can do your laundry?

We also lived in one place where there was laundry on site, but it was in the most inconvenient place on the whole site. There also wasn't anything to do in the laundry room so we'd just sit there and do nothing causing us to almost never do laundry. If you're willing to do this, good for you, but if I was going back to apartment living I would have to have in unit laundry.

3.) Do you want an apartment, a townhome, or a single family home.

There are perks of living in a single family home, like you're usually allowed to have pets, and you don't have to live with people surrounding you everywhere. There is also the downside of not having maitenance on site, having to keep up the lawn/snow removal and being alone. Access your priorities before you decide where you want to live.

4.) Location.

How close are you to work/school/friends, etc. The great thing about renting is it isn't a permanent residence. If you evaluate your budget and gas is going to be a problem, live really close to your work, etc. If you work in bad part of town, you don't have to live there!

5.) How flexible is the landlord?

They say people are more likely to stay somewhere that they can "make their own" so many landlords are starting to get better about allowing people to paint, making small changes, or improving their rental value. My sister rents right now and she hated the wallpaper in the house. She simply asked her landlord if she could take it down expecting it to be out of pocket and was surprised when the landlord paid for her to do it and let her pick the color to paint the walls after. It never hurts to ask!

6.) Is it pet friendly/is there a pet space? 

Seamus loved our balcony at our old apartment and he loved the woods on the property even more. We were able to go for walks in the woods and he would get time to stretch his legs without us worrying about him. If I was going to be living alone I would definitely have to live somewhere I could have a dog- if for nothing else other than a faux alarm system.

7.) Are there any amenities on site?

When you're living alone it is all about saving money. Does your apartment complex have a gym? Are you actually going to use it? If you aren't you better bet that you're paying for it anyway. And if you are, that's one less thing you need to pay for every month!

8.) Storage

My first apartment where I lived alone didn't have any storage. I kept my canned goods, linens, and camping stuff all in one closet. It was a two bedroom because I was planning on getting a room mate, but once I figured out I could afford it myself I ended up using the whole second bedroom as a closet. Where else are you going to put your Christmas tree?

9.) Parking

Especially in Michigan, having covered parking is a big deal. If you go with a single family home, talk to the landlord before you close to make sure you get access to the garage. Just because it's there doesn't mean it's yours.

10.) Does the apartment meet your must haves or your must wants?

Call me crazy, but Air Conditioning isn't negotiable during allergy season. While other people might consider this a "want" for me it is a "need". Would I rather have air conditioning or a washing machine? Air Conditioning, obviously. Make a list of everything you're looking for and prioritize it. It will help you down the line when you're picking a place.

Do you guys have any apartment hunting tips? How many have you lived in? We did 5 apartments in 3 years soooo we're pretty used to moving around! :)


  1. This is exciting! I'm not much of an apartment complex type of girl. All my favorite rentals have been houses and basement apartments. I hope it works out for you & her!

    1. I think my favorite by far was our townhome community because it felt like we had our own space. (It was a two story) I hope so too! Thanks!

  2. Say no to duplexes. You end up with the worst parts of single family homes and apartments, usually.

  3. Great tips! I don't miss the apartment life. But I think you need to experience apartment life to fully appreciate owing your own home!

    1. I totally agree! You don't understand how badly you want your own space until someone is telling you what you're allowed to do.

  4. Too bad you don't live here so I can crash with you! ;) I need the luxury of not being rushed to find a place ha! With 2 realtor parents, I'm wired to avoid renting. I lived in a dorm for 2 years and an apartment for 10 months that's the extent of my rental history.

    1. Lol if you guys lived in Michigan you'd be more than welcome to stay with us. Though not with Artie here...that'd be WAY too many dogs!!

  5. Great qualities to watch out for! Although, I would certainly want to know if the rentals also include some sort of home security in case of theft and fire. Also, if they offer rent insurance which I think is really helpful these days.


Please leave us a comment! We love to hear from you. We promise your comment will appear as soon as possible :)