Finding the right apartment can be rough, particularly if you’re moving to a new city or area for the first time. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 simple steps you can take to ensure you find an apartment to call home.

Choose the right location

It’s all about balance. It might sound great to live in an amazing downtown loft with skyline views, for example. But if you work in the suburbs, you might spend more time driving to work and back than you do enjoying the amenities around your apartment.
Or vice versa. Maybe you work downtown, but would rather live where housing is a bit more affordable. If you don’t have a car, a cities walk score can also factor into the decision.
It makes sense to weigh these details against each other to determine which location strikes the best balance of access, cost and commuting concerns for your needs.

Find the right floor plan

Many apartment hunters gloss over this one because their focus is on location. You’re going to spend a significant amount of your daily life in your apartment. It makes sense to find a floor plan that meets your minimum comfort concerns.
Do you prefer a kitchen that is open to the living room, or are you okay with a smaller kitchen in favor of larger bedrooms? How many bedrooms do you need? How much square footage are you comfortable with? What’s the price per square foot (monthly rental rate divided by total square footage), and how does it compare to the average in the area (this may require some research)? Are you comfortable with people living above or below you?
Take these details into account. Rentler has great search filters to simplify this task and make it less overwhelming to sort through potential properties.

Identify potential problems up front

We’ve touched on this a bit in the first two steps, but let’s take a quick moment to clarify: every living space has an individual combination of advantages and drawbacks to take into account.
Little things that might drive you insane could be totally fine for someone else. It’s worth it to take a minute and write down any pet peeves you can remember from your previous renting experiences. For example, maybe you don’t like to walk a long way to the mailboxes. Or perhaps scraping the ice off your car in winter makes you want to immediately retreat back inside. All those little details can be examined before you decide to rent, and can go a long way in making sure you’re happy at your new place.
Whatever your individual concerns, spend some time in the space listening for noise and examining the little nuances of the place, if possible. Or come back and see it again at a different time ( the evening or morning, for example) to get a better feel for potential noise levels. Walk through your daily routine in your head while you’re there to see if the space brings any indirect problems to the surface.

Get to know the area

So you’ve narrowed your search down to the right balance of location, layout, and cost. Awesome! But how familiar are you with the area? Have you spent time there at night? Do you know what unique amenities are close by?
Double check to be sure you have access to whatever specific amenities matter to you. These could be fitness gyms, martial arts studios, or restaurants. Ask around for recommendations. Spend the day in the area shopping, having lunch and checking out your surroundings after dark to ensure safety.

Do your due diligence

Found what looks to be your winner? Then you’ve got one more step to ensure perfection. Read the lease carefully and ask questionsResearch the landlord online to determine their reputation. Take some time to knock on your potential neighbors’ doors to ask questions if you feel comfortable. You’ll often discover that people are more than willing to share what’s great and not so great about living there.
This will also provide a good sense of what to expect from your surrounding community. A quick safety note, be sure to take a trusted friend or family member along for the door knocking.

Summary

The right apartment will meet your unique combination of needs, and you’ll probably be happy you spent the time really hunting to find the right spot. It’s okay to be picky, but also important to be realistic.
To find your next home, check out Rentler’s up-to-date listings that are easy to search and apply to!