Questions to Ask Yourself When You're Apartment Hunting

Whether you’re shopping around for a car, job, pet, electrician, masseuse, or spouse, you should always start the process with a list of criteria that are most important to you. An apartment search is no different.

Before you start apartment-hunting, and winter is the best time to start looking in Davis for the next academic year, you’ll want to nail down some important criteria. Thursday Pass has a list of 20 questions you should ask yourself and answer before you start apartment shopping. Defining what is important to you in a Davis apartment is an important first step that will help guide your search.

Here are some of the issues you should consider:

1. Size  – First, determine what size of apartment or house you require. Generally, you want one bedroom per person, though couples or children can share. College students may save money by splitting a room…Also consider the size of the other rooms. Is the bathroom tiny? Is there room for a dining room table or your piano/pool table? Another consideration is the type of building the apartment is in. Is it a house divided into several apartments? A two-story complex surrounding a pool? A skyscraper? A duplex or townhouse? A loft? These factors will affect the noise level, sense of community, and ease of access, among other issues.

2. Price is another concern. Look at local listings, including Craigslist, to discover what normal rent prices are for your area…Also, some parts of town may be more expensive than others. Decide on a price range that you can afford, and don’t forget to consider the cost of utilities and gas to get to work/school. The standard rule is that rent should not be more than 30% of your monthly income. Remember that you will probably have to pay the first (and sometimes last) month’s rent and security deposit, along with start-up fees for utilities, shortly before or shortly after moving in.

3. Location – you’re going to be living in this apartment for a while, so consider the location. Is it easy to get in and out? Is it close to school/work/the grocery store? Is the neighborhood safe? Will there be a problem with noise/light? (No one ever considers whether a street light will be shining in their window, but I suggest that you take a look around) Even if the immediate street looks safe, take a drive around. I once lived on a pretty nice-looking street, but only a few streets away was a pretty bad neighborhood, and my car eventually got broken into. Try visiting the place during the day, during the evening, and on the weekend. Your street may look quiet on Tuesday morning but turn into party central on Friday nights. Also consider your apartment’s location in the larger building. Is it on the second floor? Around back? Near the entryway, where other tenants will be tromping past, or over your head, at all times of day and night?

4.  Utilities – Find out if you will be responsible for utilities, and which ones. Ask how much the utilities usually are per month. Also find out if you have gas heat. This can get very expensive in the winter, and many rental homes, especially those students frequent, are poorly insulated.

5. Pets – If you have a pet or intend to get one, find out your landlord’s rules on pets. Some landlords don’t allow pets, and others require hefty pet fees and deposits or limit the type, size, or number of pets you can have. Find out before you move in.

There are 15 more fabulous questions you should ask yourself before you start your Davis apartment search. Your perfect home is out there. Prioritizing your living criteria is the important first step you need to take in order to find it.