Apartment Hunting Advice from the Trenches

We’re big believers in listening to the voice of experience. Tandem Properties recently asked their tenants to share insights that they wish they’d known when they first went apartment hunting. Because winter is prime apartment hunting season in Davis, we wanted to share some highlights below.

We hope this gives you some food for thought and helps you focus your apartment search efforts.

  • I wish I would have known that ALL lease-holders’ individual “rental history” can be affected for 7 years if one person on the lease is late in rent payment!
  • My advice would be to be sure to speak up about what you want. My freshman year, one of our roommates wasn’t happy with the apartment we’d picked but she didn’t say anything until the day we were supposed to sign the lease. Communicating with your roommates is so important to living well together. Keeping things in only creates more problems.
  • I would have liked to know that there are roommate programs available, like the ones at Adobe.
  • I would have liked to know about all the different types of apartments (not just 1/2 bedrooms) but townhouses, houses, upstairs downstairs it was so overwhelming
  • What facilities are offered, what bus lines are located nearby, what bike paths are available, what markets are nearby.
  • Maintenance workers are your best friends. Anyone who will come unclog your toilet, deserves a standing ovation. In other words, living in a house means you are responsible for your own plumbing.
  • Read the lease before deciding, and look up reviews of management if there is a high cost security deposit!
  • Ask about which year the property was first built and when the property was renovated. This would let you know whether the property is well taken care of, more investments in property means they like taking care of their residents to live with the best equipped apartment. Have a chat with management, their enthusiasm can show you how future communications can be, especially when you are living there.
  • Couple things: first, make sure when you move in with your friends, acquaintances, etc to set boundaries about cleanliness (which is the number one thing I have dealt with and number on thing that causes issues between roommates!!). Second, make sure you have a set date when rent should be collected by everyone so it’s turned in on time and its not late. Third, realize that a lease is a legal contract and once you sign it your bound to it along with your roommates. If one of you guys don’t pay rent, get a noise violation, etc everyone including the individual is responsible! Last but not least, don’t rush in making a decision of where and who you want to live with! It’s an all year deal and you want to be comfortable and happy! 
  • Pest control is important, you do not want rats in your apartment. Be sure to ask how that works, if apartments do not have it, and are not competent to fix the problem, or any other problems you may have, you will be sad. For until the lease ends. Also, you will most likely visit furnished apartments, so you will have to imagine your own furniture in the rooms you visit, and how everything will fit. One more thing, sinks. Certain types of sinks are very shallow, and therefore makes it hard to wash stuff, especially baking pans. Just another item to think about when visiting apartments.
  • Examine the place and ponder if you would mind living here for 3 or more years. Unless you love moving that couch and bed up and down flights of stairs over and over, pick a place that you can safely assume to be pest-free, crime-free, quiet, and well-maintained. If it looks run-down, it probably is. Trust your gut, don’t sugarcoat what you’re seeing before your eyes. 
  • Most importantly, know who you’re going to move in with. Renting a solo apt? Perfect. You should know yourself best. If this is not the case, I suggest some quiet time with self-reflection. Maybe enjoy a cookie and some tea while you ponder on that, but I digress. Can you handle his/her quirks? Is he/she demanding/easily upset? Can you handle living with this person/these people for the next 3 years? It’s something to think about. Subleasing/finding a new roommate who you can trust to not “borrow” your favorite shoes/shirt/dress/Pokemon card/wallet may end up being a tough task. As is finding roommates who won’t let the trash bags pile up until it’s tall enough to actually become an avalanche hazard. I’m looking at you. Yes, you. You know who you are.
  • Determine if you can handle the rent! No, like seriously. Do the math again. I know you already did the math. I’m telling you to do it again. What if say, Bob, moves out? Can you shoulder the rent/utilities while you look for a replacement? If you can, make sure that you’re not on the hook for handling all the costs if someone leaves you high and dry. 
  • Try not to be overwhelmed. It really isn’t as difficult as it seems. It’s mostly common sense. If you like quiet, pick a place further away from the pool/party areas. If you like to party, be respectful of quiet hours. Etc, Etc.
  • Always check the reviews online because it helps out a lot! And then the rest is up to you 
  • Start looking for roommates and apartments early. If you go to the Davis housing fair on campus you get access to a lot of deals and get a feel for the general costs of renting. Also the earlier you start the more choices you’ll have and believe it or not most of the places will be gone by spring break. Last thing, I’ve loved living in Arlington so far
  • Really consider the Colleges at La Rue. Best bang for your buck in all aspects! And Trish=an angel.