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  • Julianna Sweeney

The Complete Apartment Hunting Checklist

Moving is one of the most exciting and simultaneously stressful things you can do.

Tyler and I are in the process of moving down to San Diego and have been on the hunt for a place for a few months now. It can be really daunting - especially if you're moving to a completely new area (in our case, across the country to an area that neither of us had been before 2 weekends ago).

We've made a few mistakes and realizations along our way so far. To help you save time and de-stress the process as much as possible, I've put together a checklist of things you'll want to keep in mind for your hunt...

Apartment hunting Checklist:

1. Determine your preferred move-in date and whether or not you have wiggle room

First and foremost, you're going to want to determine when you'd prefer to move-in to the new place. You're also going to want to determine whether or not that date is flexible. Depending on the location and where you are looking, the more flexible you are, the easier it will be to secure a unit.

2. Determine your budget and what your cap is

One of the most important aspects of anything is outlining your budget. What is the preferred amount that you'd like to be spending on rent and utilities per month and what is your absolute cap. This will help you to stay away from the locations that are out of your budget without a second thought and just help to streamline the search in general.

3. Write out a list of non-negotiables

What are your non-negotiables? For Tyler and I, that looked something along the lines of we want great walkability, in-unit washer/dryer and air conditioning. This helped immensely in terms of narrowing the search even more. We aren't even going to consider a place without those things. What are your non-negotiables?

4. Be clear with the type of area and the type of unit you want to live in

You want to be as clear as possible with the type of area you want to live in. Does that look like the downtown of a city? Or a suburb? Maybe even the beach? And then you'll have to ask yourself if you want to live in a big complex, a condo, a rental house, townhome, smaller community, etc. Once you've decided on these key factors, you'll be just about ready to start reaching out to some places!

5. Make sure you or someone you trust physically visits the area before-hand

The last thing you're gonna want to do is find some places online that you really like and then actually go or send someone you trust to go and look at them in person. There were a few places that Tyler and I were dead set on before we actually went down to San Diego and saw them in person. Whether it's the complex or the unit itself or just the surrounding area, virtual tours and street views are no replacement for seeing it for yourself in-person.

6. Make sure you reach out to the locations ahead of time and ask these key questions:

It's finally time to start reaching out to the places you like and ask them all the important questions. Through a lot of trial and error, advice and research, this is the comprehensive list we compiled to send out to all of the places we're interested in.

  • What utilities are included in the rent vs. what am I responsible for separately?

  • For utilities that we are responsible for separately, how do we go about paying for them?

  • Is there an in-unit washer/dryer?

  • Is there central air/heat?

  • Is the oven/stove gas or electric?

  • What is the parking situation like?

  • What is your policy on painting/redecorating?

  • How much is the security deposit? How much are the application fees?

  • What are the lease length options?

  • What floor(s) are the available units on?

  • What are our options for paying rent?

  • How do you handle maintenance requests or emergency repairs?

  • What is security like?

  • When were the buildings built/renovated?

  • Do you allow pets? If so, how much is the pet deposit/fees?

  • What amenities are included in rent?

I hope this checklist helps you and your significant other/roomate(s)/sibling(s)/family on your moving journey! The market is crazy right now, but don't be discouraged - keep the faith, a positive attitude and have some fun with it! Get excited, you're goin' places.

Best of luck with your move!

Sending love always,


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