What to Look For in a First Apartment

first apartmentWhen I got ready to rent my first apartment with my then-fiance, I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what to look for in a first apartment. Things with the first apartment turned out fairly well, which is surprising considering my lack of knowledge and the disaster that was going on in my personal life as I got married and then divorced in less than a year while still living in that first apartment.

Despite all that, or maybe because of it, I learned a lot about life, love, and apartment hunting that year and I was able to do much better when I got ready to pick out my next apartment at the end of my lease.

Here are a few things I learned the hard way, but you should know before you go hunting for your first apartment.

Your Realistic Budget and The Market

When my fiance and I started looking for our first apartment, we had a budget of $600/month in mind for a 1-2 bedroom apartment. (Where we came up with that I have no idea as neither of us actually had a written monthly budget.) After viewing nearly 30 properties and making calls all over town, we realized that this was definitely on the low end for an apartment in our college town.

Luckily, after looking for a few weeks we were able to find an apartment with utilities included for $620/month.

If I could do this over again, I would have a better idea of what I could reasonably afford because I would have a written monthly budget for all of my money, much like I do now. I would also do some research to find out what the going-rate for apartments is in the community.

Check Up on Property Management Company

The property management company I ended up renting that first apartment from was a nightmare to deal with. They managed a lot of property in the town and it was clear that they had more than they could adequately manage. When I moved in I was told the apartment had already been cleaned, and yet it was disgusting! I ended up cleaning it myself and then when I left at the end of the lease I cleaned it very well and still had to forfeit most of my deposit as it wasn't up to their "standards."

Additionally, I had to have them come in for repairs and maintenance twice that year due to normal wear and tear. Despite the fact that things broke/wore out from normal use I was charged a huge amount for the repair. Rather than fight with them about it after I'd already moved out (as one of them happened the last week of my lease), I just paid the fee.

These are all reasons why you should check up on the property management company to find out their reputation before you rent your first apartment.

Decide What You Can and Can't Live Without

Due to my tight budget for that first apartment, I had to go without some things I never thought I'd miss. I had no dishwasher that year. I know, I know #firstworldprobs, but I seriously missed having a dishwasher! I also had a terribly scary spot in the wood floor in the living room where the sub-floor was rotted through so the floor sagged quite a bit.

Another thing I had to put up with was not having a door to my bedroom. I never thought about it until after I moved it, but a door would've been nice since the bedroom was right off the kitchen.

If I could do it over again I'd make a list of my "must haves" and some things I'd like but could live without. This list proved useful when I rented my second apartment as it had both a bedroom door and a dishwasher. 🙂

The biggest lesson here is to do your research well ahead of time before you rent your first apartment so you know what to expect. Talk to some of your college friends who already live in an apartment to find out about rental rates, property companies, and more. You should also do some research online to find out more about the property company you are renting from.

Where ever you are in the world, whether you are looking for Yorkville condos for rent in Toronto or even apartments for rent in Winnipeg, looking for someplace to live takes time, some serious digging, and knowing exactly what you want (location, size, cost).

Live and learn I guess! 🙂

Have you ever rented an apartment? What did you learn by renting your first apartment?


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3 thoughts on “What to Look For in a First Apartment

  1. It sounds like your market is similar to ours here in New York... and I'll be looking to move soon too.

    I think we do it a similar way -- figure out what are the things we can't do without, what our max budget is, and then prioritize our preferences from there. Sadly, luck seems to be the biggest factor here

    1. Kayla

      Post author

      Luck is definitely involved in the process of apartment hunting. Good luck Mario!

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