One of the most important decisions you can make in your life is where you choose to live. Everyone wants to be able to come home to a place they can relax in, feel proud of, bring friends to, and most importantly, feel safe in. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, with all of the transitions happening in my life, I have found myself looking around for places on a few different occasions.
Today, technology has made it easier than ever to scope out potential places to live. Sites like Trulia, Realtor, ApartmentRatings, and even Craigslist have all provided resources for you to start a search for your ideal place to live. However, the purpose of this post is not to serve as a database of resources. I wanted to write this post to outline a few tips that I have learned in all of my home hunting that will hopefully be helpful to you in your search, as well.
1. Know what you can (really) afford.
This might sound like common sense, but more often than not, the prices you see on any of the various searching sites like the ones above do not reflect the total cost of living. Even for places that boast ‘all utilities included,’ most of the time there will be more costs associated, such as renter’s insurance, cable, and internet. Figure out a ballpark figure of how much these extra utility costs will be, along with water, gas, and electric bills if they are not included. Tack all of that onto the base rent, and then you will really know if you can afford a place. At my current apartment, none of our utilities were included, and we are also paying extra fees for parking—when all is said and done, there is probably an extra $400 or so tacked onto our base rent. You do not want to find yourself in a position where you are unable to pay your bills—don’t neglect to factor in these extra monthly costs!
2. Read reviews, schedule tours, and ask questions.
Another function of the sites listed above is to provide a place for current tenants to post reviews. Try to do as much reading as you can so you can become aware of any potential issues that people are having with maintenance, management, safety, etc. However, with online anonymity, one can never be completely sure that competing landlords aren’t flooding sites with bad reviews of other complexes to make themselves look better. To try to combat this, make sure you are getting your info straight from the horse’s mouth. Schedule tours and check things out for yourself. If there are any issues brought up in reviews or that you see in-person, make sure to directly approach the leasing officer or manager giving you your tour about them. Hopefully you will be able to feel out whether or not they are being honest and sincere with you. This can prevent a huge amount of headaches and stress that could arise if these were not addressed.
3. Start your search in as far advance as possible.
So you did the math and figured out exactly what you can afford. You’ve done your research and found a few potentially great places that meet your budget and living needs. You call the leasing offices only to find out they are completely occupied. If you are in a situation where you are trying to find a place fast, this is obviously the worst news you can get. However, if you’ve given yourself enough time, more than likely something will open up in the time before you have to move out of your current place. This can save you a lot of heartache. In some circumstances, you still might find that even if you’ve given yourself a few months in advance, there still might not be any vacancies available. That is simply out of your control—but don’t let that perfect place slip away because you’re only giving yourself a 2-week or month window to move!
With all that to say, if you are currently looking for a new place to call home, I wish you the best of luck. Trying to find a place to live that meets all of your needs can be extremely frustrating and unfortunately the stars won’t always align, but hopefully if you’ve taken the above precautions, you will be much more likely to find and secure your own personal paradise. When that day does come, you know that TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® can help get you there. Bon voyage!