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7 Apartment Hunting Tips All First-Time Renters Need To Know

7 Apartment Hunting Tips All First-Time Renters Need To Know

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There’s a lot to consider when starting the hunt for the perfect apartment to rent in Santa Monica. There are a lot of great options to choose from, and you have to factor in where you want to be, how much you can spend, and the type of floor plan that will best suit your lifestyle. There may be other factors to consider as well, including whether or not the apartment is pet friendly, how close it is to your school or office, and if they offer traditional apartments, co-living suites, or both. 


As you continue your search for the right Santa Monica apartment for you, keep these seven apartment-hunting tips in mind:  


Go In With A Budget In Mind 

Putting together a budget is something that you should do before you ever step into a potential apartment. Putting together an accurate analysis of your income and expenses will help you know how much rent you can afford. Without a budget, it can be easy to step into an apartment that blows you away and make an impulsive decision based on emotions instead of whether or not you can really afford it. 

Before you talk to anyone or take a tour, decide on the maximum amount of rent you're willing to spend and stick to it. Along with the rent, you may be responsible for moving costs, utilities, and other expenses.  


Have A List of Wants Vs. Needs 

Another way to avoid making an impulsive and emotional decision is by going into your apartment search with a list of wants versus needs. This is a detailed list of the things that you must have in a new apartment, and things that you would like but can live without.  


Things on your needs list include accessibility, number of bedrooms, pet restrictions, and proximity to where you work or go to school.  


Things that are nice to have but not necessarily required could include name-brand amenities, water views, patio/balconies, upgraded appliances, and smart home technology.  


Going into your apartment search with a clear vision of what you want versus what you need will help you quickly decide whether an apartment has what you need or not  


Connect With The Leasing Office 

Once you find an apartment that looks like it checks all the right boxes, it's time to connect with the leasing office. This is an important step because it gives you an insight into who is running the apartment community. If the people on the other line are friendly, patient, and eager to help you find the right apartment, chances are they'll be the same way when you live there. However, if you call the leasing office and get a bad vibe from the staff, it could be a red flag. If they're not friendly or helpful to someone interested in moving in, how friendly and helpful are they going to be to the people who live there?  


Explore The Neighborhood 

When you commit to an apartment you’re also committing to the area. The apartment may check all of the boxes, but if it's in a questionable area, too far from work or school, or doesn’t work with your lifestyle, it may not be a good fit. Explore the area by car, on foot, or by bike to see what is close by and how long your daily commute would be. This will give you a better idea of how the apartment will fit in with your lifestyle.  


Ask The Right Questions During The Tour 

If the apartment looks like it has all of your needs and most of your wants, is in your price range, and the leasing office seems knowledgeable, professional, and friendly, it's usually a good sign to schedule a tour. As you walk the grounds of the apartment complex, pay attention to:  


  • Small details like landscaping, and exterior paint.  

  • Noise levels and security  


When you're touring the actual apartment, perform your own self-inspection by  


  • Checking for water damage, mold, mildew, water stains, etc. 

  • Opening and closing the windows. They should be easy to open and each window should also have a screen. 

  • Checking that all doors open and close securely 

  • Bringing a charger and plugging it in to ensure that all electrical outlets are working 

  • Test all light switches and smoke alarms 

  • Ask if the apartment comes with fire extinguishers and how long until their expiration date. 

  • Verify that there are smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in most rooms and that they properly 


As you take the tour, you should be asking questions to make sure the apartment is a good fit for you. Some important questions you should have the answers to before you leave are:  


  • What are the lease terms? 

  • What is the rent and will it be raised? 

  • What do you need to do to move in? 

  • Are utilities included? And if not, how much are utility bills on average?  

  • What are the rules about pets, guests, and parking?  

  • What are the rules about roommates, subletting, and renters insurance?  

  • How do I file a maintenance request and pay rent?  


Have Your Paperwork In Order  

To reduce stress and move things along, it's important to have all of your documents easily available. Some of the documents you may be required to submit when you apply for an apartment include paystubs, bank statements, a credit report, and your ID. Having all of this ready and organized will help you finalize the details quickly.  


Learn To Read Your Leasing Contracts Carefully 

Take time to read over the contract before you sign anything. You can ask for a copy of the contract before you take the tour, and read over the fine print so you know exactly what you’re agreeing to. If you don’t understand some of the terms, ask your leasing agent to explain them to you until you do.  


Bottom Line  

Preparation is key when it comes to finding the right apartment. When you walk in with a predetermined budget, a list of wants and needs, and a clear understanding of the rules and expectations in the community, you can make an informed and confident decision. If you’re ready to end your apartment search, take a virtual tour of NMS 1539 Fourth today.

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