Ah, moving season again. It seems like every year I’m moving into a new apartment. As an avid apartment dweller since 2002 I have seen many apartments – some good, some utterly horrible. Here’s some advice on how to save some money when looking for an apartment and just some general thoughts on the issue.
- Get your discount off of the rent. If you work for a major company (whether or not its a retail job or corporate job) any respectable apartment complex will offer a discount off your monthly rent. My fiance works for a major hospital and having told that to our new apartment managers, we’ll be getting about 5% off our monthly rent there, or about $34 per month. On top of that, we pay no deposit and no application fee – an automatic $200 savings.
- Read the reviews that other people leave about various apartment complexes. Granted, most people who bother to write reviews are disgruntled, you can at least get some idea of what’s going on. If I had read some reviews about my last apartment, I would have figured out a.) insulation is horrible and b.) carpenter bees are everywhere. If I had known this, I could have saved myself the $200 per month I was spending on gas heat – that’s for a one bedroom apartment (average around here is about $60 per month in the winter). Two sites I like to check out before renting are ApartmentRatings.com or ApartmentReviews.net both of which have a good list of apartments in your area.
- Newer is sometimes better, but not always. Newer complexes are generally better on the construction and the overall cost of utilities. They generally feature more energy efficient windows and appliances which can save you money on those monthly utility bills. However, not all new apartments are great. Some have very shoddy construction, poor insulation (between units mostly) and settling problems. If you visit those sites I listed above, people generally will mention something about it. Some older apartments I’ve been in were built in the days when quality was stressed over quantity – ah the good old days. Just keep your eye open when you go to look – look for cracks in the wall, baseboards that have exposed gaps (usually a sign of warped walls), bubbles in the laminate flooring, bugs (if they’re there now, they’ll be there when you move in), etc.
- You have to spend more to get more. If you go for the bargain, expect to be living with other people who can only afford that little rent. If you move into a complex that caters to college students, expect noisy neighbors. If you move to section 8 housing, expect your car to be broken into. If you want little to no problems, you have to spend more. I have generally found that people who spend more are usually more well behaved and courteous to their neighbors. All apartments have noise problems, but you can lessen it by going with something that has better construction and courteous neighbors.
- Look for an apartment with a decent fitness center. If you pay to go to a gym, an apartment with a fitness center is a big plus. Having it included in your rent basically saves you that monthly gym bill. Granted gyms are usually a lot better equipped than apartment fitness centers, you can still get your basic workout done. Think of the savings as another discount on your rent.
- Mind the Sun. If you’re in the south where it’s generally warmer in the winter months, chose an apartment that faces the northeast. If you’re in the north and have predominately colder weather, choosing a southwest or south-facing apartment is better. Why? A north-facing apartment gets less sun, therefore if you’re in the south, you’ll spend less on cooling. A south-facing apartment gets more sun so it heats up better which is good if you live in a cooler climate and want to save on that heating bill.
- Find out what utilities are before you move. Some utility companies will disclose the average utility costs for the unit or apartment complex you’re thinking of moving into. Give your local company a call and see if they can give you average rates – this helps with your budgeting for your new place.
That’s all the tips I can think of right now. I hope this has helped and I hope you save yourself some money and problems the next time you move.