Like any other apartment hunter, you want to find an apartment that has what you need plus more, and at a rent you can afford. But for many, the thought of finding an apartment that fits the bill can be daunting, if not overwhelming.
Many apartment hunters aren't sure where to begin or wonder what they can do to accomplish their goal of finding the right apartment without taking up a lot of time and stress. Others worry that, after all is said and done, they'll sign a lease for an apartment that just isn't right for them.
Fortunately, if you identify with the above in any way, take comfort in knowing that there are ways you can get out of the dark and feel in control of your apartment search.
Recognize Apartment Hunting for What It Is
Part of what may induce fear when apartment hunting is the fact that you don't have a clear picture in your head of the apartment you want. Realize that it's for a good reason -- you can't. Even if you know exactly what you want in an apartment, there are still so many variables (floorplan, location, windows, storage, and so on).
With most other things, we're able to picture exactly what it is we want. For example, if you're trying to get into a certain college and you've visited that college, you can picture yourself there in your head. Similarly, if you're saving money to buy a product such as a computer, or bicycle, you know exactly what it looks like after having seen it in a store, at a friend's place, or online.
If this intangibility and uncertainty has caused you to feel a bit unsettled, realize that this is how it's supposed to go with apartment hunting. Run your apartment search with the confidence of knowing you'll recognize the perfect apartment when you see it.
Make 'Needs and Wants' Decisions Early
Decide the answers to questions about your wants and needs before you begin your apartment search, rather than as you go along. For example, is an apartment with two bathrooms worth it, or can you get buy with just one? If you opt for two bathrooms, can the second one be a half-bathroom? Do you currently own a pet or do you at least want to flexibility of knowing you can get one in your new apartment? If you plan to live alone, is it worth the extra rent for a one-bedroom apartment, or will a studio offer what you need?
Keep a Watchful Eye Out for Possible Scams
You'll also want to do your best to steer clear of scams. Unfortunately, there are some landlords who try to take advantage of innocent apartment hunters, and then there are people masquerading as landlords or brokers who may try to rent you an apartment they have no authority to rent -- or one that doesn't even exist!
Generally speaking, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Get familiar with red flags, such as being asked to give a lot of money upfront, especially in the form of wiring it to someone you haven't met. Apartment rental scams that succeed, at least for a while, typically do so because the scammer is able to take advantage of an unsuspecting apartment hunter's strong feelings of wanting to find a good apartment and end a long search. So, be sure not to let your emotions get in the way of recognizing signs of a scam.