I get it. You wanted to get the full college experience by staying in a dorm ordering pizza for the entire floor with your "emergency credit card" and throwing kick0-ass parties playing beer pong until you pass out and eventually wake up with a massive headache drooling vomitÂ uncontrollably.
BUT it's time for you to get out of there and see the world outside meal plans and "guest hours." Grow up, get an apartment and "pay the cost to REALLY be the BOSS." It's time to learn how to cook without the ever-so-reliable microwave and on a stove. And, no one wants to hook up with you while your roommate is snoring away in the same room. Honestly, the search for the "right" apartment is sort of like searching for a mate--sometimes you have to give up some of those demands to get something in return (knowimsayin'?). So sit down kiddos while I school you on how to find an apartment WITHOUT getting scammed.
1. What are you looking for?
Do you have roommates? How many? What neighborhood do you want to live in? Do you want to share a bedroom or a bathroom? Do you want a walk-in closet or a really big bedroom or both? Do you have your own furniture or do you need a furnished apartment? What amenities matter the most: gym, pool, tanning salon, basketball/volleyball court, covered parking, free parking and all that other fancy stuff? You get the point, right? Get together with your future roomies or just lonely ol' you to put down on paper what you're looking for in your penthouse suite...I meanÂ apartment.
2. How much can you afford?
Well this can certainly narrow down the neighborhood that you call home based on the commas in you or your papa's bank account. Please, be realistic. Nine times out of 10 it'll be a whole lot better than that jail cell...I mean horrific place you called home while living in the dorm. You'll be surprised what you can get in a college town for $500 a month or what you won't get for five bills. Either way, agree on a budget, and actually stick to it. Some apartments include utilities in the rent, while others don't. Don't get tricked into paying $500 rent + $200 in cable, water, electricity, internet and whatever else utilities include with a $500 budget. (As you can tell, my rent includes utilities suckaaaasss!) Also, if you have roommates, some apartments include all roommates in the rent, while others separate them between "individual leases"Â (which you will learn they are literally your best friend). Therefore, don't be alarmed when the complex wants $1500 a month and you have two other roommates;Â it may mean $500 per room or $1500 per room, but check out the fine print ALWAYS.
How close are you from school or work or however you spend your time? You definitely don't want to travel across town everyday to fulfill your day-to-day duties because time=$$$ and gas nowadays soaks up all your $$$, so yea, convenience is pretty, legit-ly important.
Do you have a car? Do you carpool? Do you ride the bus? Taxi, perhaps? Subway? (You obviously aren't in Texas.) Bike? Hoveround? The possibilities are endless when it comes to transportation, but when choosing your apartment of choice, you must consider how you will travel to and fro. Choosing something on the bus route isn't a bad idea especially when you factor in high gas prices (as you can tell, paying for gas isn't exactly my favorite past-time), and also the whole "save the planet" and decreasing traffic by piling up in one vehicle, be it bus, taxi, carpool, or plane (big balla')--they're all great alternate forms ofÂ transportationÂ (FYI).
5. Research online
You will be surprised at the good, bad, and ugly comments you'll find from former residents. They'll give you the real rundown without sugar-coating because they're probably out of there and just want to vent or boast about they're living experience. "How is maintenance?" is always a pretty big concern, "Are the apartments loud?" and the biggest, "How is management?" You can always ask around because not everyone vents on the net about their apartment experience; some just blast them word-of-mouth, which can actually be a whole lot worse. I found out I shouldn't live in my apartments that I signed my lease with by talking to upperclassmen, but I didn't listen and I am now very disappointed. So talk to people, search online, and definitely listen!
6. Visit apartments
If you don't visit your prospective apartment before signing your life away then you probably shouldn't even get an apartment because that's not smart, ever.. Ask as many questions about the apartment as you possibly can that you heard in the streets and get a tour of the apartment. I've [heard] that by law, you can ask to see the apartment you would be moved into (say whaaaat). The leasing office should totally roll out the red carpet and if they don't, turn around and go next door, or down the street...just get out of the establishment and let them know you won't be back.
7. Sign your lease!
After you've shopped around, talked to your roomies, factored dollars and cents, and narrowed your search down to one complex, next step is signing day. Ask about individual leases to protect yourself. Worst case scenario your roommate can't pay his/her rent so they'll Â kick them out and you get to stay (as long as you've paid your part!). Ask for individual leases, especially if you're in college, because well, things happen.
Moral of the story, it takes a lot of work, buttttt you'll enjoy having your own space to let loose! Tweet me your apartment hunting tips @theCHANNINGshow