Apartment Searching: What To Look For

I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday!  I recently just put a deposit down a new apartment I will move into this winter and I already have a countdown on my phone for when I can move in (75 Days).  I tried to keep my expectations low, but I have been dreaming of dark kitchen cabinets, a space to do work from home and a place to have a makeup desk (Having a make up desk is amazing, especially when you have roommates!).  Okay so maybe my goals were a little lofty, but I was willing to put the work in and after ten, yes TEN viewings of different apartments I finally found the one.  It’s by downtown Cincinnati, but has a little town square with a few restaurants and coffee shops. I plan on documenting the whole process for you guys!

But first I wanted to give some tips and point out a few things that I learned to look  for when apartment searching. There are often a lot of things that are left out on apartment websites and it's important to look out for these things!

What to look for inside the apartment:

  • Mold: Check for any weird/intense smells, I have had apartments with mold before that left me sick for months. This is very important! You can also ask when the apartment complex was built/completed and that could be a good indication of its condition and potential for icky mold.

  • Washer/Dryer: Most apartments should have a washer/dryer hook-up where you can put your machines. Some places will offer you the ability to rent them for a monthly fee or sometimes if you’re lucky you just pay your water and electric bill and they come included! It's important to ask if there is a fee, if there are washer and driers because I've heard them cost $15-100 a month. If there isn't a hook-up most places have a laundry mat on site.

  • Bills: Ask a ball park on monthly utility bills, this helps when you're on a budget and know what your monthly bills will really be.  If you find a LEED Certified apartment this helps cut down on monthly cost as they are more energy efficient and help the environment at the same time (Win Win)!

  • Maintenance: This is a big one.  Make sure that there is 24 hour maintenance in case of emergencies, and see if they have general maintenance on site, so it won't take days to get things fixed.

  • Bathrooms: They are always a good indicator as to the apartments cleanliness and upkeep.  I usually found the shower as the best indicator (also mold, check for mold).

  • Ceiling Fans: Sometimes apartments allow ceiling fans, but they come at a price.  Make sure you ask if that’s something you are interested in. Usually there are some upgrades you can get to make the apartment more your own but the fee is usually monthly.

  • Painting: Most places have different rules on what their requirements are for painting, whether its leave a primer on or paint it back to white. Check before you go crazy and paint away. 


  • Parking: Ask about parking, what's available and if it will cost any money on top of your rent.

  • The Residents: Sometimes the property manager will tell you the demographic around the apartment to see if there will be tenants similar in age.

  • Public Spaces: Most apartments I saw had a clubhouse and fitness center, check these areas out.  In the fitness center I always looked to see if they had free weights there, if they did but some were missing it told me a lot about how the property was taken care of.

  • Fees: Make sure you ask about additional charges, such as application fees, deposits or pet fees. Sometimes there are additional fees that aren’t stated and may take you by surprise.

  • Weather: If you live in a cold area, ask them how they deal with the snow.  You don’t want your car getting stuck and end up being late for work/appointments.

Of course, do some digging and make sure the area is safe if you don't know the city well.  I’d suggest mapping from your work to the apartment during rush hour to get a feel for your future drive.  Also, going to the area on the weekends and nights to see what kind of crowd is around.

Some of my favorite sites are apartmentratings.com, which specifically tells you what renters think of a property. Apartments.com, is a great site too, very interactive.  You’re able to draw a circle on the map of where you want to live and input the commute you'd be willing to drive to work.

There are also sites specifically for space planning.  This helps you get a sense of how big or small a room really is and the type of furniture you will be able to fit.

I find it helpful to have all the information before I put down a large deposit and then sign up to live there for 12 months.  

Hope some of my tips help and happy apartment hunting!