Here is a collection of 12 things to know while on the apartment hunt. Note that these guidelines are for general neighborhoods, and exceptions may occur, depending on which area you’re looking in.

01. Haggle just the right amount

Usually, the apartment sales manager can offer you $50 to $200 below the market price. Always tell the sales manager that your budget is approximately this much less, and mention that you’ve looked at places that are just as nice and convenient.

02. Mention a move-in date of slightly later than actual

If you want to move in by October, tell the sales manager you are looking to move in by mid-November. If they’re looking to fill space quickly, they can cut you a $500 off deal or give you a month free to move in “earlier”.

03. Take note of the window directionality

Make sure you map out the directionalities of the windows, as this plays a huge effect on future cooling and heating bills. Here are some tips for those living in the Northern Hemisphere:

  • West-facing windows will get the afternoon sun, which can be expensive to cool in the summer. Additionally, it can leave a nice big glare on your on when watching the evening news.
  • North-facing windows almost never get heat, which can be expensive to heat in the winter. If you live in a region where the winters can get below freezing, make sure you take note of this.
  • The most ideal window positioning are those facing south. You’ll receive more winter sunlight when it gets cold, and summers won’t be as hot.

04. Ground or Second Floor?

Ground floors can be better for your utility bills. Because the top floor acts as an insulator to the lower floor, temperatures are more stable, putting less pressure on your energy bill.

Additionally, second floor can be inconvenient especially if there is no elevator.

One thing good about being on the top floor is that the ceiling can be higher, giving you more space to “think”.

05. Take Photographs of the Apartment’s Condition

Ensure that you take a picture of everything right when you move in. By the end of your lease, your manager may be charging you for damage that was already there!

06. Don’t be afraid of renter’s insurance!

In case you end up spilling bleach on the carpet, or getting Sharpie markings on the wall, you’ll want to be covered by renter’s insurance. Oftentimes it’s actually pretty cheap – only around $10 a month.

07. Check that there’s ample parking

Check out the apartment parking situation around 6:00pm on weekdays to get a good idea of how parking is. Also, check that there are ample guest parking spots if you plan on having guests over!

08. Check back later at night for shady activity

If you can, return after 10pm to see if anything shady is going on near the residence. If cops are always around, this is usually a red flag. You can also check your local police department for crime statistics.

09. Check water pressure, cell phone signal, and for insects

When getting a room tour, try turning on the showers, and sinks and ensuring they they have a good, powerful water flow.

Additionally, make a few calls around your living space to ensure that you’re getting reception.

Lastly, check for cockroaches, and bedbugs. You’ll also want to check that there are no opening on the floor that allow for these insects or rodents to get through.

10. Check for nearby bus routes and grocery stores

If you’re looking to commute by bus to work, you’ll want to look around for bus stops that are within walking distance.

11. Nearby accomodations

Living next to the laundry machines can be a huge plus. However, note that having an apartment nearby the community swimming or park can bring unwanted noise pollution.

12. Groceries

Lastly, be sure that there is a cheap grocery market nearby (if possible, walking distance).