Unless you’re a multi-millionaire with a team of personal assistants working round the clock to find you the perfect place, searching for an apartment is tough. Even multi-millionaires probably lie awake at night wondering if the pool in that last penthouse was exactly the right shape, but this isn’t about them. This is about you, the average person, trying to find a place to live and wondering if all the pieces will ever fall into place. Perhaps the hardest part about searching for an apartment is that it’s a highly emotional process. Think of all the times you’ve heard someone declare that they ‘just fell in love’ with the place where they live as soon as they set eyes on it. Sadly, emotion like this can get in the way of a successful result. You find yourself swooning and going weak at the knees over the stunning high ceilings and forgetting to ask how much of a deposit you’ll have to pay. That’s why its best (if undeniably tricky) to remove the emotion from the process, sit down and draw up a list of tips designed to make your search more efficient. Better yet, take a look at the list we’ve drawn up for you:
Set a Realistic Budget
This means you, a pen, some paper and a degree of honesty. List your outgoings every month and include everything, from socialising to gym membership and that coffee on the way into work. You may be willing to make a few sacrifices for the right apartment but you’ll still want a life after you’ve moved in. The novelty of floor to ceiling windows and granite work surfaces will soon begin to pall once you realise you can’t afford to venture outside. The figure you come up with will be an affordable and, more importantly, ‘doable’ budget. Looking at apartments which are beyond your budget is only going to be frustrating, at the same time as making the apartments you can afford to rent appear markedly underwhelming.
Work with the Seasons
You may not have any control over when you need an apartment, but if you can delay things until a more beneficial time of the year then do so, even if it means doing something like moving back in with your parents for a while. Generally speaking, rental rates go up during the summer months, when moving seems like such a fun thing to do, and down during winter, when the rain, frost and snow make staying put seem much more sensible. The months after Christmas, in particular, represent a period when you’ll have far less competition for apartments and will therefore be in a better position to find the ideal place and negotiate the best deal.
Treat it Like a Job
Once you’ve looked at two or more apartments the terrible truth is that they can all begin to blur into each other. Was the ground floor apartment with the communal garden the one which charged an exorbitant maintenance fee or was that the second floor two bedroom apartment with the breakfast bar in the kitchen? And where did you put the contact details for them both? Keep things simple by creating a spreadsheet like the ones you use at work (if you don’t work with spreadsheets, create one anyway). That way, you’ll have all the information you need on every apartment you’ve looked at gathered safely in one place, plus any notes you might have made after viewing them. Even if a spreadsheet sounds a bit too technical, getting everything down on paper and safely filed away will make organising your search much simpler.
Enquire About Discounts
It’s easy, because finding an apartment can be so difficult, to assume that all of the power rests with the landlord or letting agent. The truth, however, is that landlords can sometimes find it very difficult to find suitable tenants. If you manage to present yourself as that suitable tenant (for more on this see the next tip), then you might be in a position to ask about any possible discounts, such as a reduction in the first month’s rent in return for signing a longer lease. There’s always a chance that they might look at you as if you just asked whether you could host all night raves every other Saturday, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
The tip above mentioned being a suitable tenant. The trick to finding the right apartment isn’t just finding a place that meets your expectations, it’s getting the better of everyone else who’s engaged in the same search at the same time. Think of selling yourself as a tenant in the same way you sell yourself when looking for a job. Prepare a pack which includes proof of your employment and evidence of your earnings, such as payslips or bank statements. Include the details of any past landlords who can provide a reference, complete with contact details and some personal information. Not everyone will go to all this trouble, so a pack of this kind will place you at an advantage over many of the other would-be tenants.