Moving Out and Getting an Apartment, Part 3: Questions to Ask about the Damn Apartment

STOP. Before you do anything, read my posts on Preparing to Move Out (Are You Sure?) and Finding the Damn Apartment.

Alright, so you’ve gotten to the point where you actually believe yourself when you say you’re adult enough to live on your own. You should probably seek psychiatric help, but on the off-chance you’re right, and you’ve already figured out what you want in an apartment and found some that look promising, I’ve compiled a list of topics to ask about when visiting possible apartments.

Yep, that’s right: you’re going to have to talk to someone. Someone who needs to think you are an adult. Someone who will determine your worthiness for that hellhole of an apartment. It’s time for an Adult Conversation.

Too fucking bad.

I’m assuming you’ve already done the research I told you to do in Part 2. God have mercy on your soul if you didn’t, because I’m not going to cover questions related to the things I told you to look up. Sucks to be you.

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So my best friend is looking for an apartment in the city, as a college student. In her case, an urban university student, apartment shopping can hard. So I send her a draft of my blog post. Here you go guys! Sharing is caring.

Apartment hunting websites and resources:

1. http://www.squawkfox.com/2008/09/04/printable-first-apartment-essentials-checklist/
“First Apartment Essentials Checklist for renters. This list can be used as a moving apartment checklist for those looking to move as well.”

2. http://www.norbly.com/first-apartment/
“When you move out, especially into your first apartment (or dorm), you’re going to need a lot of stuff. Furniture, appliances, technology, cleaning supplies, grocery items like flour, sugar, spices. There’s a ton you will forget to buy before moving, so start your list early and add to it as you think of more stuff.Also consider making a list of things you already have, so you know what you need to pack before moving.”

3. http://www.listotic.com/33-helpful-moving-tips-everyone-should-know/
“Plan ahead! Don’t forget to defrost, towel dry, and clean your refrigerator 24-48 hours before moving day. This will help prevent a stinky, wet mess?”

4. http://lifehacker.com/176670/hack-attack-apartment-hunting-101
“When you’re setting up your Craigslist feeds, don’t be stingy on the number of feed subscriptions. For my apartment hunt, for example, I was tracking over 20 different feeds in my apartment search folder. If you know where you want to live, go nuts - create a separate feed for every neighborhood name, nickname, and street name in your search area.”

5. http://lifehacker.com/five-best-apartment-search-tools-1571103043
“First, your local newspaper, which at least one of you pointed out that if a landlord is willing to pay to advertise their place in the paper, they’re usually not afraid of what they have to show, unlike a lot of sketchy ads on Craigslist. Simlarly, we have to call out hitting the pavement in your preferred neighborhood.”

“Ask any questions you have about payment procedures - how to pay rent, what utilities are included, which utilities providers you can use (cable/internet providers are notoriously picky). Find out what the application fee is, how the security deposit works if there is one, and under what circumstances do you get any fees back.”

“What’s in close walking distance? (food, bars, stores, etc)”

8. http://lifehacker.com/5877079/bring-this-checklist-with-you-next-time-youre-apartment-hunting
“If you’re looking for a new apartment, print out this checklist form and take it with you so you’ll remember what to ask and have a record of all the important information you’ll need to make your decision.”

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Pro-Tip #35: Check the Cabinets

When you’re house and apartment hunting, there’s a lot to look at. Probably too much. More than you’re going to remember to look at, that’s for sure. But you should probably look in the cabinets and make sure they’re not secretly full of mouse poop and insects. Most evidence of this throughout the rest of the place will have already been swept and scrubbed away, but just like you are going to forget to look in the cabinets, landlords forget to deep clean them. If there’s any evidence of household pests to be found, it’s gonna be in the corners and on the undersides of those suckers.

For more information on what to look for & what to ask on a walk-through, try my guide (link).

Moving Out and Getting an Apartment, Part 2: Finding the Damn Apartment

Don’t even bother reading this post unless you’ve read the first one on preparing to move out. This is for those brave folks who faced your bank account and came out victorious. The rest of you need to step up your game or get the fuck out.

Step 1. Budget that Shit

Before you can do anything with an apartment, you need to figure out what you can afford. If you’re piss-poor, you’re going to be looking at shitty places. But at least you’ll know and can start with the shitty places instead of raising that bar too high and then having to rip out your heart when you can’t afford them. If you’re going to have a roommate, make sure to make a budget together, that way you know ahead of time if they’re a total deadbeat who will abandon you with most of the rent. Finding a good roommate is this whole other issue that I won’t even go into right now.

What you need to do is make a list of all your monthly costs, not even the stuff you’re going to start paying, but whatever you pay for right now. Gas, car insurance, health insurance (for the truly wealthy and privileged), phone bills, and whatever other shit you spend your money on. You might want to adjust your spending and stop buying so much crap. Remember, you need to pack and move that crap later. You’re not going to be so excited about your extensive Yu-Gi-Oh collection when that time comes. Now add in your estimated utilities. You can fucking google that on your own, because it’s going to be different for wherever you want to live. Absolutely do this if you plan on moving to a different town or state. If you plan on moving to Chicago, LA, or New York, I hope you’re a goddamned heiress otherwise you’re going to be living in a shelter three months from now.

I think this part is a little ridiculous, but this is how property managers are going to figure out whether or not you’re as rich as you say you are: divide your total monthly income by three. Hey, look at that, it’s my good friend Math again. Funny how he keeps showing up. Make sure the number of your expenses is less than the other 2/3rds, if it is, you can continue. If it’s not, get the fuck out of here.

Okay, now take another hundred or three out of that for play money or emergencies or whatever. This final low low number is what you can afford to spend on rent. If you see this number and think “I’m fucked,” you probably are and you should just stay in your parent’s basement for another couple of years.

Step 2. Stay Within the Budget

I’m so fucking annoyed that I have to put this step in here at all for all you shitheads who look at all these fancy-ass places and get turned down. You just figured out your MAXIMUM rent. Don’t go above that.

Go somewhere like apartments.com and before you do anything else, put your maximum into the maximum rent range. This shouldn’t be that hard. I’m sure even you can manage it.

Step 3. Know What You Want

Okay, once you know all your limitations, you can pretend you’re the boss and focus on what you want. But here’s the shitty part: you’re probably going to have to compromise. Yeah, it’s nice to have a washer/dryer set in the apartment (especially if it’s included already, but that’s a damn fantasy), but you might need to settle for a laundromat nearby. If you’re rooming with someone, ask yourself, is this selfish bitch going to hog the bathroom for two hours every morning when you need to get ready? If so, maybe try to find somewhere with two bathrooms. Also, be prepared to fight over the bigger bedroom. Go in prepared for battle (and maybe be willing to pay a tiny bit over half if you get the bigger one, unless you’re a complete asshole). If you absolutely need your pet with you, narrow your search to pet-friendly places BEFORE you get kicked out of somewhere because your little pomeranian barks too much and gives you away. If you own a great dane or anything larger than a fucking breadbox, I am so so sorry. This search is going to be hell for you.

Okay. Go ahead and put all of that shit into an apartment search engine. Apartments.com is probably the least sketchy, but hey, maybe you’re looking for a place to house your meth lab and sketchy works for you. I don’t ask questions.

Step 4. Do Some Fucking Research

You’re going to live in this place. You’re going to be so poor you’re going to spend most of your time in this apartment, so you better fucking love it. Look at all the floor plans once you find places in your price range. Actually think about what’s on it. Will your oven and fridge open into each other? Do you need a hall closet to split up your enormous hoarder-like shoe collection? How big are the bedrooms? Is your bathroom basically one of those horrific bathroom stalls in stores where you have to stand on the toilet just to close the door? You’re not going to put up with that kind of shit every goddamned day for the next year.

Look at some maps of the area. Is the nearest grocery store two towns away? Is it near your work, or are you going to have to get up an extra hour earlier to avoid rush hour? Do yourself a favor and make a custom google map. Yeah, google has everything. It’s going to save your life someday. Probably in the form of some sentient, unforgiving android, but for today, we’ll stick to maps. Put all your potential apartments on there and put your work on there and whatever other terrible places you visit daily. If you have a roommate, share the map so they can see how selfish you’ve been by making sure your commute is short and theirs is two hours.

You should also check out the maps on crimereports.com so you know if you’re living next door to a sex offender or something. This is good for the meth lab owners, too, because you don’t want to move in next to someone who got caught for that kind of shit. You don’t need to deal with that kind of competition.

If you’re really dedicated, and I hope to God you are, you can google the hell out of that shit. Find out everything you can about this apartment you’ve found. Wikisearch the town, read reviews on yelp, figure out which pizza places deliver past midnight. 

Step 5. Narrow Down Your Choices

Focus on your top 10. Then your top 5. Then your top 3. Don’t go any farther than that (and don’t get rid of the research for the other 7 just yet). Create crazy complicated rating systems. Make an excel sheet or start putting stuff on your wall and connecting them with strings. Go full-on serial killer. Dedicate yourself.

Step 6. Visit

Don’t try to move in somewhere you’ve never even fucking seen. If you do, you deserve all the secret horrors that await you. Call or email the managers and try to pick a day to visit when they’re available. You don’t want to show up somewhere and find out they just sold their last place or they’re closed or something.

When you do visit, take pictures. Take enough pictures that you could use them to potentially break into the place in the future. But don’t actually do that unless you’re prepared to go to jail for it. But do take pictures, even of things you don’t think are important. Take pictures of the ceiling so you know if there’s any overhead light to illuminate all your past mistakes at 3 AM when you’re sitting on the kitchen floor eating a tube of cookie dough. You should also make note of how big the room is so you know if you can even fit what little you own. The same goes for the hallways or stairs or whatever exists outside the apartment on the way from your car. Could you get your mattress through all that shit?

You should ask millions of questions, by the way. I don’t care if you hate talking to people, you need to get over that and talk to this person. Apartments.com and My First Apartment both have lists of questions to ask. Or just google it like you do everything else. 

Step 7. Get the Goddamn Apartment

When you figure out what you want and have gone through all the previous steps, you can work on getting the apartment. Call the leasing office and let them know what you want. When you actually show up, pretend you’re showing up for a fucking job interview. Let them know that you’re the best goddamn tenant they could hope for and you’re the picture of perfection, even though we both know you’re a total fuckup. Don’t let the landlord know that yet. If you ace this secret interview, the office will ask for a security deposit. Better have that money ready! This is one of those rare times in your life that someone might require a physical check. We have a post on that if you’re one of those ignorant fucks who can’t write a check. Then they’re going to run a credit check and you better know that shit ahead of time and be prepared to defend yourself if necessary. After a few days, the manager will give you a call with either great news or to laugh at you because you done fucked up. This is either the end of your search or the beginning of a new one. Either way, we’re done here.

This is by no means a complete guide, so if you have any specific questions, please let us know and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

I was looking for an apartment and a realtor showed me a tiny apartment where one wall was a mirror, and she said, “It makes it seem like the place is so much bigger.” Yeah, but, you know…it’s not….I wanted later for her to be like, “Excuse me. My broker’s fee was $1,000. Your check is for $500.” And I could be like, “But, yeah. Put it up against that mirror and it’ll look like $1,000, you optically fooled idiot.”
—  John Mulaney, Motif and the City

How to find an apartment/flat (ft. Liam Dryden) - by How To Adult

Filed under things I should have watched 2 months ago. 



1. Nail down your budget, then assume you’ll be spending an extra $100 in utilities.

2. Question listings that are aggressively listed.

3. Cross reference those listings with http://www.bedbugregistry.com/search/

4. Then check the location on Crime Mapping.

5. Always street view those apartments.

6. Drive through the neighborhood at night.

7. I was always told Westside Rentals is a scam, but now that there are so many shady dealings on Craigslist that nowadays it’s just wise to bite the bullet and get an account. Share the cost with others also looking, it’s worth the hassle to avoid craigslist scams.

8.  What’s a craigslist scam? People will copy listings… higher priced listings… and relist them at lower, plausible, prices. They will then ask you for a wire transfer. 

9. Only about 10% of listings out there allow dogs. Some require a pet deposit of $200 - $500 on top of a monthly pet rent.

10. Charming, Quaint, Charismatic = Small

11. Junior, Artist, Efficiency, Bachelor = Studio

12. Search apartment ratings. Those awesome buildings with all the amenities tend to also jack up your rate after a year. Also some of those new buildings tend to have shitty unattentive management.

13. If you have a deadline, new listings on WSR actually do appear 2 weeks before you move, so don’t lose hope. 

14. http://www.therentalgirl.com/map

15. Find a listing? GREAT! Now the challenge is to make contact. Note that it is common for those landlords to not call you back. 

16. Did you get an appointment to view? AWESOME. Ask a current tenant if they like living there. Then ask why the previous tenant left. Was it a grisly murder? Bed bugs? A 3rd equally horrifying situation?


Apartment hunting || letstortureher

As they made their way towards the meeting point, Stiles was still a bit amazed about how they got here. The last summer was a bit of a blur , he knew they had had a few dinners with his dead, and the talk with Scott and the rest of the pack, and there was lots of fun and a few fights, but he still had been so scared that it would end with the summer. It didn’t. Peter contacted a few agencies , and some other people that Stiles didn’t want to know about, about the things he did during day time, maybe assasin or drug dealer or something, and now they were here. On their way to their first appointment for an apartment. 

“ I didn’t even know there were real realtors for apartments. ” He grumbled as they approached the woman, who already looked overly cheerful. She surely wouldn’t look like that if Stiles had phoned her about getting an apartment. But for all she knew Peter was single father or something, and hell, he knew that Peter had a very attractive voice. Well, she would learn soon that they were both not the nicest people, and not very good at making decisions together either. “ Hello, my name is Mr’s Miller, and I am your realtor for today. You have to be Mr. Hale, and is this your son ? ”

Apartment Hunting Tips

1. Identify your top three priorities. Make the budget one of your top three priorities; the other two could be anything important to you: great natural light, proximity to work or school, or a washer-dryer in the unit, for instance. If you are having trouble coming up with your top three, try listing everything you want and cross things off one by one until you are left with your most important priorities.
2. Have your paperwork and information ready. Be prepared to leap at the opportunity! Things you might want to prepare for:

• Information for standard applications (employment contact info, present and past landlords)

• Credit Report – free annual reports at www.annualcreditreport.com

3. Uncover hidden costs. Know what you could potentially be taking on, beyond the rent, by asking key questions whenever you look at a new place. A few to consider:

• Are window treatments included?

• Which (if any) utilities are included?

• Is there a fee to use building amenities or for parking?

• Are there cable hook-ups where you want them, or will you need to have a new line put in?

4. Rely on your senses. Odd smells and noises you notice during a showing could end up being a major problem when you move in. Natural light, or a lack thereof, can make all the difference in the world, so try to attend a daytime open house rather than looking at the apartment after work.
5. Watch out for scams. If you’re looking on Craigslist or any third-party site, beware of fake listings! Some common red flags and tips:

• Red Flag: Asking for payment in order to set up an appointment.

• Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen—that amazing “deal” may not exist.

• Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.

6. Other things to consider or ask about:

• Laundry facilities

• Parking

• Air Conditioning/Heating

• Pet-friendly units

• Health and safety features

• Noise problems

• Poor condition (or unfinished repairs)

• Theft prevention