Guy and I have officially begun our apartment search to move in together. It’s a big move forward for us, as we have been dating for 2 years, but living separately. Fears notwithstanding, it’s very important to us both that we find an apartment where we can feel at ease, comfortable and have enough space. We’re both people who happen to need our alone time, and we want to avoid a situation of feeling smothered or claustrophobic. At the same time, we also want to have a warm home where we can snuggle up to watch a television show or cook together.
I’m a self-professed expert organizer, and I’m trying to keep this apartment search as organized as possible to avoid getting dizzy amongst all the options and prices. After many apartments, I’ve learned what it takes to keep the apartment hunt organized!
1. Figure out what features you’re looking for
Chances are low that you will find your perfect apartment or house, but what features are you looking for? Which of these are an absolute must, and which are you willing to give up on? In my case, I need the apartment to be close to a bus stop –otherwise, I have no way to get to work. That’s a feature that I absolutely cannot negotiate on. On the other hand, although I would love to have a garden, it’s not a necessity.
2. Calculate your rent budget
How much can you each spend monthly on rent? Are you able to place an additional smaller amount for a far better apartment? You should both calculate a spectrum of prices you are willing and able to cover, from the ideal amount up to a maximum. And of course, the rent can vary (sometimes significantly) depending on location. For instance, apartments in Denver Colorado may be cheaper than similar apartments in New York City or Los Angeles. The location matters!
In our case, Guy and I are each willing to pay between 1500-2000 NIS, although we prefer 1500. However, if we find a great apartment, we’re happy to pay the extra amount in order to live comfortably.
3. Consider additional costs
Every apartment and house have hidden additional costs. Make sure you keep track of what they are as they could add up to a significant amount. In my case, we need to pay land tax on the apartment and a building maintenance cost. Some rental prices cover gas and water prices, while others do not. Make sure you track all this information and ask the landlord when you visit the apartment. It could make a huge difference in price.
4. Create a form to fill in
This may not be the most tech-savvy way to handle this, but I like to create a form specifying all the important information I need to ask. You can see an old one I created here, and a great one from LifeHacker here. It made apartment hunting far easier to track and ensured that we got all necessary information to make a smart decision.
5. Use rental websites and apps
These great sites are constantly updated with the latest in available apartments. I use two or three since they usually feature different apartments. People can also upload photos of the homes, which help pre-judge the spot, and provide plenty of information like the size of the apartment, cost, included furnishing, etc. I can even take a look quickly on Google maps to see how close it is to a bus stop. Plus, it avoids real estate agent finder’s fees.