According to my organizational behavior management class I took the first semester of graduate school, there are five steps you should always consider when making decisions. They are: define the problem/issue, define criteria, weigh criteria, set alternatives and make a final decision. When you are searching for a new place to live a student or even later on in life, these steps can come in handy to make the right decision for you at the time, especially if you are trying to stay within a budget.
After living in the same place for the past 3 years, I decided it was time to move to a more affordable apartment since I started my MBA degree. Below you will find a few helpful tips/steps on how to find the right apartment for you on a budget!
Preliminary Research: The Internet can Become your Best Friend
Nowadays, you can pretty much find reviews and information on anything and everything you are thinking about buying or using. Apartment hunting is no different. Before you begin your search, make sure you decide on what standards, or criteria, you would like your future home to fit and how important each factor is to you. For example, when searching for our new apartment, my roommate and I were mainly concerned with rent amount, condition of the apartment and the proximity to school and work.
After we narrowed this criteria down, I started out by doing a simple search on Google by typing “apartments in rock hill sc.” This search will pull up a list of local listings first. If the apartment community has a Google page, you can pull up the page and see any reviews that Google users have left. The listing may also link to the apartment’s website, if they have one.
If the apartment complex does not have a website or Google page, typically, the top listings in your search will be an apartment guide or apartment finder website that provides listings and ratings of several apartment communities.
Make a List of Possible Choices
While doing your search online, start listing out which apartment communities sound the best to you. I like tables and spreadsheets so I created a table in Word with several columns that listed the most important criteria. My table included:
- Apartment name
- Apartment address
- Phone number
- Website (or online apartment listing)
- Rent Amount
- Current Specials (if any)
After compiling a list of places that look good to your pocket and your style, it’s time to do some further research that will require you to talk to someone from an apartment community. Call your top choices and ask further questions about rent rates and current specials. Find out what time their office is open so you can schedule a visit in person.
Before visiting your prospective apartment communities, make sure you have a list of questions in mind that are important to you. For example, we were looking for an apartment that either included a washer and dryer or had connections for some. We were also interested in knowing the security deposit amount and application fee.
Applying and Leasing
After narrowing down your top choice based on your visits to several communities, you can consider applying for the apartment you really want that meets your needs. After you’re approved, you can start the leasing process. Typically, you can reserve the exact apartment unit you would like in the community by paying your security deposit in advance. Before moving in and signing the lease, make sure you addressed any questions or concerns you may have about the apartment. Make sure to clarify the leasing terms for moving in as well as moving out. Be sure to ask about any specials you were offered, such as a month free of rent, and how and when those will be disbursed.
Enjoy your New Place
After doing all that research, struggling to find the right apartment for you and moving in, you deserve to take a moment to look back and start enjoying your new home. After moving in, you can start having fun by decorating your new apartment the way you want it. Look out for some DIY projects I will be blogging about that will help you make the most out of your apartment!