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How to Rent an Apartment: Picking the Right Place

Gateway Apartments

There are obvious things to consider when choosing what apartment to rent; number of bedrooms, floor plan, square footage, etc. Apart from the apartment itself, there are some key aspects to consider that you may easily overlook especially if you’re a first time renter. For apartment-renting veterans, the following list may consist of no-brainers. However, for all of you renting rookies and novices out there, you’ll thank us for offering this list to you. Trust us, these are KEY aspects you’ll need to consider before signing a lease:

What’s the PARKING situation look like?

This one is HUGE. Parking, at times, can be a huge headache, for you and your guests. Not all apartment complexes guarantee you a parking spot (assigned or otherwise) for every car in your household. As for your guests, this can be an even bigger inconvenience if there are not designated areas for guest parking or at least ample nearby street parking. Obviously, the most ideal complexes offer easy parking for you and your guests.

Questions to ask: Is there assigned tenant parking? How many spaces are we guaranteed? Where else can we park if there is only one designated space? Where can our guests park? Is there an overnight quest parking policy?

Location, location, LOCATION

You’ve heard it before. This probably seems like the most obvious one in this list but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t really give it enough consideration.  Location means a lot of things to different people (is it a quiet area? is it a safe area? is there shopping nearby? what does my morning commute look like? etc.)… Everyone has a different lifestyle so think about yours and how your prospective apartment location may affect it accordingly.

Things to consider: What will my drive to work look like? How close am I to the freeway? Is it easy to find? Is it easy to get around? How far away is the nearest grocery store? Is it easy to find for guests? Can I turn both ways to get out of the complex? Am I near an airport, fire station, police station, or other noisy places? Are there plenty of restaraunts close by?

Which UTILITIES are included in the rent?

This can be an easy thing to forget when apartment hunting. Finding out which utilities are included or not is an absolute must when checking out different complexes. This will have a direct impact on your monthly budget depending on what you do or don’t have to pay for.

Find out: Are electric, gas, water, cable/wifi, and/or trash removal included? If any of these utilities are not included, find out which companies to contact that service your area.  

What’s the LAUNDRY Situation?

Laundry… The one thing we take for granted while living in a home; a washer and dryer in unit. All of a sudden, something you never thought about can be a major inconvenience depending on the apartment complex laundry situation. Many complexes have laundry units on-site, some have them in unit, and others don’t have either. This can be a major problem which is worth looking into. If the complex doesn’t happen to have any laundry units on-site or in unit, you definitely need to find out how close the nearest laundromat is.

Things to consider: Is there laundry on-site or in the unit? If it is on-site, how much does it cost? How busy are the laundry rooms? How far is the nearest Laundromat? 

How good (or bad) is PROPERTY MANAGEMENT?

This can be (and hopefully will be) a non-issue if property management is good, but if not… this can alter your whole living experience. You want to make sure if anything is wrong in your unit, (e.g. plumbing/ electrical problems), you’ll be taken care of promptly. Find out what the typical process is should anything go wrong in your apartment unit. It helps to know someone living in the complex to get a true idea of what property management is like. Obviously, if they are trying to get you to sign a lease, they may not be as transparent as they should be.

Questions to ask: What is the typical turnaround time for maintenance problems? If we have any problems with our unit, is there someone available we can call at anytime?

What’s THE VIBE of this apartment complex?

All apartment complexes have their own unique vibe to them. The key is knowing which one meshes with you best. If you value peace and quiet, it may not be a great fit moving into a complex predominately comprised of college students. On the flip side, if you’re a friendly, social person and everyone in the complex likes to keep to themselves, then the complex may not be a great fit in this instace either. This one may be harder to figure out without knowing someone in the complex or visiting a couple of different occassions but it’s never a bad idea asking. We’re also going to lump in how thin the walls are in this topic. You don’t want your neighbors hearing everything your doing and vice versa.

Questions to ask: What age group are the majority of tenants? What’s the complex like on the weekends; more quiet or more lively? Is it a good family environment for kids?

Before you sign anything, SEE IT FIRST!

Before you sign any lease, make sure you see the complex first and preferably the specific unit you will be renting out. Pictures are misleading and you want to be able to know exactly what you’re signing up for. Plus there are certain intangibles you’ll be exposed to upon visiting that you maybe wouldn’t have experienced otherwise, like cleanliness of the complex, for example.

Pro tip: Once you’ve completed touring your unit and the complex, feel free to do more exploring. If you run into a tenant, don’t hesitate to ask them about their thoughts on living there; what they like, don’t like or if there’s anything else you’d need to know before living here.


We hope you learn from our mistakes and use the above as a reference that guides you in your renting decision. Did we miss anything? What are your key aspects of things you consider before renting? Also, if you want to start your apartment hunt, check out our below apartment guide, your aid in finding the perfect apartment in California!

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