Like accepting an offer from a college or starting a relationship, renting an apartment is a big commitment. Once you sign a contract, you’re responsible for 12 monthly payments, unless you accept a fine to break the agreement. In light of these facts, it’s beneficial to make sure your off campus apartment is the right match before you commit to living there.
At 48 West, we know a thing or two about apartment hunting. In the simplest version, finding the perfect place starts with narrowing down a list of prospects and then touring the best ones to reach a verdict. But to get the information you need, you’ll have to know which questions to ask when viewing an apartment. Asking the following questions will help you find the right place for you.
Is This The Apartment I Would Live In?
The apartment you may end up renting isn’t always the same one you see on a tour. Many property managers show staged apartments, which are nicely decorated units that do not have tenants. While staged apartments can give you decorating ideas, you should also inquire about which furnishings on display will be available in your apartment, so you can budget for furniture accordingly.
Remember also that one-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom apartments, and four-bedroom apartments can have several versions. If you’re touring a two-story townhouse floor plan, but you’re interested in a one-story flat, make sure to ask how the square footage or layouts compare between the apartments. To avoid being disappointed after moving in, you’ll need to have accurate expectations up front. But you should keep an open mind, as well. In the course of the apartment tour, you may see a floor plan you didn’t expect to — but nonetheless — like better.
What Are The Housing Contract Terms?
The main reason you schedule an apartment tour is to experience vivid details you wouldn’t glean from online photos or reviews. Yet while you’re standing face-to-face with the leasing staff, you should also ask technical questions about the housing contract that you wouldn’t find online, such as:
- Are the contracts individual or shared?
- How many months long is the contract?
- When are the move-in and move-out dates?
- What is the monthly cost of my apartment?
- What’s the pet policy?
- Which utilities are included?
- How are monthly payments made?
- How much are the fees for late payments?
- What’s the guest policy?
- Is parking complimentary?
- Is renter’s insurance required?
- How are maintenance requests handled?
Have this list of questions written down in a notebook or your phone and record the answers so you can review them afterward. And remember to consider the cost-benefit implications in their totality. For example, if you're deciding between two apartments where one has a higher price but more utilities and appliances, that ostensibly costly apartment could be the least expensive option to live in over the course of a year or two.
Can I See The Community Amenities?
One of the best apartment hunting tips for first-time renters is to look for a community with amenities. If you’re accustomed to living in your family’s home or the GVSU dorms, the concept of community amenities probably seems foreign to you. However, access to a swimming pool, fitness center, movie theater, and gaming lounge, which would ordinarily cost a boatload in membership fees, are free for residents of our student housing near GVSU.
Remember, you’re renting not only an apartment but the experience of living in a community. Therefore, you shouldn’t be bashful about expanding your apartment tour beyond the front door to include all of the property’s features and amenities.
How To Make Your Own Apartment Hunting Questions
Every renter’s needs are different. Some want to live in a location that’s within walking distance from the GVSU campus, while others aspire to feel a strong sense of community with their peers. In addition to the questions we’ve outlined, your personal goals should also influence what to ask when renting an apartment.
Before your next tour, make a list of your priorities and ask how the apartment or community can help you achieve them. If you aim to make new friends, for example, inquire whether the leasing office has roommate-matching or hosts resident events. If your goal is to study or work from home, inquire whether the bedrooms are private and if there are available communal resources, such as computer centers or study rooms.
To schedule an apartment tour at 48 West, contact us today. We offer spacious apartments in Allendale, MI, as well as upscale community amenities and a location just minutes from GVSU — and we’re ready to show you all of it!