8 Tips to Find the Best Affordable Apartments

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Looking for a new apartment is tedious, time consuming and sometimes disappointing. With hundreds of listings and competing complexes, it can be difficult to feel confident finding an apartment that’s best for you. Since the increase in rent for apartments has skyrocketed around the country, a lot of Americans are struggling to find a way to afford an apartment that meets all their needs. With several important factors to consider, including location, safe neighborhoods, shopping, and great school districts, it can be particularly challenging in major cities where the rise in prices had driven people to live further away from their jobs and families.

According to Apartment List, the U.S. average rent has increased by 1.5 percent, which is lower than the 2.8 percent of last year and the 3.2 percent of 2016.  In Atlanta, for example, rent has increased by 2.0 percent since last year with the average cost for a one-bedroom at $1,010 and $1,770 for a two bedroom. In San Francisco, where the increase in rent is known to be outrageous, rent is up by 1.5 percent compared to last year with a one bedroom starting around $2,440. In San Francisco, The Rent Board re-calculates the annual increase allowed each year and announces the new rate around the end of the year to become effective the following March. Unfortunately, according to The Rent Board, there is no limit on the amount of rent a landlord can charge the tenant when renting a vacant unit.

With rent being so expensive you want to make sure that the property you’re renting is worth the money. Here are some tips to help you navigate through your search and make this stressful time a breeze.

Talk to Friends

You never know what or who your friends know. Talking to friends can help you find connections or cheaper options. Apartments will sometimes offer discounts if current residents bring in new residents. Talk to friends who have lived in the area longer and find out what areas to avoid—every town has one.

Avoid Moving During the Busiest Times of the Year

Rental prices tend to be higher during popular moving seasons.  Apartment Guide explains that during the slower seasons around the winter holidays, landlords are more likely to give you deal. You may even be able to negotiate a better price. It’s also very competitive to close deals with apartment building who have future tenants signing leases weekly.

Make a List of Your Top Choices

Browsing through apartments can make your head spin, so use a website like Apartment List to help narrow down your search. You can choose the amenities that are most important to you and call around. Most times the prices listed are not the actually prices. Because prices change frequently, you have to call for updates. Make a list of your top five and visit those, then narrow your search down from there. You should also consider the type of neighborhood and pay attention to the grounds upkeep. If you notice that there’s trash lying around or the grass is browning, it’s probably a sign that the complex is poorly maintained.

Be Prepared to Ask Questions

When you start touring apartments, be prepared to ask questions. How much is the deposit? Do they have a pet fee? Most complexes will have handouts for you to take with all the basic information for expenses. If there is a question specific to your situation, make sure to ask. It could be the defining factor that determines your decision.

Look for A Roommate

If you’re single and want to live in a neighborhood that may be too expensive for you to afford alone, move in with a friend or post an ad for a roommate. Post your search on Facebook or roommate matching site that will give you suggestions. Make sure to be very clear in the type of roommate you want and the criteria they need to have to be compatible with you.

Drive by the Building at Night

When visiting a complex during the daytime, you will always notice how quiet the community is because most of the residences are all at work. However, if you drive by the complex in the evening, it will give you a good idea on the safety of the complex and who your neighbors will be. A friendly neighborhood will have visual indications of people being social, people walking their pets, and children playing outside.

Check the Reviews

Always check online reviews. Keep in mind that people tend to write reviews when they’ve had a bad experience, so take them with a grain of salt. You will be amazed by the feedback people leave on Yelp or Google about their experiences. By doing your research, you can keep an eye out for things to look for that are suspicious. Look for similarities in reviews—bugs, management, maintenance, crime and try typing in the complex’s name in Google and see what Google suggests. Check local crime logs and see what occurred in or around that complex.

Don’t Hesitate to Sign When You Find the One

When you finally find the place you love, jump on it! Apartments go quickly so make sure you have money set aside to pay the application fees at a moment’s notice. Prices can fluctuate daily, so take that leap of faith!

Elizabeth Nouryeh

Writer for Hers Magazine. Poet. Lover of words. Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.

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