Important Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting

Whether you have moved or are planning to move, it’s always smart to know what are important questions to ask when apartment hunting. Especially in a big city like Chicago, there are so many options available when it comes to apartments. Do you want a condo, a duplex, a one bedroom, or a studio apartment? Knowing what you want before you rent an apartment makes you not only a smarter shopper, but a better tenant. Landlords and property managers price their units based on what they know renters want out of an apartment, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared and ask questions. In this article, we will give you a few important questions you need to ask yourself before you sign the lease. 

What Can You Afford?

Let’s begin with the most important question you should ask yourself before you go apartment hunting: how much are you able to spend on an apartment? If you only work part-time, it may be unrealistic to expect a lakefront, top floor apartment. Be realistic when it comes to apartment hunting because, very often, landlords will increase the price of their apartments either after you sign the lease, or after your lease ends. It’s important to understand what affects the price of apartments so you have the understanding of where to look first. 

What Affects the Price of Apartments?

 There are a lot of factors that go into the price of an apartment. Knowing what they are and why they matter can help you to determine what factors you find important for an apartment. 

Location

Arguably the factor that has the biggest impact on price is going to be location. An apartment in Lincoln Park will be more expensive than an apartment in North Park. Is this always the case? No, there are exceptions, but for the most part, you can estimate that more often than not, you will be paying more for an apartment in Lincoln Park than you will be in North Park. Location itself is pretty vague. There are subcategories that go under location such as nearby public transportation, crime in the area, schools, and shopping. Once you know your budget, you will need to look at locations that work within that number. 

View

A factor you wouldn’t necessarily think about when looking at apartment prices is view. Apartments in Chicago that overlook Lake Michigan are significantly more expensive than ones farther west. People pay top dollar for views. 

Floor Level

Floor levels, like views, also play a part in how expensive your apartment is. An apartment that is on a top floor is generally more expensive due to the views, lower noise, and less interaction with bugs. Higher-leveled apartments also tend to be more windy and can be an annoyance with bringing items up and down if there is no elevator, so that is something to be aware of. 

Updates

If there are any updates on the property or neighborhood around the property that would increase the value, you can expect to pay a higher amount for the apartment. Property managers know that updated apartments will go for higher, therefore if you want to pay less, you might want to look at an older building. 

What Apartment Amenities are Important?

Like any of the above factors, apartment amenities will affect how much an apartment is leased for. Generally, the more amenities that are available, the higher the price tag. Amenities should always be chosen based on how important they are to your lifestyle, so knowing this before you go to rent is smart. For instance, if you aren’t a swimmer, renting an apartment in a complex that has a swimming pool most likely won’t be for you. Here is a list of common apartment amenities that renters usually look for.

  • Fitness Centers
  • Business Centers
  • Balconies
  • Laundry Room
  • Swimming Pool
  • Childcare Center 
  • Public Transportation
  • Parking

Tip: Make a list of amenities you want and that fit your lifestyle the best before looking for an apartment. Knowing what amenities you want and your price range will make narrowing down apartments a lot easier. 

What are the Hidden Fees To Look Out For?

A big question you need to ask yourself when apartment hunting is: can I afford the hidden fees? And what are they? Knowing there’s more money involved other than the month-to-month cost of the apartment, will save you from pinching pennies later. We have broken down a few fees that you may not have thought to budget into your apartment hunt. 

Application Fee

The application fee can take a lot of people by surprise. Landlords will often charge possible tenants this fee in order to do a background and credit check. This fee can cause issues and landlords aren’t required to refund this fee even if you don’t get the apartment. Be sure to ask if you can get a refund and how much it costs before it’s done. A normal fee should be between $30-$50. 

Pet Deposit

If you don’t have a pet, you won’t have to worry about this, but if you do, you will want to be aware that landlords can require you to provide a pet deposit. This is due to the chance that your animal might cause damage to the unit. 

Security Deposit

A security deposit is a common fee that landlords require that gives them money to fix or change anything you may have done to the unit while you were there and that could negatively impact future renters. This can also be a tricky fee. It’s a good idea to take lots of pictures when you first move in to ensure you get your deposit back. 

Renter’s Insurance

Many landlords will require their tenants to purchase rental insurance so that they aren’t held liable in case of a fire or leak. This is a good idea for any tenant, though, in order to protect valuable assets. 

Moving Costs

There are always costs to moving that you might not even realize will add up; these can be things like gas, U-Hauls, boxes, or professional movers. It’s always good to plan ahead and prepare for these moving costs. 

Utilities/Cable & Internet

Aside from the month-to-month payments, you need to remember that utilities and the internet will affect how much you can afford, as well. Depending on the size and location of your apartment, utilities with cable and internet can cost almost as much as the apartment itself. 

Our goal is to make sure you find your dream apartment. Contact us today so we can help make that dream a reality and head to our blog tab in order to learn more from us about what look for in apartments. 

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