Moving can be stressful. Between coordinating move in and out times, finding roommates if you need them and determining if you can keep up with rent, you want to be sure you’re ready to move before you take any steps.
Post-grads especially can often find themselves in limbo when it comes to living situations. Being young and transient can be amazing, since the ability to pick up and leave things behind is an opportunity that won’t exist forever. But with that comes an almost constant internal debate on whether or not a move is worth it.
Blair Brandt, CEO and co-founder of The Next Step Realty in New York City, says that the most common reasons people have for moving come down to affordability, lifestyle, roommates and your job.
According to Rent.com, six out of 10 renters agree that affordability is most important when apartment hunting, and one out of five of those surveyed who were already planning on moving said they were doing so to find a more affordable place.
Ultimately, moving is going to be dependent on your financial comfort level, but lots of things go into that. For post-grads, your affordability is typically correlated to your career and whoever is living with you. The tricky part arises when you decide what changes are worth you pulling the trigger and finding a new place.
Rent is expensive—make sure you’re getting the bang for your buck.
It all comes back to rent. The most obvious element to consider when deciding to move, your rent is usually—barring any hefty student loan payments—your biggest monthly expense, and therefore is likely to dictate how you spend the rest of your paycheck. That being said, if you’re looking for the first indicator of whether or not you should switch apartments, think about what you would change for what you’re shelling out every month.
“An increase in rent should occur either if the increase meets your expectations or median rent rate for the area, or if you’re gaining something in return,” says Jason Patel, founder of Transizion and a real estate investor.
For example, where are the perks? Are you in a high-rise building with a gym, built-in utilities and in-unit laundry? Or are you in a triple-decker row house a half mile walk to the nearest laundromat? Those extra, hidden lifestyle costs can end up adding more to your monthly expenses than you realize, so it may be worth consolidating and springing for convenience.
Related: How to Find an Apartment: HC’s Guide to Apartment Hunting
“If you live in an apartment or a townhouse, list your amenities. Then list what you’re looking for. Compare those lists,” Patel says. “I’m now in a building in Washington, D.C. that has a gym. It saves me time, and the slight rent increase is worth the time and money I save from going to my own apartment gym and not needing to buy a gym membership.”
Rent is usually directly dependent on location—the suburbs and more residential areas veer on the side of affordable, while downtown and more convenient neighborhoods are going to cost you a pretty penny.
Brandt says that if you want to decrease your rent quickly and efficiently, find a different area. “There’s no silver bullet, but location is the best way to save,” he says.
Why settle for a terrible landlord? Don’t give anyone your money who doesn’t deserve it!
Rent, as a rule, will always be connected to a landlord, and your relationship with yours can be a burden when you feel that this person isn’t on your side.
“If your landlord isn’t responsive, take your rent elsewhere when you can. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation in which you need equipment fixed or replaced but your landlord doesn’t respond to your request for help,” said Patel.
Miranda Benson, a marketing coordinator at Dolly, a company that pairs moving trucks with apartment hoppers, found this to be all too true in one her living situations.
After never finding out who her roommates were prior to moving in, being strung along when trying to pick up her keys and getting an eviction notice with no prior discussion after a clerical error, the decision to not re-sign her lease was an easy one.
“No amenities or location is worth bad management. And if your landlord doesn’t follow through on any promises, it’s time to move out,” Benson says. “Your landlord is likely going to be your landlord as long as you’re there.”
Brandt says that when apartment searching, agents and brokers are essentially selling you on a landlord, not an apartment. “When you become a realtor, they’re going to train you to pitch landlords, and then you’re going to market those buildings to the public,” he says. “For grads, try to find someone who’s young enough, early enough in their career, but experienced enough to be successful.”
If your landlord is asking too much for the quality of life their property is providing, it’s reasonable to look elsewhere.
You may want to live without roommates, but your wallet might think otherwise.
Love it or hate it, but living with roommates is usually an inevitable part of post-grad life to keep your expenses as low as possible. This is fine when you’re in your first or second apartment, but can definitely get tiresome after a while.
When having roommates starts to get old, you might be asking yourself whether or not having a roommate (or roommates) to save on rent is worth having an extra person in your space.
The issue here is calculating whether your income is enough to support a studio or one-bedroom apartment on your own, and where.
An alternative to living alone, if the option is available, is to evaluate your relationship with your significant other. Should the timing make sense, a lot of couples decide to move in together simply to cut costs. You’re probably spending most days over at the other’s place, anyway.
Along the same train of thought, moving in with your SO could mean you also need more space. Guys somehow fit all their clothes into the tiniest closets available, but that doesn’t have to fly with you. See what’s out there for you and your partner that gives you each plenty of space, and you may still find it ends up cheaper for the both of you.
You (do) gotta go to work, so at least make your commute easy.
Some people spend more time at work than at home, so it’s fair to say that your career has a heavy influence on where you live.
Besides moving due to work for logistic reasons—your office got moved, you’re relocating to a new city or you got a raise and can now afford that luxury building downtown—most people would attribute a move to bettering their commute.
There is no shortage of perks of living close to work. You can sleep in a little more or have some extra time for breakfast. You’ll get home in the evenings quicker, so you can catch the latest episode of your favorite show. Shorter commutes just overall make you happier and healthier.
And what if you didn’t have to commute at all? More and more offices are making it easier for employees to work remotely—in fact, a 2017 survey by The New York Times found that 47 percent of Americans are working from home at least some of the time—so seeking an apartment close to work may not be a factor at all.
Instead, think about what kind of apartment and would give you a motivating space to get work done. Maybe that’s somewhere with a balcony to sit outside with your laptop, or a neighborhood with plenty of spaces to take a walk during a conference call.
Patel emphasizes that commuting just wears you down, and it again becomes a matter of worth. “A bad commute can be a draining experience and worse, a waste of time,” he says. “Is the extra rent money worth your time?”
Juliana Knight, who finds herself living at home to save money but commutes an hour each way to her entry-level job, agrees. “Driving so far really tires you out and cuts into how much you can participate in events at home and in the city your job is in,” she says. “I think a big sign it’s time for you to move is when your current commute is just no longer bearable and affects other aspects of your life.”
The list of pros and cons of whether or not to search for a new apartment can be endless. The plethora of possibilities for places to live, who to live with and how to pay for it all can be daunting, making it sometimes easier to simply grin and bear a not-so-pleasurable situation. But at the end of the day, there are always options to sort through – and looking never hurts.