Moving out from the dorms and into an off-campus apartment is a major milestone of everyone’s college career. From finding the perfect mix of roommates to designing a new bedroom with a luxurious full-size mattress, the process seems fun and exciting… until you have to find the apartment. Agreeing on a neighborhood, figuring out if you want a house or apartment, and organizing times to go look at spaces can create undue stress on you and your roomies.
For me, the worst part was not knowing if I was missing something. Did I forget to ask an important question? Is there something I didn’t catch that a more experienced homeowner might have? In order to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks, I created a list of questions to ask every real estate agent I visited with. Here is my list of must-ask questions while apartment hunting!
- How safe is this neighborhood?
Safety while living near your college campus should be your number one priority. Be it walking home from the bars, getting into your car, or sitting outside on the porch, feeling safe in your home and in your neighborhood is crucial to a safe and fun college experience.
- What’s that smell?
While this might feel awkward, it is so important to get any immediate concerns out of the way. New homes might have an odd smell to them and while it could be nothing, it could also be a major something. Anything you see, hear, or smell that seems off, don’t be afraid to ask about it.
- What is the parking situation?
Parking on campus is hard enough and it’s certainly not the type of issue you want to take home with you. While the ideal situation is to get under-cover parking, this isn’t always an option. Ask about alley parking, parking garages, and street parking nearby.
- Are utilities included in the rent?
This is a major question, which if not addressed, can come back and bite you in the behind. You see rent listed ridiculously low for such a gorgeous space, but then get screwed over with heat, electric, and water bills that you didn’t think you’d have to deal with until you were actually adulting. Be sure to figure out any additional costs prior to signing the lease.
- What is the walk to/from campus?
This is another question I like to ask for safety purposes! Is the walk usually pretty populated and in open spaces, or am I trekking through the scary darkness after a late library sesh? It’s important to know what daily activities will entail if you choose this apartment.
- What is your guest policy?
Some apartments are particularly strict about guest policies, especially if you opt for a building with a heavy student population. Figure out how you and your roommates want to handle guests and then find a building or home that can accommodate your lifestyle!
- What are the lease terms?
This is the most important aspect of apartment hunting. Some companies will sneakily add expenses or have requests you have never heard of before. Be sure to actually read the fine print and have an adult or someone you trust look it over too!
- What happens if I break my lease?
Sometimes, things just don’t go as planned. It’s important to know what the consequences may be if you choose to opt out last minute, move out for a few months, or move out entirely.
I hope this list makes for a stress-free apartment hunt. Find some friends to live with, a neighborhood you love, and a real estate agent ready to answer lots of questions! Happy hunting!