How to Start Apartment Hunting for Next Year

Apartment hunting can be extremely stressful. You have a lot of decisions to make, like if you want to live close to campus, if you want to live with friends, if you want to live alone and how much you are willing to pay per month. These are just a few questions you should be asking yourself.

Now that it is springtime, students who do not plan on living on-campus begin apartment hunting for the upcoming academic year. Check out these tips and tools on how to begin your apartment hunt.

Decide who you’re going to live with

This should be your first step. You have to decide if you want to live alone, with one person or with multiple people. Once you have decided on your roommate situation, it’s on to the next step.

Create a realistic budget

Living off-campus can be very expensive, especially in a city like Boston. You need to make a realistic budget for yourself. How much money are you willing to put towards rent every month? Remember, living off-campus means buying your own groceries too, so remember to add weekly trips to the grocery store to your budget. If you’re planning on living pretty far away from campus, be sure to add in transportation fares. It can all add up!

Pick a neighborhood

Picking a neighborhood can be really fun but also very stressful. Apartment prices vary on neighborhood, so if you’re on a bit of a tighter budget, there are probably a few neighborhoods you will want to lean towards and a few you will want to steer clear of.

Ask a lot of questions

Be nosy in your apartment hunting. Ask questions like:

  • Is the heat included?
  • Who controls the heat?
  • Will the apartment be painted before I move in?
  • Is smoking allowed?
  • What about pets?

Even if you think the questions and answers do not apply to you, go out of your way and ask as many questions as you can.

Read the lease before you sign

This sounds so obvious, but it’s just like pressing the “Agree” button any time your computer updates; you press it, but you don’t actually read it. This is the most important part of apartment hunting. So many people don’t read the lease in detail because it looks like a bunch of mumbo jumbo legal jargon. A lot of people just talk to the landlord and sign the lease without even looking twice at it. Don’t be one of these people! Do not put your name on a legal document without reading it very closely. If it helps, ask one of your parents to read it also, just for a fresh pair of eyes. There are often little tricks within leases that people miss.

If this is your first time searching for an apartment, ask some friends who currently live off-campus for advice. Ask them how they began their search, and if they can recommend any areas to go towards or any to stay away from. A lot of people also get realtors to help search for an apartment within their price range in different neighborhoods.

Don’t forget to search and compare—you shouldn’t say yes to the very first apartment you see! Be sure to check out multiple apartments to get a vibe of what you like and what you don’t like. Also, don’t be shy! Go ahead and knock on the neighbor’s door before you decide you want to move in. For all you know, the neighbors could be the deal breaker.

Looking for an apartment is very stressful, but don’t let that get in the way of all the excitement!