Here are the five key points we found ourselves looking at when shopping for this, as well as past, city apartments.
Location was a very important, if not the most important, factor for us. It can make or break the experience you have in a city. Factors such as proximity to shops and restaurants, what the neighbors are like, noise and safety all factor into the decision making process. The path from your front door to the nearest public transportation is also key — you can live on a great block but still have to pass through some really sketchy areas as a part of your regular commute.
We have both lived in very compact city apartments over the years, but need to be sure we have enough space to where we can each have a little alone time and not constantly be on top of each other. The dogs' needs as well as the fact that I work out of a home office also factor into this one.
This is a very personal and situationally specific one. While the general rules about what percentage of your income should be spent on living expenses are great, in some markets they just aren't doable. We came up with a general range of what we could spend and aimed for the lowest rent possible without sacrificing to many of the other points.
Leaky pipes, mold, and drafty windows all can be easy to overlook when checking a place out, but can have a long term affect on your general comfort and health. Checking bathrooms ceilings, underneath sinks, windows and appliances, as well as asking about how maintenance on the property is dealt with, can save you a lot of future grief.
This might seem like an afterthought but can be a deal-breaker on even a great place that hits all of the other points. We share a car, so garage parking or a space would be great, but otherwise it's important to find out what the street parking is like and if there are any affordable garages nearby that you could use. Close proximity to public transportation with a safe path that you would feel comfortable walking at night is also important.
If you have any points of your own, feel free to add them in the comments below.
(Image: via Kim Lucian)