9 Things You Should Never Assume About A New Apartment

published Sep 21, 2019
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Imagine it: After weeks frantically searching listings, you finally find the perfect place. You set up a showing, submit the application, and get that blissful approval! Finally, moving day arrives and you’re ready to kick up your feet and holler “home sweet home!” But, oh, the horror! The internet’s nonexistent. Your cell gets no reception. And there’s beaucoup wear and tear.

Though we agree that these shouldn’t be problems in 2k19, you know what they say when you assume: You make… well, you know. Don’t let unwelcome surprises greet you in your new home—add these 9 helpful insider tips to your rental checklist, and you’ll be unpacking stress-free in no time:

You’ll know who to contact, when

“With all the excitement around finding a new home, it’s easy to forget the practical and mundane things that will make your first few days go smoothly,” says Ericka Rios, principal and director of leasing for Downtown Realty Company in Chicago.

Rios recommends requesting key numbers, both emergency and non-emergency, for your landlord or management company: “From a water leak that requires immediate attention to a cabinet knob that needs to be replaced, know who to call to get the help you need.”

Your electricity, gas, and water will be functioning

Rios also warns that, depending on how long the unit was unoccupied, you may need assistance turning on water, accessing the circuit breaker, or flipping on the gas valve.

Your unit looks just like all the others

Though other units in the building are listed as newly-constructed or rehabbed, never assume your unit will be, too, says Hannah Hackman, a property manager with Fulton Grace in Chicago. Always make sure you see your exact unit before you sign a lease!

Your unit is set up for internet

I had a friend recently move into an apartment building that advertised its affiliation with a certain telecommunications brand. She assumed this meant that her cable and internet would essentially be plug-and-play. However, when she moved in, she found out that the previous tenant of many years never had cable! So not only did she have to deal with the time and expensive of an installation, she had to let the cable company drill a hole through her wall!

Your utilities will cost the same as in your old place

Speaking of cable, Elise Jordan, a loan originator with NRL Mortgage in Chicago has some crucial tips as well: “Many buildings have exclusive contracts with cable/internet providers, meaning that you are effectively pigeon-holed into using a specific company.” The result? Providers aren’t competing on price.

To prevent the shock of an astronomically high bill, Jordan recommends doing some reconnaissance: “Whenever you move into a new building, it’s okay to ask fellow residents about their utility bills to get an idea of what you are in for.”

Your furniture will fit through the doors (and in your space)

Sad but true: Many doorways (and hallways!) are surprisingly narrow, meaning it’s simply physically impossible for many bulky furniture items to get into your space. Save yourself the frustration and measure your door frames as well as all of your furniture!

And just because your furniture fits into your apartment doesn’t mean it fits in your apartment—both proportionally or aesthetically. Jordan recommends budgeting for this too, in addition to those moving day expenses.

The building is pet-friendly

Yes, your building may allow pets to live there—but does it actually have the amenities to support a good lifestyle for your furry friends? Rios recommends that pet parents ask about green space and other needed facilities before they commit to living there.

Everything operates according to common sense

Multi-family buildings and condos often have their own set of rules, regulations, and bylaws, says Jordan. Make sure you actually read it to prevent any unnecessary drama.

“Fines for violations can be huge and you don’t want to risk losing your place over something that could have easily been avoided,” she says.

Your rent is the price you’ll pay monthly

Some management companies now only accept online payments. More convenient than sending a check every month? Of course. But, annoyingly, this ease may come with additional fees that jack up your monthly dues (more like monthly don’ts, am I right?)

Got all these squared away? Congrats! We’re here to make your moving day as easy as possible: Here, the 109 best moving tips of all time.

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