The Best Apartment Hunting Advice, According To Reddit

published Jun 1, 2019
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“Our home was acquired by a family member who bought it sight unseen, and the first time we saw the interior of it was after a disappointing day of apartment hunting in Denver. Because the house was listed as a tear-down, this family member graciously offered to let my roommate and I stay in the home until demolition and new building plans were underway,” writes Madeleine.

With all due respect to the lonely swipers out there, apartment hunting may be even worse than dating. After moving eleven times and living the single life in Manhattan for six years, I should know. While true love can take its time, you sometimes need a new apartment tomorrow. You can’t wait around for a prince or princess charming (in the form of an in-unit washer/dryer) to sweep you off your feet. So, when you finally find one that checks the obvious boxes like location, price, four walls, and a ceiling, it can feel like you’ve finally found The One. But before you fork over first month’s rent, here are some of the best apartment hunting tips from Reddit. They’ll help you make sure you’ve actually found Apartment Right, not just Right Now.

Check behind the cabinets

“This sounds weird, but if you can manage to spy into that little crack between the cabinets and the walls, do it,” says Reddit user aswespiral. Why? Evidence of a pest infestation. While landlords can do a quick spray to de-bug home, but they’ll often miss the residue that piles up behind cabinets or in cracks.

Another place to look: The drawer under the oven. It’s one of rodents’ favorite places to hide.

Check the outlets

Several Redditors mentioned this small but important trick. This can be as simple as bringing your cell phone charger and cell phone with you. Plug into all the outlets to see if they work. This can also be a convenient way to check if there even are enough outlets. In older apartments, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens may not have enough outlets for modern demands.

And while this might not be a dealbreaker, it can be an important comparison among new places. You’ll be more content blow drying your hair in your bathroom instead of your bedroom. And who wants to unplug a light just to charge your phone at bedtime?

Safeguard your deposit—with evidence

At some point during move-in, walk through and photograph imperfections (floors, walls, appliances, etc.) so your deposit doesn’t get dinged. If you’re viewing an empty unit, do it during the application process. It’ll be easier than during (or after) the chaotic move-in process. One person even shared a handy checklist real estate agents use to give you an idea for the kinds of things to look for.

Ask why the unit is empty

Of course, it may be obvious if it’s a new building. But if it’s not, asking about the vacancy could be telling. If the current residents are moving out, ask them why. Bad management, pest problems, or outdoor noise are all common reasons tenants choose to move. Prevent counting down the months left on your lease with due diligence so there are no surprises after move-in.

Test the water pressure

This is a common piece of advice for renters and home hunters but bears repeating. Turning on the tap will allow you to test the water pressure and how long it takes to heat up. Is there a worse feeling than taking that first shower post move-in and realizing you’re in for a year of weak, tepid showers?

You can also bring a clear glass with you to check if the water is hard—something that might wreak havoc on your laundry and hair. If it’s an unoccupied unit the stream may run brown at first. Don’t worry, it’s usually a sign of harmless mineral build-up in the pipes—and could flush out after a few minutes. But if it continues to run brown, it could mean bigger problems, like the hot water heater needs to be replaced.

And speaking of water, here’s an interesting, less obvious tip: See how the sinks and tub drains. If there isn’t some kind of slant towards the drain, you’ll be battling water build-up (and mold).

Drive through at rush hour

Apartment hunting often takes place during lunch breaks and weekends. But if you have a commute, consider doing a “dry run” to get a sense for what your ride will be like.

Live in a competitive market and can’t waste time before submitting an application? If you’ve zeroed in on a neighborhood, do a sample commute even before looking at apartments.

Check your cell reception

This may seem like a tip for rural or remote places, but my friend who lives in the middle of New York City still has to leave her apartment to call me. This can also be a good time to find out what your apartment’s WiFi situation is like. Many rental units and neighborhoods are limited to one provider, which can be important to know up front. If the building or landlord provides internet, ask if you can test it out to see what the connection is like. So-so reception can be livable with smartphones if you’re okay with using WiFi-based messaging apps. But if your internet and cell reception are bad, you may find yourself stuck in an accidental off-the-grid experiment.

Bring a friend

And last, but maybe most important: Bring a friend. Even if you are moving with a partner or roommate, including a person who won’t live there can be invaluable. In the pressure to find a place, it’s easy to feel scrambled and disorganized. A neutral third party, on the other hand, will remember to peer into the closets or check the windows. Brokers may monopolize your time with their pitch, but your friend will be free to browse unobserved. Just be sure to buy them a drink or find another small way to show your appreciation once its all done.

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