How to Find a Better Apartment: What I Did

Looking for a new apartment? You’ll probably consider the rent and condition of the apartment as being among the top of your requirements, but, if you look beyond the obvious considerations, you’ll raise the odds that you’ll have a better apartment. A number of years ago, I made the move from Southern California to Oregon. And, of course, I needed to find an apartment in the Portland area.

So, here’s an overview of what I did.

First, I did some preliminary research from Southern California via the internet. The internet is great for doing your initial research, because you can get information such as rents and amenities, and usually photos of the places you’re considering, and you can check up on more places in an hour than you can visit in a day, sometimes.  However, the internet is not infallible, and a visit in person is a must! I found a very likely prospect, at least at that time, on the internet and decided that it would be the first place I’d visit when I got to the Portland area.

I felt I had prepared well when I got to Portland to start apartment hunting in person. I’d made out a form of items to consider and questions to ask for any apartment complex I would be visiting. The form would help me greatly in many ways, as I’d listed items that few people who are looking for apartments would consider, such as what stores were nearby, and what parking was like, the layout, and if it had a balcony, as well as the obvious things, like rents and the condition of the apartment and the complex it was in. But the form, and the internet research I’d done still didn’t cover everything.

I visited that most promising complex I’d seen on the internet. Yes, the apartments and complex were neat and clean. But, it was off the freeway with the most heavy traffic and least accessibility to other areas in and around Portland, and the manager was very rigid. Also, the area was not very pedestrian friendly, and I do like to walk at times. None of these would have been revealed through the internet. And, I had neglected to include the walk ability of the area on my form. Lesson here, nothing can come close to telling you what an apartment and it’s surroundings are really like, the way a personal visit can and, when you visit, really, really consider everything the whole area provides concerning all of your needs and wants! Sure, you can make compromises, but you’ll be better informed, the more you really look at everything and not just the glitter! Also, while the landlord is interviewing you, you are also interviewing the landlord and, if they show any negative traits when you haven’t even become a tenant yet, and therefore, a prospective customer, how will they be when you are a tenant?

An apartment complex may be fine in itself, but how easy is it to get in and out with a car? I had noticed a few that I was thinking of checking out, but then noticed that the light rail line went down the middle of the street, thus forcing one to exit right only, so that, if they needed to go the other way, they would have had to have gone well out of their way to do it. Also the traffic was often heavy. And visitor parking was non-existent. At another complex I’d checked out, there was no assigned parking, so you would never be assured of a decent space. Lesson, the apartment may be great for you, but not your car.

This same complex featured apartments that did not have closet doors! The apartments were nice enough, but I do like for my closets to have doors, thank you! Layout can matter!

Then, sometimes the apartment you’re looking for isn’t even listed in the apartment hunting magazines and may not be easily found on the internet.

There was a small apartment complex that I kept passing in my apartment hunting travels and so I decided to stop and take a gander. It was clean, well maintained, the landlord was very pleasant, parking was great, the amenities were good, there was a balcony, covered parking, stores that I liked were close by, entry and egress for cars was easy. The only problem was a less than ideal placement of the bedroom and bathroom doors, so I applied, then continued hunting, but I realized no other places came as close, and so I found my apartment! Lesson here is, don’t just rely on the magazines and internet! Sometimes the gems are simply lying out there and you may be passing them by if you don’t keep an eye out in your travels.

So, here’s a short “to-do” list for the next apartment hunt if you needed to move, and, some of this would apply if you’re buying a house, also.

  1. Before starting your search, think of everything connected to your current home or apartment that you would miss, as well as those things you don’t like, regarding everything from layout to parking, to neighborhood and write them down. Put them on a form as amenities, things you require, and questions you would ask. While my form was incomplete, it still helped me greatly. Having a copy for each complex I visited helped me make important comparisons and also helped me remember which things to look for and which questions to ask.
  2. In addition to checking the internet and rental magazines and newspaper ads, also keep an eye out during your travels for those gems not listed.
  3. Don’t make a decision about any apartment until you’ve seen it in person.
  4. Don’t just look at the apartment, but also the complex, landlord, and surrounding neighborhood.

You may have things that you may want to add to this list, which is by no means, comprehensive, but I believe it can certainly help.

If you like what you’ve read, please let others know!

Good Luck in your search! And thanks for reading! 🙂

One thought on “How to Find a Better Apartment: What I Did

  1. Pingback: Moving Long Distance? Some Things to Do for a Successful Move | lifespaceblog

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