What to pay attention to when looking for an apartment? | homify

What to pay attention to when looking for an apartment?

Chloe Hines Chloe Hines
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When looking for an apartment, there are many considerations and checklists we should ponder before jumping right in.  A few on the top of the list are size, price and area.  These three items will also shift depending on your family situation – whether you're a single student, or have the responsibility of a full time job and a family to take care of. As we're sure you already know this – in a lot of situations, the size and price will depend on the area that you choose.

Once these top three items have beens settled on, then there's the smaller things to consider, like pet policies and a balcony, terrace or garage for parking your car in winter months. However, whereas some of these things might seem irrelevant to your list of wants we do suggest that you consider everything we've placed on the list below because you never know where your future might lead – and choosing an apartment in bad condition, or with a bad landlord can cause an unlimited amount of future headaches! We are here to help you avoid these problems!


The number one thing on most people's list while apartment searching is the size.  The size of your apartment can change depending on your neighborhood and price range – however, most of us have a general expectation of the kind of size we need to live our daily lives in comfort.

If you're searching for yourself, we suggest looking for a regular one-bedroom apartment (and unless you're ok with very small living, avoid studios.) If you tend to work predominately from home or would like an extra space for an in-home gym or hobby area, a two-bedroom would be great, but will certainly up your costs quite a bit.  It is a well known fact that the farther you go outside of the city-centre, the more affordable everything becomes. It is also a great idea to look at 'transitioning' neighborhoods – neighborhoods that were once a little rough and dangerous, but are slowly switching to those areas with the best cafes, coffee and vintage clothing stores.  Take a chance on neighborhoods like these, we promise in about five to six years your property value will increase ten-fold!

Remember, in apartment living, it's quite common to combine multiple spaces to give some extra room! Consider what this designer has done!


The area that one chooses to live in says a lot about them.  However, if more space for cheaper money is what you're after, then you need to give up the thought that you'll be in a perfect neighborhood. If you are renting an apartment with a family, then we suggest not being so lenient when it comes to neighborhoods and areas.  You want yourself, and your children safe, you want great areas, parks and trails to walk around and you also want easy access to downtown amenities or public transportation to work.

Recently there has been an increase in popularity of spreading out into neighborhoods and areas where one normally would not go, but with urban designers and city planners changing neighborhoods everyday with the right types of restaurants and shops – neighborhoods are quickly transitioning into hip areas. Take a chance on areas like these, you will have the pleasure of being an original member and watching these areas blossom into wonderful establishments and family-friendly activity zones!

City living has you feeling cramped? Try to find open-concept apartments, like the one seen here, that can combine lots of space, with a great city view!


Perhaps the most important item on this list today, the price. We all have our expectations, and then we all have our limits.  Of course, we are willing to budge a little bit – but we suggest no matter what, sticking closely to a set budget. Depending on where you live, you will always need to be realistic about your budget, and you should also be willing to sacrifice for that budget if it comes down to it.

Being below budget also has its advantages because the extra money can be spent on the new place! To stay at your price point – go see every apartment, even those that look bad in pictures! One issue a lot of renters have, is using their imagination to reinvent a space once they're moved in – this will be incredibly helpful for you prior to purchasing.

If keeping costs the lowest is your top concern, then forget downtown and city-centre living, you will need to stick along public transportation lines and move towards the suburbs to get the most bang for your buck!


This item on our list is one of the most overlooked, and it really shouldn't be.  Particularly with college students, post-graduates and young professionals looking to rent for the first or second time.  You tend to be busy, in a hurry and excited to start something new – but don't ever overlook the condition of an apartment.

Whether it's lack of water pressure, rust around water outlets, electrical issues, lack of ventilation or damaged carpet and walls – these are all things to be discussed with a landlord prior to move-in. If you find a great apartment in the right location and at the right price point – yet there are tons of superficial issues, make sure you get a signed guarantee from the landlord that these items will be fixed and ready to go prior to your moving in.  If the items on your list are not fixed before move-in dates, you have enough reason to deny the lease and not move in.  Don't ever sacrifice location or price for a below-average condition on any home.

Distance to public transportation

Depending on your work situation, it might be important for you to be at or near a public transit station.  You should also know that most of the time, this will up your rent and costs in general, or it could mean the opposite – that you're in a bad area. 

If you choose suburban living, then living near public transit could still mean good prices for a good amount of space. You should also calculate the price difference between living near your workplace and the cost of a monthly or quarterly pass – if you will need such a pass then this will definitely increase your costs, but probably not so much that it's worth it to live in the city-centre.


If you don't have pets, don't skip across this option on our list so quickly.  If you have ever considered having a pet, or think you might in the future, then it's better to consider apartment options that are pet-friendly for minimal costs.  Most apartments will handle pets one of two ways – either you pay a deposit upfront for the entire year, or you pay a monthly fee that's attached to your rent.  Calculating which one is cheaper is a smart idea.  These costs that pet owners owe typically include any cleaning and inconvenience fees that the landlords might have to take care of later down the line once you move out.

Also, if you don't have a pet and are sure you never will (due to allergies, or lack of time or interest) then think twice before entering into a pet-friendly building.  If you can't have pets for health reasons, understand that the tenant living there before you, or even earlier, could have had pets and the allergens will more than likely still be there no matter how often or well your landlord and maintenance team has carried out cleaning.  You will also be dealing with the occasional barking dog or urine smell when your neighbors pets have accidents.

Extras like balcony, garden, garage, etc;

In apartment living, it can seem rare to come across amazing extras like a balcony with a view (or a balcony at all), a garden, a rooftop terrace or garage parking.  When you come across extras like these, consider them seriously and make note of how often you will use them.  If the rent on the apartment is dramatically increased because of an extra like a balcony or rooftop garden, and you know you will never use these items, then it's better to forego a space like this.  It's wasted space and extra rent.  

These extras can be tempting, and if they're what you've always wanted, then take the apartment before someone else will! However, if it will just end up being unused space, make a smarter decision for your living situation! 

Don't think you'll get much use out of your balcony for entertaining purposes? Just remember you can use it for fresh herbs and plants as well like seen here!

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