14 Tips for Apartment Hunting with a Significant Other
Searching for a new apartment with a significant other can definitely pose a challenge. Or it can prove to be a bonding experience. Either way, we’ve figured out some tips to help you have the smoothest search possible. Follow our guidelines below to help ease the process of apartment hunting with a significant other.
1. Decide what each of you requires and wants from an apartment
Even if this isn’t the first time you and your partner will be living together, you should still discuss what you both are looking for in a place you want to call home. You are moving for a reason, and that reason could be anything: the wish to be closer to work, a desire for a bigger kitchen, or a need for an extra bedroom. Listing your requirements for a new apartment will also help you narrow down your search. Think of how you spend your day at home. Do you work from home? Or perhaps you love to cook? Maybe the shower is your zen zone? Certain rooms are likely to stand out to you more than others and they will matter to you in your new home.
For everything to be fair, make your lists independently of each-other, writing down things that you absolutely need in one column, and things that you’d like the new place to have in another. Compare and contrast your ideas and look for the best fit. You might have to compromise, but at least you will be clear on what is being weighed in the decision.
2. Be honest and be prepared to disagree
You’ve found a place that has wooden floors and a fireplace, and you’re beaming. In your mind, you already know exactly what couch will perfectly sit the two of you by the fireside. So, you keep quiet about the fact that the kitchen is too small for your liking, and you’d rather check out more apartments. It is absolutely natural for you to not want to hurt your partner’s feelings. Yet, think of it this way: you keeping your honest opinion to yourself defeats you having made your lists in Step 1. Plus, in the long run your feelings about that small kitchen will spill and might cause a bigger conflict.
3. Calculate initial moving fees
After you have gone through the task of budgeting for your apartment, you’ll need to start thinking about the costs associated with moving fees. Think: Movers, PODS, etc. Unfortunately, since initial moving fees vary greatly, you’ll likely have to establish a relatively flexible budget for this area of costs.
Typically, when you apply for your new apartment you can anticipate paying for application fees and processing fees. Generally speaking, these fees can be anywhere from $30 to $50. Of course, this range is based upon your area, type of apartment, as well as other factors.
After the initial moving fees will come to your security deposits. Several deposits may be involved in your rental process, so make sure you understand the terms of each. You should be able to clearly understand all of this information through the details listed in your rental agreement. If you have any questions, always ask your landlord before making any payments.
On average, a security deposit for your apartment will likely be anywhere from one to three months worth of rent. In most instances, you can expect to pay one month’s rent as a security deposit. Since this can be a big chunk of money, it’s not an expense you’ll want to overlook.
In some circumstances, your prospective landlord might charge you for credit and background check fees. Although these are less common, they are not entirely unheard of, so be sure you check with your landlord first.
Don’t forget that when it comes to credit checks, your credit score might also be impacted. Check with your landlord to see if they will conduct a soft credit history pull, which will not impact your credit score at all.
4. Settle on what items you want to get rid of during the move
Prior to moving, discuss what furniture you’re keeping, which items you’re tossing, and what memorabilia is staying with you. Not only is this important for a calmer move, but you will also know exactly how much space you’ll need your new apartment to have.
5. Location is just as important as the place itself
Neither of you wants to stand in traffic for 3 hours a day just to get to and from work. To make both of you as equally available as possible, in case of emergency, unforeseen developments, or just to walk the dog, try to find a location that’s optimal for both of you. The surrounding area near your future home is extremely important. Consider how close or far spots such as a grocery store, hospital, or even a laundromat are.
6. Think about parking
Whether you share a car or each prospective tenant has their own car, you’ll want to make sure you have a parking place at home that is safe and accessible. Even if there is parking available at your apartment, you don’t want to go into your agreement assuming the parking is free. Always be sure to ask about any potential parking fees upfront.
A few questions you’ll want to get answers to before you sign your lease agreement may be:
- What is the current parking situation at this apartment?
- Is it tandem parking?
- How many parking spaces are available?
- Is guest parking available?
- Is there a secure parking garage?
- Is there assigned parking?
- How much does parking cost?
Parking is always important, though it can become an even higher priority when you are shopping around for two. Parking can be pretty challenging, especially in larger cities, so knowing whether your apartment includes parking in the monthly rent can have a significant impact on your apartment budget.
7. Talk of the budget
You and your partner probably don’t have identical jobs and salaries. Discuss how you will be paying for the apartment and how much each of you can afford. Remember to include utility bills and other bills when talking about budgeting. This will also help you keep in mind all the extra expenses and narrow down your options.
8. Check both of your credit scores
This one may seem obvious, but check that you can afford the places you’re looking at. You and your landlord want to be sure that you will not default on your rent payments. Checking your credit scores ahead of time will give you a good understanding of what you can expect in your apartment application process. Will you need a cosigner? Are there any red flags to explain in your credit history? Knowing the answer to these questions and more are all things that a timely credit check can alert you to.
9. Make one of you the contact person
You’re probably going to be applying to a few properties when apartment hunting with your significant other. If both of you are receiving phone calls from all of them, things might get a little confusing. If you have quite a few properties you’re attempting to secure an apartment with, you can split them evenly between the two of you. For example, if there are ten landlords you’re dealing with, have five of them reach out to you, and five to your partner.
10. Tour only when both of you can make it
Both of you need to see the place. Otherwise, you run the risk of one of you falling in love with an apartment, talking it up to the other partner, and then realizing that it was actually a good fit only for one of you. Plus, the two of you probably have had your own fair share of apartment experiences or household inconvenience. So, while touring one of you might notice or ask something that the other didn’t think of. It’s always good to have an extra set of eyes around.
Learn which questions you should ask when renting an apartment.
11. Remember to have your pet’s documents ready
We all love our pets, they’re part of our family. Maybe you’re thinking about getting a fur baby once you move. Maybe one of the reasons you’re moving is to find a pet-friendly apartment! Whatever the reason is, don’t forget to ask whether the places you’re checking out are pet friendly.
If you’re moving with a pet, remember to have their paperwork ready for your potential landlord. With all the forms you need to gather during a move it is easy to forget that your fully best friends also has paperwork that your landlord might like to see.
12. List your top choices
Once you’ve looked at all of the prospective places, have each of you make an independent list of top three apartments and discuss. You’ll most likely have a least one you overlap on.
13. Winter is the best time to apartment hunt
When you start your apartment hunt, you’ll want to be mindful of the seasonality of the rental housing market. As a general rule of thumb, the gradual increase of rental searches begins around New Year’s. For many people, New Year’s marks a time to refocus their attention on their quality of life, which for most means making updates to their current living conditions.
As December and January roll around, people start to hunt for apartments. The hunt gradually increases until it peaks in July when kids are out of school and people can move around more easily. Having an idea about seasonality could help you save money in the long run when it comes to finding your perfect apartment.
Since the peak of the rental search is in July, when prices are at their highest, the natural lowest demand for the rental search is in the winter. December and January are just when things begin to pick back up, acting as an excellent time to start your search and find a great price at the same time.
Since vacancies tend to be at their lowest during this time, many landlords and property managers are more likely to be flexible in pricing just to get their apartments filled. Because the winter means there are more available units, you will have more flexibility for negotiation.
The only downside to searching for an apartment during this time is you might not have as many options to look through as you would in the warmer months. If you have options, then winter might not be the best time for you. However, if your budget is tight, the winter is an ideal time for your apartment hunt.
14. Protect yourself from rental scams
It’s sad to say, but rental scams are out there. When you start your apartment hunt with your significant other, you’ll want to make sure that you both are aware they exist so you can be careful not to fall victim to them.
According to Apartment List, 34.1% of Boston renters have encountered fraudulent apartment listings. Even more disappointing to hear is that 7% of them lost money due to these rental scams.
There are countless different types of rental fraud, here are a few of the most common to look out for:
- Already leased
- Missing amenities
- Hijacked ads
- Phantom rentals
- Bait and switch
Make sure you and your significant other are aware and figure out how to avoid rental fraud scams to stay safe.