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31 Apartment Hunting Tips Everyone Needs To Know

Make finding a place to live less of a nightmare.

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Amy Sefton / BuzzFeed

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their best apartment hunting tricks. Here are some of their best responses:

1. Use your friends and extended network.

"Tell your friends you're looking! I found my super cheap, super cute, and super huge Santa Monica apartment through a coworker of a friend of a friend. Simple word of mouth can (at the very least) get you leads to places that would have gone off the market in seconds without a personal connection."—Nic DiMascio, Facebook
Universal Pictures

"Tell your friends you're looking! I found my super cheap, super cute, and super huge Santa Monica apartment through a coworker of a friend of a friend. Simple word of mouth can (at the very least) get you leads to places that would have gone off the market in seconds without a personal connection."

—Nic DiMascio, Facebook

2. Check your cell phone reception in every room.

"Walk through the entire place with your phone out. Nothing is worse than having to make every phone call outside (mostly because sometimes I don't want to wear pants)."—kylep4a8123a06
Twitter: @jillianaire

"Walk through the entire place with your phone out. Nothing is worse than having to make every phone call outside (mostly because sometimes I don't want to wear pants)."

kylep4a8123a06

3. Test out the shower.

Paramount Pictures / Via misstanwyck.tumblr.com

"Nothing is more disappointing than signing a lease only to discover you'll be washing your self under a trickle for a year."

—Trista Schwind, Facebook

4. Move during the winter.

"Lease an apartment in November, December, or January (when rent prices are lowest). If you have to move to a new city in the summer, sign a six month lease and start searching for deals in early October."—Brown Gill, Facebook
Warner Brothers

"Lease an apartment in November, December, or January (when rent prices are lowest). If you have to move to a new city in the summer, sign a six month lease and start searching for deals in early October."

—Brown Gill, Facebook

5. Figure out how much it will cost if you have a pet.

"Check if pet fees are a flat rate or dependent on the number of pets. Some places have a non-refundable fee of a few hundred dollars plus a $100+ deposit *PLUS* monthly pet rent per pet—it adds up fast. Also: find out whether the building bans specific breeds of dogs. Some complexes don't allow Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas, Chows, or German Shepherds (breeds that sometimes make it harder for the apartment community to get insurance)."—Samantha Holley Filkins, Facebook
officialgoblinlord.tumblr.com

"Check if pet fees are a flat rate or dependent on the number of pets. Some places have a non-refundable fee of a few hundred dollars plus a $100+ deposit *PLUS* monthly pet rent per pet—it adds up fast.

Also: find out whether the building bans specific breeds of dogs. Some complexes don't allow Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas, Chows, or German Shepherds (breeds that sometimes make it harder for the apartment community to get insurance)."

—Samantha Holley Filkins, Facebook

6. Look inside all of the cupboards, closets, and cabinets.

Disney

"Especially in the kitchen. This is often overlooked, but a quick check could save you tons of trouble. In two apartments I've found large holes in the walls right under the sink: unless you want to risk having a few rodents and insects as your new, non-contributing roommates, insist the landlord fix it prior to signing any lease."

jomonsta

7. Ask if you can spend a night or two in a place you're thinking about renting to give it a test drive.

"A lot of landlords with smaller apartment complexes will let you. I did that with the place I live in now: I've been here for three years and it's still super quiet."—Casey Stalnaker, Facebook
Twitter: @harto

"A lot of landlords with smaller apartment complexes will let you. I did that with the place I live in now: I've been here for three years and it's still super quiet."

—Casey Stalnaker, Facebook

8. Find out if your car insurance will go up if you move to a certain area.

"Call your insurance company to get a quote about what your car insurance will be in the new area (it DOES change based on where you live) and factor that into your budget (best case: it goes down). And while you have them on the phone, GET TENANT INSURANCE: it is soooooooo worth it!"—Sarah Diane, Facebook
Paramount Pictures

"Call your insurance company to get a quote about what your car insurance will be in the new area (it DOES change based on where you live) and factor that into your budget (best case: it goes down). And while you have them on the phone, GET TENANT INSURANCE: it is soooooooo worth it!"

—Sarah Diane, Facebook

9. Make sure your furniture will fit.

NBC

"Measure your big furniture (couches, beds, dressers, etc.) before you go hunting and then bring a tape measure with you to make sure your furniture will fit through the doors. That was a LIFE SAVER for us!

One time we were hunting and we really liked the place, but the front door opened right to the kitchen counter: we started measuring and realized that our piano wouldn't fit through—dealbreaker."

—Alyssa Jaderholm, Facebook

10. When it comes to the average electric or heating bill cost, don't necessarily trust the landlord's quote.

"Ask other tenants what their bills average before signing any lease. It may turn out that a place you thought seemed cheap is really beyond your budget."—Tanner Pittman, Facebook
Twitter: @beccaLader

"Ask other tenants what their bills average before signing any lease. It may turn out that a place you thought seemed cheap is really beyond your budget."

—Tanner Pittman, Facebook

11. Be realistic.

"Set some realistic standards and stick with them. For example, don't go look at a $5000 place with granite and stainless steel if you can only afford a small studio apartment that's over 20 years old. You're only setting yourself up for failure and disappointment if you don't."—amylynnm433301477
FOX

"Set some realistic standards and stick with them. For example, don't go look at a $5000 place with granite and stainless steel if you can only afford a small studio apartment that's over 20 years old. You're only setting yourself up for failure and disappointment if you don't."

amylynnm433301477

12. Actually. Read. The. Lease.

Disney

"Don't get trapped into something you'll regret later!"

—Katie Elizabeth Holland, Facebook

13. Drop by the building on a rainy day.

"Visiting during rainy weather will show you how the roof holds up, if the driveway floods, and if there are any leaks."—nerrot
Twitter: @Jordan_Morris

"Visiting during rainy weather will show you how the roof holds up, if the driveway floods, and if there are any leaks."

nerrot

14. Be morbid.

"As Billy Crystal's character suggested in When Harry Met Sally, look at the obituaries to see which apartments are recently vacated."—jaclyng4359dc641
Columbia Pictures

"As Billy Crystal's character suggested in When Harry Met Sally, look at the obituaries to see which apartments are recently vacated."

jaclyng4359dc641

15. Be sure all the outlets function.

Pixar

"I went on walk-throughs with a little lamp that I plugged into every socket to make sure it worked."

—Jill McWilliam, Facebook

16. If you have a good personality, USE IT.

"We live in San Diego where finding housing can be very, very tough. We went to check out a place we found on Hotpads and there were over 10 other people there looking at the apartment. What made the difference was actually striking up a conversation with the woman showing it."—shelbyd40f0a2daa
findmemes.com

"We live in San Diego where finding housing can be very, very tough. We went to check out a place we found on Hotpads and there were over 10 other people there looking at the apartment. What made the difference was actually striking up a conversation with the woman showing it."

shelbyd40f0a2daa

17. Scout out apartment buildings from your car.

http://schrutesfarm.tumblr.com/
http://schrutesfarm.tumblr.com/

"Drive around the city you want to live in and see what apartment complex attracts your eye *THEN* go online and check the place out. I did this and I'm currently living in my dream home. Just make sure that you know the estimated income rate of an area so you have an idea what the price of rent would be."

—Jodie Hurst, Facebook

18. Be prepared.

"Prepare for apartment hunt like you would for a job that you REALLY want to get. Have a packet ready to present that includes: proof of employment and recent pay stubs, references from past landlords (plus numbers to call), a short description of you and your hobbies, and a picture (which makes it easier for them to remember you)."—Kelly Ann , Facebook
Twitter: @RobertFaturechi

"Prepare for apartment hunt like you would for a job that you REALLY want to get. Have a packet ready to present that includes: proof of employment and recent pay stubs, references from past landlords (plus numbers to call), a short description of you and your hobbies, and a picture (which makes it easier for them to remember you)."

—Kelly Ann , Facebook

19. Stay on the same page as your significant other (or roommate).

http://willliamgraham.tumblr.com/post/97340547178/the-birdcage-1996
http://willliamgraham.tumblr.com/post/97340547178/the-birdcage-1996

"Whenever I look at places with my SO, I fill out my thoughts first, then ask him for his—without telling him what mine are (so we don't bias each other). Doing this has saved us from picking a place that one of us was not happy with many times."

—Sarah Diane, Facebook

20. If you're looking at apartment complexes, beware of bottom floor units.

"Plumbing is often arranged vertically spanning multiple floors, so if an upstairs neighbor flushes a wad of paper towels, it can get backed up into YOUR apartment. This happens far more frequently than you would expect. Ask questions about how the plumbing is arranged or request an apartment on one of the higher floors."—Lindsay Roland, Facebook
Universal Pictures

"Plumbing is often arranged vertically spanning multiple floors, so if an upstairs neighbor flushes a wad of paper towels, it can get backed up into YOUR apartment. This happens far more frequently than you would expect. Ask questions about how the plumbing is arranged or request an apartment on one of the higher floors."

—Lindsay Roland, Facebook

21. If you can move in right away, look for a vacant spot.

"Vacant units are losing income, so you can typically get a better deal for occupying it ASAP."—selenak42216f651
NBC

"Vacant units are losing income, so you can typically get a better deal for occupying it ASAP."

selenak42216f651

22. Enlist a friend to help you make good choices.

Cartoon Network

"Always, always, ALWAYS take a friend you trust with you when you go to look at an apartment. Specifically: one who won't allow you to make rash decisions."

ashljanay

23. Google apartment complexes and read the reviews.

"Pay attention to the negative ones, but use your judgement. If someone had one bad experience, they're going to complain about anything and everything, so you need to look out for people with similar complaints: bugs, crime, etc."—katif4cc714ab1
FOX / Via octopussoir-.tumblr.com

"Pay attention to the negative ones, but use your judgement. If someone had one bad experience, they're going to complain about anything and everything, so you need to look out for people with similar complaints: bugs, crime, etc."

katif4cc714ab1

24. Visit any place you're thinking about renting at night.

Disney / Via octopussoir-.tumblr.com

"Always come back and look at the place at night (when everyone is home)! That way you can get a feel for the other people in your complex, the parking situation, and how loud it actually is."

—Emily Kae, Facebook

25. Don't ignore the listings without photos.

"Sometimes they're just sitting there on Craigslist and Zillow because the home owner isn't tech savvy. Request photos. Sometimes the results are better than you'd anticipate."—Brenden Urick, Facebook
Twitter: @melsawaboy

"Sometimes they're just sitting there on Craigslist and Zillow because the home owner isn't tech savvy. Request photos. Sometimes the results are better than you'd anticipate."

—Brenden Urick, Facebook

26. Or the newspaper classifieds.

Columbia Pictures / Via nitratediva.tumblr.com

"These are usually the ones not posted online because they are usually owned by elderly people. I've always gotten a better deal and worked with even better people!"

bethanyh4e818fe62

27. Avoid living above a restaurant.

PBS / Via zambiunicorn.tumblr.com

"Even if the restaurant is clean, they'll produce a lot of food waste which will attract a lot of unwanted ~visitors~."

operator9

28. Scope out your possible neighbor's yards.

"If people take care of their gardens, then they probably care about the street and it means your neighbors are less likely to be a pain. My dad told me that years ago and it's never failed me."—Nikki Kidd, Facebook
New Line Cinema / Via orlandobloom.tumblr.com

"If people take care of their gardens, then they probably care about the street and it means your neighbors are less likely to be a pain. My dad told me that years ago and it's never failed me."

—Nikki Kidd, Facebook

29. Ask about the smoking policies or find out if you'll be living above (or below) a smoker.

Embassy Pictures / Via posthawk.tumblr.com

"It didn't even cross my mind to ask when I moved into the apartment I live in now, but there's a tenant that lives two floors directly below me and when he smokes in his apartment it filters up into mine (through the floorboard radiators and in through the window A/C units)."

wl2262

30. Go apartment hunting in the rain.

MGM

"No one in their right mind is bouncing around town looking at apartment after apartment when the weather is bad, and landlords are eager to lease out on days with little foot traffic. My apartment's rent was $150 lower a month just because I was the only interested person that came in on a dreary day in February!"

melmel074

31. 💰 💰 💰 💰 💰

Columbia Pictures / Via harrybelafontes.tumblr.com

"Be richer."

—Samantha Skidmore, Facebook

The comments for this post have been edited for length and clarity.

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