Moving into a new apartment, whether it’s your first place, you’re upgrading, or you’re moving in with someone new, can be a fun and exciting experience. It can also be fraught with potential problems if you’re not careful.
Luckily, when it comes to keeping your move as uneventful as possible, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. With a simple checklist as your guide, you can avoid some of the worst potential issues when leasing a new apartment.
Keep reading to learn about 8 things you should look for in a new apartment.
1. General Safety and Security Features
Your safety is an important consideration when choosing a place to live. Even if you search in low-crime areas, it’s best to look for a variety of safety features before signing the lease.
In the apartment, make sure windows and doors open and close easily, and that locks are robust and latch securely. Check that the apartment has working smoke detectors, and if required, CO2 detectors. Look for a sprinkler system and ask about the location of fire extinguishers.
Learn what you can about fire escape routes and check for bright lighting in stairwells, hallways, parking areas, and on the building’s exterior. Don’t forget to ask about other security features like surveillance (video) and patrols.
2. Check the Plumbing and Electrical
This is especially important in older buildings that may not have updated their plumbing and electrical systems in years (or decades). As you walk through the apartment, flush the toilets and turn on every faucet to make sure hot and cold taps work and the water runs clear. Watch for drips and look under faucets for leaks.
You should also check the electrical throughout. Simply bring your mobile charger and plug your phone into every outlet. Flip every light switch and ask if you can check any included appliances.
3. Check Heating and Cooling
Whether your area experiences intense summer heat or frigid winter temps (or both), you want to make sure you have adequate temperature controls. Run the heat and AC to make sure the system is strong and that dust isn’t puffing out of vents — a sign they haven’t been regularly cleaned and maintained.
Most states require landlords to provide heat under the umbrella of “safe and habitable conditions” but this doesn’t always include AC. If this is the case, ask if you’re allowed to install a window unit.
4. No Signs of Water Damage and Mold
If an apartment has suffered (or continues to suffer) water damage, the result can be significant health and safety hazards like rot and mold. Make sure to check ceilings, walls, and flooring, as well as inside cabinets, for water damage, dampness, and mold.
These issues may require professional mold remediation that can make it Like it never even happened and ensure a healthy and habitable living space.
5. No Pests or Pest Damage
While you’re poking around in the cabinets, look for signs of recent or current pest activity, including bug carcasses, rodent droppings, and nesting. Keep an eye out for traps in the apartment and around the property that could indicate ongoing problems.
6. Adequate Storage
Storage can be a major issue when living in a small apartment, and in most states, the definition of a bedroom does not include a closet. Think about what you need to store and how you’ll do it with the available closet space, cabinets, and drawers provided.
If storage is not adequate, you’ll have to add your own, so make sure there’s enough square footage to accommodate your needs.
The best apartment in the world may not be a very good deal if doorways, halls, stairwells, or elevators won’t accommodate the furnishings you need to move in. Take measurements of everything to verify that you can get larger pieces into the apartment and its rooms.
8. Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is one thing many people fail to consider, but it can have a significant impact on your ability to enjoy your living space. Is your apartment near train tracks or located along a flight path? Is there a school, daycare, park, or playground nearby? Are the walls so thin you can hear the neighbors breathe?
Stand still and listen for a few minutes to see what you can hear. It could make the difference between sleepless nights and a home where you can relax in peace and quiet.