New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment in Utah || 7 Tips

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New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

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So, this last year, I went on an EPIC journey to find my new apartment. Looking around online, I couldn’t find a lot of SUPER in-depth info or a “New Apartment Guide” blog, everything was pretty 101 – and honestly all the websites I found clearly just rephrased the words of each other.

As I was flailing about, I said to myself, “I’m totally going to write IN-DEPTH blog posts and tips and a new apartment guide on how to do this, because this is NO FUN.”

So, today (while sitting in my beautiful new apartment), I’m going to go all in and share my tips on how to find a new apartment.

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment
Hi, I’m Brianne Huntsman (she/her) – AKA “The Huntswoman”! I’m a lifestyle blogger, business owner and creative! Learn more about me and my blog here!

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

Before we get started, I want to share a few things – so you know whether this guide is for you.

I can’t be an expert on everything after all!

This New Apartment Guide is for folks who:

  • Are planning on renting a whole apartment (aren’t just looking to rent 1 bedroom in an apartment)
  • Have income to get what they want (or close to it)
  • Are looking to rent an apartment in an apartment complex – not a house or smaller building

I realize this list might make me sound a little snooty, and that’s not my goal! Rather, I want to acknowledge what I was looking for (and the privilege there) to offer useful advice. If I didn’t bring these 3 things up now, folks may get through half of the post and then be mad that my tips + experience aren’t relevant to them.

Okay, now that I got that all out of the way, let’s talk about the 7 tips on how to find a new apartment!

Tip #1: How to Look for a New Apartment – Check-In Questions

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

Before getting started looking, it’s important to take a step back ask yourself, “What do I want in a new apartment?”

“What features do I want in a new apartment?”

Close your eyes (okay, not really, we need those to read this post lol). Take a minute and imagine yourself in your new apartment. What number of bedrooms/bathrooms do you want? What amenities?

I had an idea, but not really, when I first started, so here’s a list of amenities that might matter to you:

  • Pool or Hot Tub (Do hours matter?)
  • Specific setup to get mail
  • Gym (What specific machines do you want?)
  • Security Features (security cameras, security onsite 24/7 or security patrol)
  • Building Access (Do you want to have keycard or code access to get in the building?)
  • Parking (Do you want covered parking or a garage?)
  • Home security system for apartment
  • In-unit washer/dryer
  • Dog park nearby
  • Dishwasher
  • 24-hour emergency maintenance
  • Grilling stations or fire pit
  • Clubhouse or community spaces
  • Recycling program
  • Garbage chutes/dumpster access

From here, you can boot up Apartments.com to look at apartments in your area, narrowing down the search results based on these amenities.

Tip #2: How to Look for a New Apartment – Location

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

Because I’m self-employed, what mattered most to me was having a home office, espresso machine and being within 10 minutes of Starbucks. I also knew that I wanted to be super close to a freeway onramp.

Now, let’s talk about you! What places do you go to a lot? Do you want to be near the office? A school or university? A gym or other place you like to hang out?

Ask yourself, “How can I strategize on. my apartment location, so I can minimize my time spent driving?”

“How can I strategically choose my apartment’s location, so I can minimize my time spent driving?”

We modern humans spend a lot of time driving, and one’s happiness can increase dramatically with a shorter commute! So, how can you narrow your search by focusing on a location?

Also, are there any cities or landmarks you want to avoid? I made sure to avoid apartment buildings around sports stadiums, as I’m not super into sports and don’t want to deal with that traffic!

Tip #3: How to Look for a New Apartment – Google Spreadsheet FTW

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

When I first started my apartment search, I literally went to Apartments.com and started calling places.

Smh.

Instead, I recommend creating a google spreadsheet, where you name columns:

  • Name (This is the name of the apartment complex)
  • # of bedrooms
  • # of bathrooms
  • Square feet
  • (Then name a few columns after amenities you want, so you can put an “X” if the apartment complex has these)
  • Phone number to leasing office
  • Google Reviews (This is where you can read online reviews and paste any bad ones that make you have questions)
  • Contacted
  • Tour
  • Tour thoughts

It’s SUPER easy to get apartment complexes mixed up after you tour a few, so having a spreadsheet where you can jot down your thoughts is important.

I like to read through reviews before going on a tour, as seeing good/bad reviews helps prioritize what complex to see first, and what questions to ask.

I made sure to look for reviews on:

  • Apartments.com
  • yelp
  • Facebook page
  • Google Reviews

(^If you find a lot of apartment reviews on each site, make a separate column for each on your spreadsheet.)

I wish I had done this earlier in my apartment search, as it would’ve saved me so much time.

As you tour apartment complexes, you can gray out (or cross out) the cells of apartments that are a NO GO. I highlighted my favorite apartments in green, using the paint can icon to highlight the whole row.

I might make a printable for like $10 on this, so drop me a message if I should make one available to purchase!

Tip #4: How to Look for a New Apartment – Believe Red Flags

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

Before I started my apartment search, I made sure to ask other folks I knew, “What mistakes did you make when looking for an apartment?”

I learned a lot of stuff (hence doing a blog post series that make up a new apartment guide, lol), and an overarching theme was this:

Believe red flags.

People had horror stories and not-so-great stories about apartment complexes, where they noticed a red flag – and ignored it.

Believe red flags.

A red flag can be different to different kinds of folks, so here were my red flags:

  • Apartment management or leasing office missing appointments **
  • Political flags or signs for politicians known for their negative view of LGBT people
  • A lot of kids playing in parking lots ***
  • Maintenance clearly needed in community areas
  • Pressuring you to put down a deposit
  • Cars parked in spots that clearly aren’t parking spots (shows a possible lack of parking)

** For this one, I immediately crossed off apartment complexes if the management office messed up my appointment. Apartment showings are when a management company is most organized and on their best behavior. It’s like a first date. If they can’t get it together for this, then we’re not a fit!

*** Kids playing in a a parking lot is a safety issue!

Don’t try to explain the red flag away or talk yourself out of naming a red flag. Trust your gut!

Tip #5: How to Look for a New Apartment – Just Leave

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

Here’s a hot tip: Don’t finish (or start) an apartment tour if you’re not interested any more.

Save your time and leave the appointment. For a few apartment complex tours, I didn’t even make it to the leasing office. I drove into the parking lot, saw a bunch of issues – and then left. Remember, you can cancel or leave a tour early if the apartment complex isn’t a fit.

Save your time and leave the apartment tour appointment.

Be polite when you do it (I made up an excuse), but remember that your time is a finite resource.

Save your time and leave: For a few apartment complex tours, I didn’t even make it to the leasing office. I drove into the parking lot, saw a bunch of issues – and then left. Remember, you can cancel or leave a tour early if the apartment complex isn’t a fit.

Be polite when you do it (I made up an excuse), but remember that your time is a finite resource.

Tip #6: How to Look for a New Apartment – Narrow Down to Top 3 or Top 5

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

I spent a of time looking for a new apartment, and I ended up with a clear #1 winner of where I wanted to live. But, most folks will have a top 3 or top 5.

I find it’s easiest to narrow down your list by visiting the complex at different hours.

Tip: Drive through the apartment complex at different times and days!

Before signing on my lease, I made drive through the parking lot of my apartment complex on:

  • Friday night
  • Saturday night
  • Saturday morning
  • Weekday afternoon
  • Weekday morning
  • Weekday evening

Doing this showed me how busy or quiet the complex was (and note on number of parties happening), and I was able to note which buildings didn’t want to live in.

If you do this be sure to take notes in your spreadsheet on what you find!

Tip #7: How to Look for a New Apartment – Ask Questions in Writing

New Apartment Guide: How to Look for a New Apartment

Something I learned while touring apartment complexes is that not all leasing agents are created equal. Some will stretch the truth to get you to rent.

Because of this, I sent a follow-up email after each showing with the following questions. It’s easy to keep track of info in an email, and documentation is super important!

Get answers to your questions in WRITING.

Questions:

  • What is the average response time for a maintenance request?
  • Do you have an estimate on the monthly bills for water, gas, electric?
  • How do you make sure there’s enough parking for all tenants? Does the complex contract with a towing company?
  • What kind of security is onsite?
  • What are the pool and fitness center hours?
  • By what % has the rent increased by, as compared to this time last year?
  • How often are the smoke alarms in the unit tested?
  • How often does the complex get sprayed for bugs along the exterior of the building?
  • Can you send an example of an average monthly bill, complete with line items for rent and other fees that might be charged?

These are questions that I ask before seeing a lease! We’re looking for red flags.

More Apartment Guide blog posts –>

Ok, there’s my list of tips on how to look for a new apartment! Here are other blog posts to check out:

new apartment checklist

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