Apartment Hunting: Part Two

Looking for an apartment can be an overwhelming experience if you’re doing it for the first time.  Earlier this week I shared some of the pitfalls to watch for while searching and here are just a few more…

Furnished or Unfurnished?

Are you moving out for the summer only to go back to a cramped dorm over the school year?  Consider getting a furnished apartment.  Just stocking a kitchen can add up very quickly even if you buy the cheapest things you can find.  To make matters worse you will have to throw or give away most of the items when you move back into the dorms.  Storing whisks, pans, potholders, colanders, knives, plates, silverware, measuring cups/spoons, food storage containers…. You get the idea, it adds up!


Your Landlord and You

Above all, get everything in writing!  Landlords can be very tricky, so assume the worst and hope for the best!  I once rented an apartment from what seemed like a very nice old woman but when move-out time came around, she became very stingy about giving our security deposit back, even insisting that we pay to have a rug cleaned that was stained from the day we moved in!  What was obviously a cheap $5 pan she got at a garage sale became a $50 top-of-the line frying pan on our itemized security deposit list.  In other words, take pictures of the apartment beforehand, and both you and the landlord should sign off and date the photos.  Your landlord might give you a hard time, but don’t fall for the act.  Seriously, be tough and stand your ground!  It can mean the difference between getting your deposit back and not—hopefully it never comes to that, but watch an episode or two of People’s Court and you will have an idea of some of the ridiculous things both landlords and tenants try to do to save money.  Landlords are trying to protect themselves from you with the lease.  Do your part to protect yourself.

A landlord can make or break your rental experience over the summer.  Imagine that your toilet keeps backing up but your landlord doesn’t get back to you for a couple of days after each phone call—when they finally do respond it’s with some drain-o and a toilet snake! (and not maintenance man).  Or you get a water leak and your things get damaged.  A conscientious landlord will respond quickly—a bad one won’t care at all about your damaged stuff.  It’s not their responsibility to pay for it after all!


Other Ways to Save Money

Hulu plus accounts and Netflix have saved my roommates and I a lot of money in cable costs recently.  I’ve found that if I get the lowest cable plan I don’t get the channels I want anyway.   So you wind up paying $70 for T.V. a month.  That’s over a week’s worth of groceries or 2.5 tanks of gas!

Happy hunting!


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Apartment Hunting: Part One

Looking for an apartment can be an overwhelming experience if you’re doing it for the first time.  Here’s how to start and the pitfalls to watch out for!


You open the classified and see an apartment for an amazing price.  The only problem?  The area of town is not the greatest, and it’s a high crime area.  I’ve had friends make this mistake and they had break-ins and items stolen.  Plus, they had to sacrifice peace of mind.  As a young adult, our schedules are conducive to late nights out–right when crime levels reach their peak.  If you absolutely cannot swing an apartment in a safe area, check out this website to find out where your neighborhood ranks in the area:

With gas prices as high as they are, another factor to consider is how far away all your basic stops are: your job, grocery stores, your best buds.  A good rule of thumb is to get those three things within a 25-mile radius if possible.  The last thing you need on an intern’s salary is to be driving all the way across town daily!



Utilities will cost much more than you think. You’ll have to ask exactly what it includes. Be sure to ask about: heat, water, cable, electricity, internet, sewage, trash, gas, security, maintenance, telephone, and then ask if there is anything else (so you don’t get trapped in hidden fees).

As a rule of thumb, “all utilities included” means water, gas, and/or electric (but double check with your landlords). Usually, it doesn’t mean cable, telephone, and internet are included, but sometimes the apartment complex will add them. Just be sure to ask.

If you can make it happen, sharing Internet is something I have done in apartments I’ve rented in the past.  One person has a router, gives the other tenants the password and then we all use that wireless and share the bill.  This can be risky for whoever has the router, but if everyone can give a good amount up-front, the benefits far outweigh the risk.


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