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Posted: 9/3/2010 7:59:56 PM EDT
I'm on the road to getting my first apartment and wanted to get the hive's opinion on things to look for and to avoid in an apartment.

Was looking for a house and had the budget for it too, but just can't find anything that I'm comfortable investing so much money and time into.

Anyways, a few things I have already thought about...

No dogs - I don't want to hear barking late at night while I'm trying to sleep.
Covered parking

Anything else to look for or avoid?
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:03:04 PM EDT
Illegals
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:03:48 PM EDT
See if you can meet the neighbors.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:03:52 PM EDT
Originally Posted By imdandman:
I'm on the road to getting my first apartment and wanted to get the hive's opinion on things to look for and to avoid in an apartment.

Was looking for a house and had the budget for it too, but just can't find anything that I'm comfortable investing so much money and time into.

Anyways, a few things I have already thought about...

No dogs - I don't want to hear barking late at night while I'm trying to sleep.
Covered parking

Anything else to look for or avoid?


As a landlord all I can say is stay within your budget and always, always, pay on time. The way I keep my yards reflects how i maintain the units plumbing and such. Perfect. Meet your landlord. Nice person?
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:04:13 PM EDT
can you look out of a window and see your vehicle?
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:07:20 PM EDT
I don't know what the rental availability is in your area, but if you have the choice, I vastly prefer a flat to an apartment, if for no other reason than you only have one neighbor to deal with.

If you have the choice, and don't carry a lot of stuff around much, take the upper. people walking around below you are much less noticeable than people moving about over your head.

I personally prefer to rent directly from the owner rather than living in a complex and renting from a company. The drawback is probably going to be maintenance, but I'm pretty handy, and most landlords I've had have just had me do the work, and take it off my rent. YMMV.

Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:08:18 PM EDT
Originally Posted By timco:
Originally Posted By imdandman:
I'm on the road to getting my first apartment and wanted to get the hive's opinion on things to look for and to avoid in an apartment.

Was looking for a house and had the budget for it too, but just can't find anything that I'm comfortable investing so much money and time into.

Anyways, a few things I have already thought about...

No dogs - I don't want to hear barking late at night while I'm trying to sleep.
Covered parking

Anything else to look for or avoid?


As a landlord all I can say is stay within your budget and always, always, pay on time. The way I keep my yards reflects how i maintain the units plumbing and such. Perfect. Meet your landlord. Nice person?


By getting an apartment we will be a few hundred bucks a month under what we budgeted for a home mortgage, so paying should not be a problem. Especially if I can set up some type of automated withdrawal.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:09:00 PM EDT
- Covered parking (preferrably a basement or ground level garage with a gate)
- Don't get a top floor unit. Apartment complexes are typically flat roofed, which means little to no insulation between your ceiling, and the gigantic solar radiation collector above it.
- Get an apartment with windows on both sides. This allows a breezeway of sorts, to keep yourself cool.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:09:54 PM EDT
One of my rentals is a duplex. I used to live in one side. Like your own house and a yard. Better than apartment building.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:11:39 PM EDT
Neighbors and I like to be able to see my truck. Also top floor if you don't like hearing people stomping around in the wee hours of the morning.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:13:41 PM EDT
Drive through the complex and see if there are any able bodied 'unemployed' people hanging around in the middle of the day. Those type people don't have anything to do while you are at work, away from your place. They're just waiting for the working stiff to go to work, so they can engage in a little B&E.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:14:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/3/2010 8:14:53 PM EDT by Barrelburner]
Well let's see...what could have been better in the apartment that I once lived in:
A dishwasher
A back patio
covered parking/garage
central heat/air
washer/dryer in the unit

The place was gated and I didn't live on the ground floor, both of which increase security.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:17:01 PM EDT
Drive through the parking lot at 2PM and see how full it is.
Take note of the amount of "rims" on said cars.

As for the actual apartment, the only must for me is a washer/dryer hookup...I refuse to use a landromat.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:19:03 PM EDT
LIVE ON THE TOP FLOOR.
Having people below you is infinetly better than having people above you. Most people are REAL ASSHOLES about slamming doors, playing music, stomping around going between the fridge and couch etc.
I had a neighbor above me for about a year that went to bed about 30 minutes after me and woke up about 30 minutes before me and everytime that asshole jumped in/out of bed I could hear it when he was stomping around his room.
Drove me absolutely nuts because I'm a very light sleeper.
Also try and find a corner unit so you don't have people all around you either.
Make sure to reaaaaaaally get a good look at the place you're moving into and check out the SMELLS. Nothing worse than signing a year lease on a place that had a balacony view that blew you away enough to ignore the fact the master bedroom smelled like cat piss.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:25:00 PM EDT
If you're in reasonably good shape, attractive neighbors who would come to you first thing to have some furniture moved.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:27:05 PM EDT
If it's stick construction, I'd walk. You'll hear every noise in the place. If it's 100% concrete, I'd be happy.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:28:55 PM EDT
Pay attention to how well the grounds and offices are kept... attention to detail and pride go further than that.

Check the places out at different times of day, on different days. Mid-afternoon, and about midnight. Through the week, and check on the weekens, too.

Neighbors are hit and miss... feel free to ask about them, but you'll get real answers from the Maintenance people if you can talk to them.

They know who the dirtbags are, and should have no problem saying "You might like unit XXX, then" if you tell 'em what you are looking for.

Try to stay away from 30 year old buildings...
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:34:43 PM EDT
defiantly check the place out late at night, after 2 am (or whenever the bars close in your area).

Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:35:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CouncilOfDave:
*snip*

Try to stay away from 30 year old buildings...

What happened in 1980 that would make the building less desirable?

Hell, I don't like most buildings that are less than about 80 years old. They started building them like crap around here after about '48 or so..
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:42:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/3/2010 8:43:50 PM EDT by adi]
Depends on what part of town you are looking at. I have lived in apartments from big cities to small towns, and some have features that would be useless/impossible in some places.

My studio apartment in Oakland- Bad: street parking (my car was usually a block away, took 5-10 minutes to find a spot), 3rd floor with no elevator, no a/c, washer/dryer in basement paid with monthly token allowance. Good: was cheap (yeah right, $980/mo in 2001) ETA: was built in 1914, was earthquake retrofitted in the 80's, wasn't in that bad of shape actually.

1br in SLC - Bad: unassigned parking, but had the option of parking in front of my window or covered parking slightly away, had a window with no blinds and a street lamp right next to it, no extra storage. Good: laundry had dozens of machines - but was a long walk in winter, big apartment complex- maintenance on site and landscaped

2br in AZ - Bad: 99% compact parking - 3/4 ton truck didn't fit in my assigned spot, pets allowed - yappy dogs. Good: 'luxury' apartments, so on site pool, jacuzzi, gym, front desk signed for packages, washer/dryer in apartment, 1 year old building

2br in WY - Bad: no a/c, floorboard electric heaters, built by owners in the 70's (husband said he was glad he didn't have to deal with electrical requirements or inspections back then ), near AFB, no covered parking. Good: rural, 6 unit building on 5 acres, surrounded by 5 acre parcels, lots of windows for ventilation in summer, washer/dryer only shared with one neighbor
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:42:14 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Texdiver:
Drive through the complex and see if there are any able bodied 'unemployed' people hanging around in the middle of the day. Those type people don't have anything to do while you are at work, away from your place. They're just waiting for the working stiff to go to work, so they can engage in a little B&E.

+1

Drive through during the day, walk through at night. If your reply is going to be "I'm not walking around there at night!" then you should not live there.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:45:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Beretta92F:

Originally Posted By CouncilOfDave:
*snip*

Try to stay away from 30 year old buildings...

What happened in 1980 that would make the building less desirable?

Hell, I don't like most buildings that are less than about 80 years old. They started building them like crap around here after about '48 or so..

I live in really old apartment, I have heard the girl above me less than 5 times and I could swear that for 2 years I haven't had a neighbor.

I have lived in 3 different new apartments, in each one I could hear doors shut in the next building over. Nothing like your neighbor taking a shit or smoking pot and you being the second to know.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:51:00 PM EDT
Originally Posted By westwardbound:
See if you can meet the neighbors.


+1, go there on a Friday night and observe the traffic in the parking lot. We had a "demographic shift" here in my complex a few years ago and the trappings they bring along are the ones who steal and commit crimes. The neighbors aren't the ones to shit in their own bed, it's the friends, cousins, baby-daddys, brothers etc. that do the damage.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 8:57:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/3/2010 8:59:58 PM EDT by Beretta92F]

Originally Posted By Waldo0506:

Originally Posted By Beretta92F:

Originally Posted By CouncilOfDave:
*snip*

Try to stay away from 30 year old buildings...

What happened in 1980 that would make the building less desirable?

Hell, I don't like most buildings that are less than about 80 years old. They started building them like crap around here after about '48 or so..

I live in really old apartment, I have heard the girl above me less than 5 times and I could swear that for 2 years I haven't had a neighbor.

I have lived in 3 different new apartments, in each one I could hear doors shut in the next building over. Nothing like your neighbor taking a shit or smoking pot and you being the second to know.
Yep. I just moved into a lower flat in an older, working-class town. The house was built in the mid-late 20's. Plaster walls, lots of large windows for ventilation, and even though I know that the young couple upstairs have a 4-month old, and that the husband is hard of hearing and apologizes for playing the TV too loud, I never hear a peep out of them. I can only tell that I have upstairs neighbors if I happen to be by the back of the house when they close their door.

I used to live in a complex that was built in the late-60's, early 70's. I could hear everything my neighbors did. above me, below me, on either side, and across the hall. On top of that, the a/c went out the summer my buddy and I lived there, and since it was designed around climate control, the windows only opened about 5". It was unbearable. Living on the 8th floor with no airflow in 90 degree muggy Michigan heat.

Link Posted: 9/3/2010 9:13:11 PM EDT
hot neighbor
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 9:14:05 PM EDT
Originally Posted By westwardbound:
See if you can meet the neighbors.


+1
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 9:23:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/3/2010 9:27:44 PM EDT by 2nd_amandment]
Originally Posted By imdandman:

No dogs - I don't want to hear barking late at night while I'm trying to sleep.



Dogs are a lot more quiet than the average people.
Look for quiet people, and keep in mind you'll have to be equally quiet in all things you do.
It's not just the noise, the smells: cooking, smoking, etc.. comes to mind.

On the positive side, look for the indoor/outdoor swimming pool, gym, other sports, party rooms, conference rooms, LARGE yards to walk around, etc...



Link Posted: 9/3/2010 9:27:36 PM EDT
Good windows.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 9:32:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Beretta92F:

Originally Posted By CouncilOfDave:
*snip*

Try to stay away from 30 year old buildings...

What happened in 1980 that would make the building less desirable?

Hell, I don't like most buildings that are less than about 80 years old. They started building them like crap around here after about '48 or so..

Because by then a lot of stuff is starting to wear out, and it will start needing a lot more maintenance.

Including things like windows, pipes, doors, foundations, roofs, etc etc...
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 9:45:20 PM EDT
I can tell you from experience, even a nice place in a shitty neighborhood is not good. Check out the neighbors. Is there much Section 8 in the area? What's it look like at 1AM? Ask around, people know which neighborhoods are OK. Even ask the cops, they know where the bad folks collect.
Already mentioned, washer and dryer are a plus and windows on as many sides as possible. We had a place that was the whole one floor of the building, windows all around were nice. Make sure the place looks like it is taken care of and well maintained. Beyond that, look for features you would enjoy, big shower, nice porch with a view, low traffic area, nice kitchen if you're a cook, ground floor, etc.. You have to live there, it should feel like home when you walk in.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 10:08:47 PM EDT
I recently had to get a place for one of my sons. I would not allow him to move back home. He moved out before 18 against my wishes because he thought he was smarter then everyone.
I agreed to help look before he moved back to town based on his income.
A area that is in transition, that used to have a lot of drug houses is now filled with blue collar families, and rental units, that normal people are trying to make some monthly income from.
His area used to be the Meth lab area, but now it is a growing area for people trying to get ahead.
What used to be a rough area is now, no parties ( family stuff excluded, but with in reason).
People take pride it the area and duplex owners, make sure their tenants are OK.
Link Posted: 9/3/2010 10:19:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/3/2010 10:24:19 PM EDT by GonvilleBromhead]
Lots of good suggestions here.... I agree that the most important thing is the neighborhood and who you are going to have as neighbors. The best deal on a great apartment is not such a good deal if your car gets broken into every month.

Look around the various areas you are considering..... are these areas you would feel safe walking around at 11pm on a Friday night? Look at the front and back of the stop signs in the area.... do many of them have graffiti on them?
Link Posted: 9/4/2010 9:16:31 AM EDT
Bump for day crew.
Link Posted: 9/4/2010 9:18:29 AM EDT
A view of the pool is nice, especially if you live in a college town.
Link Posted: 9/4/2010 9:39:43 AM EDT
Washer/dryer hook ups in unit. An actual washer/dryer is a plus
Adequate parking. Sorry but 1 parking spot per unit is not enough. People tend to have more than 1 car and tend to have guests over.
No pets
No Bugs
No ghetto trash.


Why not look for a house to rent instead?
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 6:55:17 AM EDT
Bump for the work week crew.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:01:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Beretta92F:
I don't know what the rental availability is in your area, but if you have the choice, I vastly prefer a flat to an apartment...

I've always heard the two terms used interchangeably. What's the difference?
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:09:08 AM EDT
Spend as much as you can afford on rent to avoid living with losers.

Check the parking lot for types of vehicles.
Rice burner fart can cars any vehicle with rims over 17" should be avoided.
Lots of small brats running around is another red flag.
You get what you pay for...
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:19:10 AM EDT

Originally Posted By larkinmusic:
A view of the pool is nice, especially if you live in a college town.

This is wise advise. My windows directly overlook the pool. God do I love bright sunny days and Texas women in bikinis.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:21:27 AM EDT
Not sure what to look for, but you'll probably find it in the toilet tank.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:23:32 AM EDT
Lots of useful info in the thread, adding a bit;

- Look outside, see how concerned about theft of minor stuff people are. Do they hang out planters, have chairs, grills, bikes, et.

- Check the direction of window facing, decide if you want help from the sun heating the place or not.

- Look for scratches under the security doors, bricks, folded cardboard, etc. that may be consistently used to breech security by current residents.

- Take deep nose breaths in the hallway to get an idea of the smells that will come in from the hallway.

- Check for dogs allowed status. (My apartment said "no dogs" all over the ads and then switched the month after I moved in because they were having trouble finding tenants. Now due to the housing situation, there are lots of people with dogs used to houses in the place. I prefer no dogs if possible, it's not worth moving over, but it would have been nice if the ads were accurate.)

- Look at the status and repair of the cars in the parking lot. Swing by late on some weekend night when it is warm, check for people hanging out late at night in the lot. Look for oil spots in the stalls. These things will tell you a lot about the character and ability to function of the other tenants.

- Look for stuff nearby. Food, late night food and supplies, groceries, etc. Also note, "checks cashed" places are bad juju if they are within maybe a mile or so.

- Can you get to work easily from there?

- Check for a sprinkler system. Your #1 SHTF risk just went from whatever, to "some dumbass burns you out". Get your own extinguisher and make plans to get you and your pets out of the apartment with a BOB (cash, at least) via two exits in 90 seconds or less.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:25:15 AM EDT
Ok i live in an apartment and I'm going to go against the general grain here that I'm noticing.

I'm going to say you don't want a bottom floor apartment, you want the highest floor apartment you can get 3rd floor is the best and this is why.

1. Cheaper rent for the third floor, you spend less money on rent you have more money for everything else.
2. there is no reason anyone should ever be on the 3rd floor unless they live there so you will know if there is a creep in your midst.
3. No one can or would rob a third story apartment except spider man. The only way to my balcony is a 10 foot vertical leap.
4. The higher up you are the nicer the view.
5. You cant hear the people above you stomping around because there is no one above you.
6. Balcony's are amazing.
7. Climbing stairs every day is really healthy

The move in sucks, because your carrying shit up three flights of stairs. But after that its all gravy. And I would say you want an apartment that is close to a bad part of town but not in a bad part of town, that is another determiner on the rent. Little kids running around won't matter if you are on third floor you won't have to hear or see anything. And no matter what you should have a view of your car, they always put your parking spot near your apartment so don't worry about that.

When you go into the front office to talk to them about getting an apartment make sure you understand NONE of the prices are set in stone and everything can be negotiated, every price and deposit they throw at you isn't low enough and make sure they know that, and if they don't want to know that then there is other apartments waiting. Make the person who helping you understand you are looking at a lot of other apartments and it doesn't matter if you get that one or not.

Really just make sure you can't stress the point enough that with your budget you CAN NOT move in until they lower the rent a little for you, what i did was looked at the apartment and decided what a good monthly price was in my head i wanted to pay, and I asked her what there monthly average was, then she told me and I gave her a number almost 200 dollars less and i told her I could not move in unless she made it happen. So she says "we cant lower it that much sir" so i said "well I can't move in with my budget unless its that price" so she goes and talks to her manager and she comes back 5 minutes late, what do you know her manager says they will make an exception.

Also if you are .Mil or a policeman or a paramedic, or any kind of emergency personnel most apartments have a program called "hometown heroes" where you get a discount off of your rent. They don't like to mention it but its there.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:29:35 AM EDT
Originally Posted By opti12206:

Originally Posted By larkinmusic:
A view of the pool is nice, especially if you live in a college town.

This is wise advise. My windows directly overlook the pool. God do I love bright sunny days and Texas women in bikinis.


I won't deny pool views are nice but they are the most expensive apartments.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:30:45 AM EDT
Contact local LE and get crime stats.
Park in the afternoon on a Saturday and recon.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:33:58 AM EDT
Originally Posted By DragoMuseveni:
Washer/dryer hook ups in unit. An actual washer/dryer is a plus
Adequate parking. Sorry but 1 parking spot per unit is not enough. People tend to have more than 1 car and tend to have guests over.
No pets
No Bugs
No ghetto trash.


Why not look for a house to rent instead?


90% of apartments only come with one parking space per unit. If you need more space there is open parking everywhere it just won't be right next to your apartment.

90% of apartments come with washer and dryers, if they don't they you are looking in the wrong place.

The reason you would want to get an apartment over a house, and the reason this guy wants one is because they are a lot cheaper and you don't have to maintain both yards and the pool. The price of him renting a house with a pool and a yard with pool and yard service over an apartment that comes with both for free is a ridiculous difference.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:36:06 AM EDT

Originally Posted By timco:
. The way I keep my yards reflects how i maintain the units plumbing and such.




This. When the building manager seemingly stopped caring about the condition of the sidewalks, landscaping, and parking lot, we suddenly had a lot more trouble getting plumbing, a/c, and other issues fixed and any 'fix' was just a band-aid to cover the problem. After a while they fired that guy and brought in a new manager. First thing he fixed was the sidewalks, added signs, repainted the parking lot. Little things that suddenly added up to a lot. After that we saw an improvement in regular maintnance issues as well.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:42:56 AM EDT
Just sit outside between 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. No kidding, just park and sit. You might want to do it on a week day and weekend.

Look for signs of shitty neighbor syndrome like dirty yards, peeling paint and 32 cars parked out front. What you want to avoid isn't necessarily the assholes that are already there... you also want to avoid the ones that are going to move in after you.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:45:15 AM EDT
Top floor, no exception to this rule.

End of the building so 2-3 walls have no neighbors.

Covered parking.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:47:42 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/7/2010 7:59:50 AM EDT by Rincon_11]
Second story is nicer in that you avoid upstairs noise. However, you do not get the benefit of the people living above you to cool your place in the summer time. Talk to the apartment managers face-to-face. Ask them what kind of clientele they have. I would prefer a younger crowd. You will also get a feel for whether or not they are D-bags themselves. The first females that I hung out with on a semi-regular basis when I first moved to this town where the girls that ran the apartment complex I lived at. It goes without saying that you really want to make sure you will be living in a good area of town. Some places have security patrols, which is nice. Your biggest problem will probably be vehicle break-ins. A view of the pool is a definite benefit. Look for some place within a short walk to a quick stop. It really is a good excuse to go for a walk when the weather is perfect as opposed to driving. There are places that offer a community entertainment room that you can reserve as well.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:54:59 AM EDT
water your lawn
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 7:56:31 AM EDT
I also reccomend looking into duplex's. Less neighbors to deal with, usually have garages (that seperate the 2 units (I don't hear my neighbor AT ALL) and has washer/dryer hook-up.

I don't like apartment living. Too many noisy neighbors, hear them moving above you, having to share a washer & dryer with the whole block... fuck that. A duplex is where it's at. Feels more like a house and nothing like an apartment.
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