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Your First Apartment Guide and Checklist

Looking at rental properties day in and day in Phoenix or Las Vegas out can be exhausting if you don’t know how to go about it the right way. Whether there are many or few apartments for rent in the areas you’re looking to live, it can be a hassle to go through them if you don’t have a plan.

Here are a few things to consider while planning your first apartment hunt.

Your First Apartment Checklist - First Apt Hunt - Heers

Planning Your First Apartment Hunt

Only look at those within your budget: Looking at apartments that aren’t within your budget is a misuse of time. Before even looking at apartments draw up a list of apartments that are affordable and offer what you need.

Use your network: The people you know may be able to tell you about great apartments that are recently vacated as well as serve as recommendations if they live in the rental property you found an apartment in.

Look in the newspaper: The newspaper still publishes apartment listings and often features a fair number that aren't posted online. While newspaper postings may seem sketchy at this day and age it is important to remember that some apartment managers prefer to be selective.

Ask about pet regulations and fees: If you have a pet, it is very important you ask about rules regarding pets and if there are any associated fees. Some apartment properties only allow certain types of pets or certain sizes, and some charge pet fees based on what type of pet you have.

Look at floor plans: While they don’t provide a full picture, a floor plan can help eliminate apartments that aren’t suited for your lifestyle.

Average utility costs: While the cost of rent can seem affordable, it is not the total cost. Utilities and possibly other fees come into play and could make what seems like an affordable apartment the exact opposite. Ask both the manager and other residents what the average cost of utilities is in the area.

Read reviewsLooking at reviews can be a tricky ordeal but can be very beneficial. The thing to look for is repeated offenses. If there are multiple reviews referencing a roach problem and the dates span more than a few weeks, you can be fairly certain the building has a roach problem.

Look at the apartment complex multiple times at different times of day: An apartment or the complex can look one way in the morning and another in the afternoon. The same goes for different seasons and weather conditions. While an apartment may look great in sunny conditions, a rainy day may reveal roof problems. Also, take a look at how the apartment complex feels during daytime versus the nighttime. While it may be quiet during work hours there always the risk it might be rowdier during the evening.

Ask a friend to accompany you: If you feel unprepared or are afraid you’re going to miss something, enlist the help of a friend who has been through a couple of apartment searches. They can provide advice on what to look for, what to avoid and how to best go about the search.

Do other research: As a new renter, it’s important your know your rights as a tenant and what your landlord can and cannot do.

Look for the deals: If you’re on a budget, make sure to look for move-in specials, which are popular during the winter months as well as a few weeks in the summer.

Your First Apartment Checklist - Things to Look For - Heers
 

Things to Look for 

There also things you have to make sure to check during your search for your first apartment.

Test your cell reception: Unless you plan to have a landline, you should test your cell reception. Make sure to do it in different areas of the apartment.

Check cupboards, closets and cabinets: Storage spaces are notorious for hidden damage as well as hidden pest control. Make sure to open up the cupboards, closets and cabinets to look for physical damage, water damage or animal droppings.

Check all outlets: Take your cell phone charger or something else you can plug in to test each outlet, especially the ones in high-use areas like the bathroom and kitchen.

Ask about smoking policies and smokers: If you’re a smoker, make sure to ask if there is any problem with smoking within the apartment and if fire alarms or other security mechanisms have to be adjusted. Also, be aware some apartment properties have extra fees for smokers.

Budgeting for Your First Apartment

Having an apartment isn’t just about paying the rent. There are other expenses you have to plan and prepare for, including security deposit, application fees, utilities and pet fees.

Here is a list of all the things to consider in your first apartment budget.

Security deposit: This money is an initial partial-payment of sorts. The main purpose is to prove that you are financially stable enough to pay rent, damages and other costs of living. In most cases, the security deposit is not returned if the apartment suffers damages.

Application fee: This money is typically used to cover the background and credit checks, as well as any other screening deemed necessary by management.

First month’s rent (and last month’s rent, if applicable): Some properties ask that along with a security deposit you pay the first and last month’s rent. Make sure to clarify whether the last month’s rent counts as a security deposit.

Move-in Costs

Physically moving from one place to another is an expense many people forget to consider. Make sure to include these in your moving budget.

Packing supplies: You can save on these by asking stores if you can have some of their cardboard boxes.

Truck rental: You may be able to reduce, if not eliminate, this cost if you have a pickup and are willing to do multiple trips or if you have friends that are willing to help you out with their pickups.

Movers: There are student movers that often charge a reduced price. You can also try asking your friends for help.

Pet fees: Pet fees vary from place to place but are often mandatory if you have a pet. In some cases, you are required to pay a higher security deposit as well as monthly or annual pet fee.

Elevator fees: If the property has an elevator or other similar shared amenities, be prepared to pay for those costs as well. Utilities: Utilities may also some sort of upfront payment like a connection cost. Talk to each individual company; some require money before connecting while others can simply add it to your first bill.

Cable and internet: The same rules apply as with utilities. Some cable companies may charge an upfront connection cost.
Renter’s insurance: One important thing to remember to add to the budget is renter’s insurance. It is typically very affordable.

Moving Prep

Before actually moving there are a few important step you have to take to make the transition that much easier.

Purge: For the sake of time and trouble, it’s best to get rid of everything you no longer use or will no longer need at your new place. Not only will carrying unnecessary items create an extra hassle with packing, it can also mean paying for a bigger moving truck or for more moving help.

Plan how you’re going to pack: Create a timeline. Plan what is going to get packed first and how much you plan to pack each day or week in order to avoid packing at the last minute.

Use wardrobe box: Ask your moving company for a few wardrobe boxes to hold the items in your closet that are on hangers. Wardrobe boxes make it easier to carry those items and remove the hassle of having to pack and rehang your clothes.

Consider moving the basics yourself: Moving a few clothes and basic daily necessities like toiletries and a few kitchen items can make the move feel much smoother. With the items already unpacked by the time the rest of your things arrive, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of digging through boxes to find your towels or forks when you need them your first day in your new place.

Research moving companies: There are many moving companies available in today’s market so there are plenty of choices. The important thing is to find one that offers the best price while still maintaining a sense of security. Look for companies with positive reviews and no history of losing items.

Arrange for help with moving: Even with the help of movers, you may need additional help with last-minute packing. Enlist the help of friends and family but make sure to let them know in advance.

Get supplies ready: Packing is a lot easier when everything – from boxes to markers – is ready. By starting the packing process with materials set, you avoid making excuses to not pack, have fewer pauses and make it less likely you’ll misplace something.

Arrange for setup with utilities: Once you have a move-in date set in stone, contact the utility companies to arrange a connection date. Some recommend that services be connected days before the actual move-in day; if there are problems there is still time to fix them before you’ve moved in.

Complete a change of address: Complete a change of address online or at your local post office. Make sure to also inform all relevant government agencies and to update your driver’s license or state identification as soon as possible.

Take inventory: Be sure to take note of how many boxes will be moving from your old place to your new place as well as which items will be taken by the movers and which will be taken by yourself. This reduces the likelihood of losing anything or having any theft-related misunderstandings.  

Make changes to the new apartment: Consider having the new apartment fumigated days before moving in. That way you are sure the room is both pest- and odor-free. Also, consider changing the locks and disinfecting appliances. As a security measure, take notes and photos of the condition of the apartment before move-in day.

Your First Apartment Checklist - Everything You Need to Know - Heers
 

Ultimate First Apartment Checklist: Everything You’ll Need 

The bare essentials

  • Mattress
  • Sofa
  • Bed Frame
  • Cooking equipment
  • Glasses/cups
  • Plates
  • Lighting

Living Room

  • Chairs/couch
  • Coffee table
  • TV
  • Throw pillows
  • Lamps
  • Art/decor
  • Side tables
  • Bean bags

Dining Area

  • Table
  • Chairs
  • Table cloth
  • Placemats

Kitchen

  • Mugs
  • Bowls
  • Trash can
  • Recycling can
  • Dish towel
  • Dish rack
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Corkscrew
  • Food storage containers
  • Plastic bags
  • Toaster/toaster oven
  • Microwave
  • Coffee maker
  • Blender
  • Ice cube trays
  • Set of knives
  • Cutting board
  • Pot holders
  • Colander
  • Dish soap
  • Sponges

Bathroom

  • Shower curtains and hooks
  • Toiletries
  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet brush
  • Plunger
  • Bath mat
  • Hand towels

Bedroom

  • Headboard
  • Pillows
  • Sheets
  • Comforter
  • Nightstand
  • Blankets
  • Curtains
  • Blinds
  • Lamp
  • Hamper
  • Alarm clock
  • Desk
  • Desk lamp
  • Desk chair

Other

  • Carbon monoxide alarm
  • Light bulbs
  • Internet modem/ router and relevant cables
  • Emergency kit
  • Fan
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Storage containers
  • Tool set
  • Surge protectors
  • Extension cords
  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Vacuum 
  • Dustpan
  • Trash bags
  • Laundry detergent, softener,  stain remover
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Candles and matches

If you are looking for the perfect apartment in the Phoenix or Las Vegas areas, contact Heers Management about our available properties. Heers Management has apartments that are just what a new renter needs.

Fill out a residency application today!