Renter’s remorse can happen very quickly after you move into a new apartment. Although the apartment may have seemed perfect initially, leaky pipes, noisy neighbors, too-small closets and a pest invasion may make you wish you had never signed your new lease. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to avoid many of these pitfalls by doing a little research and conducting a thorough evaluation of any New Jersey apartment you’re considering renting.
Start with a Spreadsheet
It’s difficult to carry out an accurate comparison of apartments if you don’t adopt a somewhat scientific method to rank them. Create a spreadsheet or a handwritten list of all of the apartment features you need. As you visit each apartment, check off all of the boxes that apply. Obviously, apartments that receive the highest numbers of check marks are the only ones you may want to serious consider.
When you compile your list, include such features as:
- Number of bathrooms and bedrooms
- Availability of laundry facilities
- Modern kitchen
- Large rooms sizes
- Walk-in closets
- Balcony or patio
- Central air-conditioning
- Signal strength of your cellphone carrier
- Newly built or remodeled building
- On-site fitness center
- Pet friendly
- Extra storage options
- Picnic areas, grills, fire pits and other outdoor features
- Stainless steel appliances
- Tile in the kitchen or bathroom
- Hardwood floors
- Short commute to work
- Short drive to stores and services
Don’t be afraid to open cabinets and look in closets during your tour of a potential apartment. Try all the light switches, flush the toilets and turn on the water in all of the sinks, showers and bathtubs. Be sure to look up during your visit. Brown stains on the ceilings may indicate leaks in the plumbing or roof.
Check under the kitchen sink for signs of leaks or evidence of ants, cockroaches, rodents or other pests. Pay attention to the age of the appliances. Although older appliances may still work, they often draw more energy than modern versions, which can raise your electricity bill.
Bring a Tape Measure
Just because your furniture fits in your current apartment doesn’t mean that it will fit well in your new place. Before you begin your apartment search, note the height, width and length of your largest furniture pieces. Use the tape measure during your visit to determine if the pieces will fit without completely filling up the space.
If the building doesn’t have elevators, don’t forget to measure hallways and stairwells too. Moving day is a terrible time to discover that your extra-large sectional couch or the antique armoire you inherited from your grandmother won’t make it up the stairs.
You may have very different impressions of apartments depending on the time of day you visit. If you first toured an apartment during the middle of the day when most of the residents were at work, stop by in the evening and in the morning when the place will be livelier. Even if you can’t access the apartment, you can usually determine if noise will be a problem, or if it will be difficult to find a convenient parking space when all of your neighbors are home.
A morning or evening visit will also help you evaluate if the commute will be trouble-free or a huge hassle. While you’re there, time the drive to local stores, too. Many apartment communities claim to be minutes from everything, but there’s a big difference between an easy 10-minute drive and a 50-minute trip in heavy traffic.
Ask the Right Questions
Ask plenty of “what if” questions when you meet the apartment manager or rental agent, such as “What if my water heater stops working on a Sunday afternoon?” or “What if I want to get a pet?” Find out if on-site maintenance is available and how long you’ll wait on average for repairs to your apartment.
If you have any children or pets, or if you are anticipating making an addition to your family soon, find out if pets are allowed and if the complex has any special facilities or amenities geared toward them, such as a playground or pet run.
Some other features to keep in mind: Is there a car wash or hose hook up? What is the parking like? Are their garages or assigned parking spaces? Ask if utilities are included. If they’re not, reach out to the rental agent or landlord to provide you with an estimate of monthly costs.
Are you eager to find a new apartment? Fairway 28, a Country Classics Rental Community in Bridgewater, New Jersey, includes all the features that make your new apartment truly feel like home. Our residents enjoy gourmet kitchens, in-unit washers and dryers, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets, a fitness center, a tot lot, car wash station and private garages available for an additional fee. Contact us for more information on available apartments.
Apartment Guide: 10 Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting
The Spruce: How to Tell When It’s Time to Move to a New Apartment