Moving is almost always stressful. We push through it because it’s necessary, and because it’s exciting to find a new place that you love and are ready to make into a home.
What can be even more stressful, though, is realizing after the move that you’ve made a huge mistake. Maybe the location isn’t right, or maybe the apartment is in worse shape than you realized. No matter what the issue may be, no one wants to be disappointed with a place they’re likely stuck in for at least 12 months.
Are you getting ready to look for a new apartment? We’ve laid out a few key factors you should definitely consider, before it’s too late!
Before you start looking around at potential apartments, you absolutely have to set a budget. There’s nothing worse than diving right in and finding the apartment of your dreams, only to realize that you can’t actually afford it.
Take a look at your monthly income and your average expenses, and make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up for disaster. The great thing about Jacksonville is that it’s packed quite densely with apartment complexes, so finding something in your price range is just a matter of looking in the right place.
One of the first things you’ll likely think of when apartment hunting is location. Being in a location that fits your lifestyle is extremely important.
For example, if you know you like being near the beach, you’ll probably want to limit your search to apartments on the eastern side of the Intercoastal. Those who love the downtown area will want to look around the urban core.
Make sure the area is safe, and that you’ll feel safe at all times of day and night. If you’re particularly nervous about the area, there are resources available to determine the crime element nearby. The key here: trust your gut. If the place seems sketchy, it probably is, and at the very least you definitely won’t feel comfortable being there.
Also, consider what’s available nearby. Will you have to drive 15 minutes just to get groceries? Are all of the services you may need, such as dry-cleaning, available in the area? If not, that may be a deal-breaker.
Be wary of choosing a location based on where you work. If you end up changing jobs prior to moving out, you might find yourself stuck in a part of the city that you don’t really enjoy. You might also want to avoid choosing an area just because a lot of your friends live there. If they decide to move elsewhere before your lease is up, you’ll again be stuck somewhere you didn’t necessarily want to be.
Ultimately, the location of your new apartment has to suit you.
Next, you should ask yourself how big of an apartment you’re seeking.
If it’ll just be you in the apartment, chances are you’ll be looking into studios and one-bedroom units. You’ll want enough space to breathe, but not so much space that it’ll affect the coziness of the apartment. If you have a lot of stuff that you don’t think you can part with, be sure to keep that in mind as you look; not all one-bedrooms are created equally as far as the amount of space you’ll get. Some complexes also offer additional storage in the form of a garage for an added monthly charge.
If you’re moving in with a roommate or significant other, you’ll want to have a conversation about how much space you’ll each need. If you’re the type of couple that likes being close at all times, a one-bedroom might make more sense than a two-bedroom. If you both value your space, a two-bedroom might help avoid needless conflict.
When you go in to tour apartments that you might be interested in, always remember to bring a tape measurer. You’ll be able to determine how much space you’re working with, and it’ll help you make sure that all of your furniture is going to fit.
Much like location, your preference in amenities and style of apartment complex should be influenced by your lifestyle.
If you’re very active and passionate about fitness, a well-equipped gym is going to be a necessity. If you’re a big coffee drinker, a Starbucks machine in the lobby might be a life-saver each morning. Take a look at all of the amenities offered and see if you can picture yourself using them. Ultimately, you’re paying for the amenities as well, so you’ll want to make sure you’re actually going to use them.
Survey the complex and take note of what you see. Are the lawns well-maintained? Much more importantly, are the buildings themselves well-maintained? While Jacksonville has a lot of great apartment complexes, it also has a lot of hell-holes. Usually you’ll be able to tell the difference just by paying attention.
This one is tricky. Obviously, when you go in to tour or sign a lease, every apartment’s staff is going to be almost nauseatingly nice and welcoming. You won’t really be able to get a good read on them in that environment; if they’re already nasty at that stage, though, you should get out while you still can.
What happens much more often is that the staff will be all rainbows and sunshine right up until the first time something goes wrong, at which point their true colors start to shine through.
While you can’t always anticipate this, you can at least be proactive by doing your research. A quick Google search of the complex you’re considering will allow you to find reviews from previous tenants. This will help you find out how the office handles complaints, how responsive maintenance is, and other key details. Obviously, some of these reviews will have to be taken with a grain of salt. However, if you’re seeing the same complaints over and over again, chances are there’s something to it.
Finding an apartment should never be an impulsive decision. While it’s nowhere near as big a step as buying a house, it’s still likely a 12-month commitment that you’re making, and it will be your home for those 12 months at minimum. You want to make sure you’re making the right call. As long as you give full consideration to these factors, chances are you’ll end up where you belong.