January 15, 2018

Apartment Hunting Tips

Apartment tips for searching for your first apartment and questions to ask before you get your next apartment. Apartment hunting checklist. What to consider when you're looking for an apartment. How to search for your next apartment. Apartment hunting do's and don't's. What to look for in your first apartment. What to do before you move in to your next apartment. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Hi friends! I thought I knew how to apartment hunt because I've moved every year since I moved off to college. Then I had to find an apartment in Dallas for this externship and I realized that I've been very spoiled with student housing in the past because it's been all-in-one housing. Since some of y'all will soon be looking for a new apartment for this fall, I thought I'd share a little of what I've recently learned. 

Finding the apartment

My favorite website to apartment hunt on is ApartmentList.com just because it has a lot of different filters you can use to make sure you're eliminating apartments that just won't work for you. My second favorite is Apartments.com because it still has lots of filters but it doesn't have the option for you to enter in your school/work to calculate the commute. Pretty much tied for third are Rent.com and Zillow.com. One word of caution, though, is to don't rely too heavily on the features that are listed online and make sure you call the apartment and find out. For example, my apartment online listed in-unit washer/dryer because some of the units have in-unit w/d, some have w/d hookups, and then in my tiny unit there's nothing so I have to carry my clothes to the laundry room. 

When you call them, here's a list of questions to ask:
Are the following appliances already in the unit or are there hook-ups for them or are they not available at all:
Microwave (I just had to go buy a new microwave this week because mine didn't come with one)?

Are the following utilities already set up (included in rent or an extra cost?) or are there hook-ups for them:
Electricity (I had to find an electric company and have my electricity set up. Word of caution, this can take a few days so have this set up ASAP once you get your new address)
Sewage/trash removal

What do they charge for:
Application fee
Security deposit
Pet fee/deposit/rent (Related: 8 reasons to get a pet in law school)
Short-term leases (in case you won't need a place for the summer, you can save money by getting a 9-month lease)
Renter's insurance (is it required?)
Furnished apartment (if it's available)

And just a little piece of advice, avoid first-floor apartments like the plague. Sure they're great for move-in day and brining in groceries because you don't have to haul anything up the stairs, but if it rains so much it floods, you're the first apartment that floods and bugs start on the first floor and then work their way up. Plus, I personally feel like it's more dangerous just because it's easier for a robber to break in to a first-floor apartment than an upper-level unit. Also, units close to the parking lot/garage are noisier because you hear all the doors slamming and people talking on the way to their car.

PS: Thinking of living alone? Here's a post on that Thinking of moving in with an S.O.? Here's a post on that

Before move in

First things first, once you get your new address, go to USPS and set up mail forwarding so that you don't miss your mail. Then go in to all your subscription boxes and everything and change your address.

And I know it can be a big rush to move in ASAP once you get your keys, but that's not what you should be doing right away. First, do an empty walk through and see if there's anything broken and turn that in to maintenance to fix. Also take pictures of any damage you see so that you can have proof that you didn't cause it. 

Here's what to check:
Every faucet for clear water, with good pressure, that heats up, and that it doesn't drip when you turn the faucet off (also flush the toilet) 
Windows can open and stay locked when closed
Doors don't stick when closed, front door can for sure lock, weather stripping around outside doors won't let bugs in or your hot/cool air out
Run the dishwasher and washer to make sure they don't flood 
Take a nightlight or a lamp and plug it in to all the outlets to check them (if one won't work, see if there's a light switch that controls the outlet that needs to be flipped on).

Once that's out of the way, go ahead and do a good deep clean of your apartment because you don't know how well the person before you cleaned it (related: What to clean in your apartment). Next, go through and spray bug spray around all of the windows and doors to make a bug barrier so you bugs don't even start to come in.

Also talk to the front office and see:
Where your guests need to park when they visit
Where the mailboxes are
If packages get delivered to your door or are held at the front desk
How much of a notice do you have to give before moving out
When is rent due/late/what's the late fee
How do you submit maintenance requests

Furnishing your apartment 

And if for whatever reason this is your first apartment ever (or if you're moving out from your roommates and need to gap-fill what supplies you don't have), here's a list of just some basics to get you going!


Shower curtain, liner, hooks, curtain rod (if it doesn't come with one)



let's be friends!


  1. Awesome post! Thanks for the tips. Hope your move to Dallas went well.

    1. Thanks Scarlett! It took two days to get electricity and another two days to get furniture, but besides that it actually was a really smooth move!

  2. A lot of landlords with smaller apartment complexes will let you. I did that with the place I live in now: I've been here for three years and it's still super quiet.