How to Search for an Apartment

You're ready for a big move to a new apartment. But, where should you start?  Nowadays, there are so many places to find rentals that the process can be overwhelming.  From websites to mobile apps to classified ads and periodicals - it can be tough to sort through the wealth of information out there.  We're here to help you find the perfect apartment and keep your searching and shopping simple.

1. Determine Your Budget

When figuring out your housing budget, be sure to include utilities and other expenses.  A typical guideline for renters is that no more than 30% of your income should be earmarked for rent.  This is a general guideline, however, and each person's needs will be different.  Only you can determine how much to allocate to rent each month.

Don't overextend your budget for a "dream" apartment you can't afford.  This can haunt you further down the road when an unexpected expense arises (such as a major car repair) that may inhibit your ability to pay rent.

If your options are very limited due to a lower income range or if you live in a higher-priced area, consider sharing expenses with a roommate.  Two bedroom and three bedroom plans can help you divide rent, utility, TV, internet, and sometimes even grocery expenses.

2. Location, Location, Location!

Find the perfect neighborhood near your office, family, friends, or social activities.  Would you rather be somewhere central to everything you do or would you prefer to be off the beaten path?  Research different areas in your region, determine your typical commute, and look for things to do in the area before settling on a specific neighborhood.

Check out area grocery stores, conveniences, medical centers, moving and storage assistance, and entertainment to see if everything (or most everything) you regularly access is nearby.

3.  Create an Amenity Wish List

Do you require a pet-friendly community and want more room for your pet to run around?  Maybe you'd like to have a washer and dryer in your home so you don't have to worry about waiting for a machine.  Think of everything you'd like in an apartment community and create a list.  Then, prioritize that list in order of importance.  This list may grow and shrink during your search, but this will help you focus on the community features most important to you while working within your budget.

4.  Let the Search Begin!

There are many tools to help guide you in your searches and online tools are taking over some of the most popular methods for easily narrowing down searches.  Some of today's most popular listing services for rentals are:

Each of these sites also offers a mobile app.  Mobile apps allow you to use your current GPS location to find nearby apartment communities, allowing you to search on the go while visiting communities in person.

Visit the community's website, Facebook, Google, and Yelp pages to read reviews, take virtual tours, and learn more about the community.  Also check out the management company's website for further information.  There may be other communities with apartments fitting your needs offered by the same management company.

5.  Tour the Communities

Once your list is narrowed down to a few communities, schedule a tour with each so you can see inside the model apartments and possibly even the one you may end up leasing.  Apartments can lease quickly and are rented on a first-come, first-served basis.  If you have your eye on a specific home, don't delay in setting up a tour with the leasing team.

When touring, take note of the size of the home and get a feel for how your furniture and decorations will look inside. Test the features, look inside cabinets, look at the appliances, and make sure the layout is one that will work well with your lifestyle.  Request a tour of the community's amenities such as the fitness center, pet areas, community center, and anything else that may be of interest.  If you're deciding between a few floorplans, don't hesitate to ask for a tour of each so you can see the layout and size of each room.

Keep a list of questions handy during your tours and ask about expected utility costs, what is included with the rent, pet policies, amenity fees, maintenance hours, guest policies, etc.  Also, ask any questions you may have about lease options, parking, and area attractions. 

If you anticipate moving quickly or encounter an apartment you want in limited supply, have a money order ready as well as your photo ID so that you're able to apply for your desired apartment on the spot.

6. Reserve Your New Home

While each management company may differ slightly in the application process for apartments, the overall process is very similar.

Items you should bring to apply for your apartment include:

  • Valid Photo ID
  • Money order for your application fee
  • Earnings Statements (2 most recent pay stubs, last year's W2)
  • Social Security Card

Applications can take up to 72 hours to process and the leasing team will contact you with the credit agency's decision.  When approved, an appointment will be scheduled to sign your lease and pay your security and/or pet deposits.

If you're looking for a home in the Baltimore area, be sure to check out Peak Management's wide array of communities.  With locations from Windsor Mill to Baltimore City and Bel Air, there's a Peak community that's sure to fit your lifestyle.

Good Living Starts Here.