Moving apartments is fraught with challenges. Layer in a few additional complexities, like oh say, moving in New York City, and you’ll find that moving apartments can be an incredibly daunting task. But while you’re rushing to find the perfect apartment and sign a lease before another renter snaps it up, there are a few signs you need to look for before moving apartments.
They say location is everything—and choosing the right location for you involves a lot of factors. Maybe you know your neighborhood inside and out—but maybe you don’t. Take care to consider the location at multiple times of the day. Pop by around the times you’d normally be leaving for work, sleeping, or going out for a run. That quiet café you saw when visiting at 2 pm on a Tuesday might look very different when its hosting its 2 am karaoke mic night on a Sunday. A one year lease could suddenly seem very long.
Repairs & Maintenance
All apartments need maintenance at one time or another. But they shouldn’t be in desperate need of repair—and any repairs should be actively undergoing work. Take a close look at your future apartment, starting when you arrive at the entry of the building. Is the entrance clean and functional? Are shared spaces up-to-date or are there “out of order” signs adorning areas? Keep a close eye on everything you pass as you proceed to the apartment. If the general areas of the building are in need of repair, you can imagine that the apartments may also be lacking necessary attention.
Once inside the apartment, test out everything. Make sure you turn on faucets, flush toilets, flip light switches, open windows, and doors, and generally interact with everything available. Consider all the seasons and conditions you will encounter. A beautiful spring day may not set the tone for a dreary cold day in January or a hot and humid August day. Do the heat and air conditioning work properly to care for those days too? You don’t want to find out the hard way that there is no functional air conditioning and no timeline for repairs.
Storage, Storage, and More Storage
Storage is a premium luxury in most apartments. Visiting an empty apartment can often lead renters to misleading perceptions of space and storage options. The appeal of wide open spaces diminishes quickly when filled up with all your stuff and you may find all the storage you thought you would have is quickly filled and simply not sufficient for your needs. Either plan accordingly with seasonal storage unit rotation or keep space and storage at the forefront when apartment shopping. You simply cannot just create more space once you’re in there. Or can you?
One caveat to the problem of creating more storage is understanding what you can and cannot do once you’re in the apartment. Some apartments will allow everything from installation of shelves to hanging of pictures and painting. Others are far stricter with options for customizing. Take care to find out all of this in advance as it may have significant effects on your quality of life once you are in there. A building that allows for modifications may allow you to find far more flexibility in living spaces than one that doesn’t.
You know the best time to visit a 5th floor walkup? A mid-60s degree, partly cloudy day when you’re primed for apartment hunting in proper footwear and carrying nothing more than a small backpack. A 5th-floor walkup may seem like a simple feat—you may even find yourself thinking “hey, this would be a great way to get exercise”. But you know when the worst time to transcend to a 5th floor walkup is? When you’re lugging groceries or shopping bags, moving, tired, injured, wearing heels, in a rush, in the heat, or pretty much any other time that isn’t 110% ideal. In other words, nearly every other day other than the day you’re apartment hunting.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rent a 5th-floor walkup. You may love it. It may be the only thing in your budget that fits all the other must-haves. You may really like stairs. This is all fine—but recognizing the reality of your accessibility options is something you should not ignore when moving into a new apartment.
Think you’re in the clear because your building has an elevator? There are still signs you shouldn’t ignore. Make sure doorways, pathways, and everything else in the apartment suits your current living needs. The adorable pre-war studio with alcove that has all the character you’ve ever wanted is going to be far less adorable when you realize your queen-sized bed blocks the entrance to the bathroom, leaving you with mere inches to squeeze around the end of the bed frame (that you have now broken your toe on three times since moving in).
On that note, remember how we were discussing making sure everything worked? Bet you didn’t open the oven! That’s right—open the oven, spin around to grab an oven mitt and see where you land. Did you just knock yourself out on the fridge door or have to leap over the garbage can to get to the sink? There are functional considerations lurking around every corner from the entrance to your apartment building to the farthest corner of your pedestal sink (that was super cute until you realized there was no storage in your bathroom). Don’t ignore any sign that an apartment isn’t the best fit for your needs. You may feel pressured to find a place but a lease is a long time to endure these issues!
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