CHALLENGES OF APARTMENT HUNTING DURING A PANDEMIC
Last April we were surprised with a last-minute need to find a new apartment. Without telling us our apartment was rented out and we were forced to move.
I have gotten good at looking for apartments, but looking for one during a pandemic was super difficult. Apartments weren’t doing showings and apartments were being rented out FAST.
It was harder than I thought to find an apartment we could afford, the move-in date was right, and was able to do a walk-through OR at least see a video of the place.
WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN APARTMENTS:
- Pet friendly for cats. Finding a place without a pet fee is HARD! Most places were 25-75 per pet a month with a pet deposit. BTW it is illegal for companies to make the pet deposit NON REFUNDABLE!
- Parking Available. A lot of apartments will have a fee for parking starting at $100 a month. In Wisconsin it is amazing to find parking without a fee or with a garage.
- Some Utilities Included are always a bonus! This is rare, but always something we try to find!
QUESTIONS WE MAKE SURE TO ASK:
- What utilities are included? If they are not included, we ask what the average monthly fee is per utilities. This is BIG! It helps you with the overall budget!
- Is there parking of any kind? What is it per month and per car? Some will charge a fee for underground parking but free for above-ground parking. Street parking sometimes requires a permit. If you have more than one car this is important to ask!
- How do we pay rent? Companies have started online payments. Even having auto payments! This has been an amazing way to make sure payments are made on time! With our traveling scheduling, online auto payments have insured all payments are on time every time. Some companies also have drop boxes available!
- Is there a fee to pay online? Depending on how they accept online payments there may be a fee if you pay with a debit card vs bank transfer.
- Is there an application fee? Is it refundable when accepted? THIS ONE IS HUGE right now! The problem we ran into while looking in 2020 was that no one was accepting paper applications due to COVID-19. So all of the applications were online!
- If there is an apartment you REALLY want and they require an online application with a fee. CALL THEM FIRST! We ran into a lot of apartments that were already rented but they were still accepting applications. We also lost an application fee we already paid BEFORE applying.
- What is the deposit amount? Some companies have a move-in special, feel free to ask if they have one!
- Is the move-in date negotiable? It seems like every time we move we need a custom move-in date. Most places have been amazing with this! Having a custom move-in date also helps you move more organized AND more deeply clean your apartment!
IF THEY ARE NOT ALLOWING IN PERSON SHOWINGS:
Apartment Hunting during Covid caused in-person showings to not happen. Ask them to do a facetime or make a video of them walking through. This helps you visualize the place better than any photo can! A lot of companies have started to include videos with online photos since COVID. These are amazing!
WHEN YOU FIND THE APARTMENT YOU WANT:
- Get the rental agreement and read the WHOLE THING! This is important! Don’t sign anything until you read it! If you have questions, do not be afraid to ask! Never be afraid to ask questions! If they are a good rental company they will be able to answer any question no problem!
Apartment hunting isn’t always fun, but making sure you have a plan and write everything down, you’ll find someplace you’ll love!
WHERE WE FIND APARTMENTS:
There are a million sites out there for apartments, but how we found the best ones are:
- Facebook Market Place: This where we found a lot of great deals and hidden gems!
- Craigslist: This is another great place to find hidden gems! But, beware there are A LOT of scams on the site! Make sure to ask questions, require proof of person when it’s a private rental. And NEVER give any personal information out!
One last note:
Make an email just for apartment hunting! This is the easiest way to keep all the places you emailed from filling up your inbox. It can help protect you from scams!