You've been counting the days until your lease is up. That checklist you used to find your apartment? It covered the basics, but since then a ton of issues have cropped up that you wish you'd thought of 11 months ago.
Sure, you can walk to a bunch of boutiques and that awesome Ethiopian restaurant down the street. But the "missed delivery" notices are piling up by your door. An army of fervid Trump supporters (aka transients) seems to have taken up residence outside your building. There's no soft grass for your poor pup to frolic in (or poop on). And the cellphone signal is so bad, you can't even call Mom to complain.
Even now, can you be sure you've really thought through all the possible pitfalls of a new place? A 2015 survey of 120,000 renters by the National Multifamily Housing Council revealed the key factors for an ideal apartment -- after location, of course.
So keep these things in mind, and you'll improve your chances of finding a place that you'll really be happy to call home.
1. A designated place for packages
Apartment dwellers are major contributors to the $300 billion-plus online shopping industry. A typical apartment community can receive as many as 100 packages during an ordinary week and up to double that during the holiday season, according to the NMHC research.
But few apartment buildings allow delivery of packages right to a resident's door. So if you're at work or running errands when a delivery arrives, those precious parcels could lie around in a lobby or entryway until you return home. That's why 72% of renters say it's important to have a secure and convenient package storage/holding area. And most are even willing to pay for a package locker, with 87% of respondents agreeing that a charge of no more than $20 per month is fair.
2. Good connectivity
For some of us, it's hard to imagine living without reliable Wi-Fi, not to mention an above-average cellphone signal. But it happens -- and often, you don't realize it until it's too late and you've signed on the dotted line.
Prevent getting locked into a lease with limited connectivity by bringing your mobile devices with you on an apartment tour and testing signal strength.
Also, investigate different Internet service providers and the speeds they offer, says Geoffrey Jones, owner of Investorwize, a company that buys and remodels homes nationwide. But your neighbors also affect your Wi-Fi experience: Too many networks in one place can result in a weak or erratic signal. And while that's not necessarily a reason to ditch dreams of life in a swanky new pad, it may require you shell out extra cash.
"You may need -- or want -- your own wireless extender to boost the transmission of the Internet signal so that it can be accessible from all areas of the home," Jones says.
In addition, look for USB ports next to electrical outlets. Many new and newly remodeled units include this handy upgrade.
3. Water pressure
Even some of the newest, high-end apartments have insufficient water pressure. If you enjoy a luxurious shower with jets of water that feel like the firm hands of a Swedish masseuse, make sure you test out a unit's ability to keep up with your demand.
Some showerheads have a flow restricter to limit water consumption (especially in drought-affected locales). It's easy to remove to get the flow you want, but you'll pay the difference in your water bill.
4. Places to pamper your pet
Sure, your rental needs to be a good fit for you. But is it good for your pet as well? Pet amenities rank high on the list of renter desires, according to NMHC. A majority of renters prioritize having a community dog park nearby, while others sought out apartments that offer dog treats in the lobby or community pet-washing stations.
5. Electronic payments
Writing a check is so last decade. And in this digital age, 78% of apartment dwellers fancy the freedom of paying their way online.
Not only is this convenient, Jones says, it can also eliminate late fees and hassles due to lost checks or the inability to pay when you're out of town. So ask your potential landlord what forms of payment are accepted.
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So once you've narrowed down your apartment search to the places that fulfill your needs from location and price to closet space and kitchen features, make sure to visit each one with this checklist to ensure that the rental will really make you happy. Then get ready to move in!