How To Find The Right Apartment

When I was searching for a place to rent, I scoured Craig’s list every day. I drove around neighborhoods. And I certainly read many apartment reviews online. It isn’t easy to find the right apartment for you.

Before you start searching, ask yourself questions such as:

1. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I need?

2. How much closet space is acceptable?

3. How important is location?


Before you start on your search, figure out what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable in terms of what you want. Make a list. For me it was this:

1. No carpet
2. Outdoor area for gardening & dogs
3. No one living above me
4. Around $600
5. Gated community
6. Washer/dryer or hook-ups

What was I willing to give up?
The gated community. 

However now it is gated.

I didn’t get a place with washer/dryer or hook-ups, so I improvised by buying a European-type washer/dryer in one that doesn’t need in wall plumbing.

So now you have your list. Do you have enough money put together to pay to move in when you find a place? 

Most places will charge you a deposit. A pet deposit if they allow pets. And first and last month’s rent. 

Have this money ready when you start searching.

Drive around the apartment neighborhoods at different times of the day. On weekends. So you’ll know what it would be like to live there, and how much noise you can tolerate. I can’t tolerate much noise.


Read all the reviews you can find. When you’re driving around the complex, if you see a friendly and non-threatening resident out walking, (lock your car doors) stop and ask them how they like living there. I’ve done this myself. 

Ask if it’s noisy, if complaints get taken care of. That type of thing. 

A resident will be your best source for the truth. Ask several individuals if you can. Don’t just trust what the manager says. 

When you’re past the driving around stage and actually want to evaluate certain apartments, you need to see for yourself what security measures the apartment complex has. 

Once you find out which apartments are currently available, walk around them. Are there bushes near the front door that could conceal someone wanting to rob or harm you? 

Check back on weekends to check out who would be living around you. Don’t just take the manager’s word for that either. You want to see them with your own eyes and evaluate if you want to live next door to them.

Are there people loitering around? Possibly drug dealers? If possible, check with the police department to see if there are many calls made from that complex. 

Once you have zeroed in on a place you think you want to live, and have already gone through all of the above, ask the manager for a tour. Spend some time checking things out.

Do you see bugs of any kind? Are there tears in the screens and do the windows lock? Does the front door have a dead bolt? 

1. Can you hear through the walls? 

2. Check out the water in both the bathroom and kitchen. 

3. Look under the sinks in both places to check for leaks and/or water damage.

4. Look to see how old the heat/air units and hot water heater appear to be, and what condition they are in. 


Once you’re prepared to sign on the dotted line, go over your lease carefully. Read the fine print. Ask questions. Be sure what exactly you’re signing.

I looked and looked. The place I’m living in now was one of the first places I looked at. But I wanted to look some more. 

After nearly a year of looking, I finally figured out that this was the best choice for me. And right after I moved in, they installed a security gate, which was on my list.

I also got renter’s insurance.

Most of the units had some carpet, so I asked if they were going to change the carpet in the unit I wanted. They said yes. I asked if they could put vinyl flooring throughout. They agreed to do that. I could check that off my list. 

I asked if I purchased my own tall toilet (due to my ankle) and my own storm door and hand held shower hook up, would they install it. They agreed to do so. 

Even though I didn’t get a washer/dryer or even hook-ups, I’ve been pleased with the European-style washer/dryer I ordered from Austin. And as of last week, I can now dry my clothes on a clothes line outside.

You can always figure out ways to work around many things. And I have. 

I have my own large privacy-fenced patio. I love that, and so do the dogs. This will be my third summer out there, and I try to do something a little different every year. 

You don’t want to just be “okay” with where you live. It might not be ideal, but there are lots of decorating work-arounds to make it more you


You need to love where you live. Every day is important and you don’t want to be putting off happiness until you can move someplace else.  

When I moved into this patio apartment, it was as generic as they come. But I’ve steadily been working on that. I truly love my little apartment.

I would probably lose my deposit because of all the changes I’ve made, but I’d rather lose $300 if I happened to move than be unhappy the entire time I live here.

If you choose an apartment with a balcony, here are some decorating ideas.

Here are some other great sources:


  1. Brenda, I love how you've turned your little apartment into such a cozy home for you and your little dogs. And how you've turned your patio into such a wonderful gardening space! I live in a very small space too and you've given me some great ideas for both inside and outside….
    Great tips here for anyone looking to rent an apartment, condo, townhouse or house.

  2. Those are really good ideas. I think your apartment fits your needs. You have come up to some great solutions as well. Has the guy behind you moved?

  3. Brenda, with all the improvements you have made I would think they would be more than happy refund your deposit, I thought that was only when you tear up a place, also I have just read about a couple who took a 32 ft. older travel trailer that had a sun room built on to the giving them about 250 sq. feet, yes very small but have turned into a vey little cozy place to live using a lot of good ideas for storage, very creative people like you, they had lost everything while the building starting to recline in 2008 and had lost their business and home, they gave up so much but are very grateful for what they have and little by little are transforming the place for two people, we do what we have to when life those us curves.

  4. We are kindred spirits! I spent many years as a renter, and I painted and decorated as if it were my own. I agree, we get one go at life. No point not really living no matter your space!

  5. Brenda, I always made my rented apartments & homes my own space too. I rarely lost a deposit because of it. In one case, the management told me the person that had viewed my apartment, asked them to not repaint because they liked it. Even when renting houses, I cleaned up the landscape and put in new trees or bushes to make it my own. Just because I was renting, didn't mean I wouldn't treat it as if it were my own. I had to live there so it might as well be my place. I was very lucky.

  6. Great tips Brenda. I love my duplex apt and it has almost everything on my must have list. I wish I had a fenced back yard like you do, but I do have back patio and I can make it much more then it is if I desire.

Comments are closed.