Looking for a new place to live should be a fun and exciting time. But if you're the kind of person who has trouble making decisions or easily gets overwhelmed when weighing the pros and cons, apartment hunting can feel like a steep hill to climb. Here are four mistakes to avoid so your hunt for the perfect apartment is easy and you find a place that will make you happy for years to come.
Not Learning the Lingo
One of the first rules of thumb when looking for any piece of real estate is to make sure you know the lingo. You've got to read between the lines and grasp those one-word gems and phrases that are typically perceived as selling points of the apartment. Here are just a few you're most likely to come across:
Chef's kitchen. Your new apartment has a kitchen that would delight any chef, right? Perhaps. What this saying generally translates to is that the kitchen is the main attraction of the property—the best room in the house. If you're a cooking fanatic, this translates to "Yay!"
Cozy. How would you define "cozy?" How it feels to be snuggled up on the couch with a loved one or a favorite stuffed animal? Curled up in a small space? Well, hopefully that's how you'll feel in your cozy new apartment. This term is generally saved for small apartments, and no, it doesn't mean "cramped." You may not want to move your family of five in, but it'll be perfect as a bachelor pad.
Good for Entertaining. If you like to socialize, this one will likely catch your eye. Open floor plans, those that might have one great room as the living room and kitchen, are good for entertaining because guests can flow freely from one room to another. They also foster a sense of family togetherness, so these apartments aren't suitable for just the party planner; they're great for just about anyone.
Garden Level. Don't confuse this term with a "garden apartment," which is on the ground floor with a view of a courtyard or grassy area. Garden level apartments are in a basement or between the basement and first floor, and the windows themselves are at ground level.
Not Overlooking Negatives That Can Be Fixed
If you're house hunting and stumble upon what appears to be your dream home, only to discover that the bathrooms are a mess and in desperate need of updating, it might scare you away. And that would be considered a reasonable response. When buying. But when you're renting, it's a whole different ballgame.
You might find your ideal apartment comes with a few flaws, like an outdated bathroom that the landlord has promised to update. Or maybe the paint color is all wrong, but the property manager has assured you that a neutral color can be applied with written permission. Maybe the wall above the fireplace has a chunk of brick missing, but it can easily be covered up with your favorite painting. These small negatives can be fixed and shouldn't deter you from signing the lease when all other criteria are met.
Focusing On the First Place You Look At
If you're like most people, you probably have a list of apartments you'd like to see. Suppose the first one you look at turns out to be a dud. It's on the top floor (too many stairs), the "pool view" is more like a "crane your neck to see the deep end" view, the paint on the walls is scuffed, and your unit would be on the end, right next to the highway. But at $125 under what you've budgeted for rent, the price was awfully attractive.
Unfortunately, what happens all too often in these scenarios is that every apartment you look at from there on out will seem too expensive, no matter how perfect it is. There's a term for this, and it's called anchoring bias. To avoid falling into the trap, keep in mind that you shouldn't let one trait, like a good price, set the standard for how you judge all other apartments. Remember to factor in all the characteristics and traits when making a decision on where to live.
Stereotyping isn't a new concept. It's been around for a few centuries, pervading pretty much every age and culture. But whether positive or negative in nature, stereotypes lead to false beliefs that can be misleading as well as destructive.
For example, suppose you once lived in an apartment complex next to a university. Your weekends were filled with loud music booming through the walls and a constant influx of traffic at all hours. Like most people would, you attribute the noise and traffic to the presence of college kids. So when you find out that your potential neighbor downstairs is a college student, you swear off the apartment complex altogether, even though the price is right, it's in the perfect location, and it's got that fitness room you've always wanted.
But what if that college kid is also a single mom who works a full-time job and is rarely home? She doesn't have the time or the inclination to party. Don't let stereotypes, especially ones that are usually wrong, control major decisions like where you live.