So you’re on the hunt for the perfect apartment. Of course you’ve already browsed through our student accommodation listings and have an appointment scheduled with a landlord. But if it’s your first time moving out on your own, what should you look for in a place? Here’s a little guide to the things you should be aware of.
7 Things to look for on house viewings
1) A place you can call home. After all, you will spend a lot of time in your student home so it should first and foremost be a place where you can see yourself living in. It should have the comforts you need and just have the right feeling to it. often you feel the vibe as soon as you arrive, go with your instincts.
2) Safety. Make sure there’s secure access from alleys and gardens. Have a look at the locks, are they sturdy enough? Look if there’s a working fire detector / smoke alarm – usually there’s a little lamp blinking every few seconds to indicate that it’s still working. Ideally your place should have a fire extinguisher too in case of emergency.
3) Functioning fixtures. Don’t be afraid to try and make sure that all fixtures work. Make sure that both the hot and cold water is actually running (those arriving to the UK will be amazed at the separate hot and cold taps – welcome to the UK ;), that toilets flush, windows open (and close) easily, and make sure that the A/C or heating works (depending on where you are in the world).
4) Check for damp. Make sure that it doesn’t smell musty, that the wallpaper isn’t peeling and that the walls and ceilings aren’t turning dark. You can get allergic reactions if you live in a mouldy place, better avoid it. Take a close look in the bathroom and under the kitchen sinks, common places. Generally this can be avoided just by keeping windows open in the bathroom and letting the place air.
5) Furnishings. Does the apartment come furnished and if so, what’s actually included? If it doesn’t come furnished, take a few measurements and try to estimate if all the furniture you need will fit comfortably.
6) Compatible House / flat – mates. If it’s a shared apartment, take a moment to chitchat with the current tenants to determine if they’re a good fit (and what they think of the place). After all, you’ll be spending considerable amounts of time with these guys and they’d better be friendly.
7) Proximity. Make sure that there’s easy access to transportation to your university, it’s not too nice spending an hour commuting every day in the early mornings. Additional perks are green areas or running tracks, a gym, some neat neighbourhood cafés and bars and a proper supermarket. Bear in mind, it might be worth spending a little more to be in a better area and you’ll save on daily travel expenses.
How to have a successful viewing
Be polite and ask the landlord if its all right that you snap pictures of any issues like crack in walls, broken stuff and such. Save a copy and e-mail to the landlord as well if you decide to sign the contract, that way you can rest assure that your landlord will claim that you caused any damage that was already there.
Beware of being rushed by the landlord and take your (reasonable) time to view the property properly so you don’t discover any issues later. Spend a good 10 – 15 minutes to see the property and get to know the landlord, just to make sure that you click. Ideally schedule the meeting for daytime since you’ll have a better view of it then, plus, all apartments look much better in daylight.
If you can, bring a friend along since they might spot something you’ve missed. That way you also get a companion to explore the neighbourhood with and see if it’s the right area for you. Then go out and have a drink and a bite to eat, see how you like your new neighbourhood. Does it feel like home yet?
That’s it. If you have any additional tips you would like to share, please tell us in the comments. Good luck on your apartment hunting!