How to Find and Afford a Good Apartment

Getting an affordable apartment in a prime location is a constant struggle for both single people and families alike. Even with new buildings and tenements being constructed each year, there seems to be no end in the scramble to find space to rent or lease. However, if you want to be smarter about searching for and keeping a good apartment, you can use the following tips.

1. Consider your priorities and income.

A common rule of thumb about how much to pay for rent is to consider that a third of your income will go toward paying for where you live (utilities included). This can give you some perspective when you're trying to decide between an apartment worth $500 a month or a place that charges $1,000 a month. Don't forget to also consider your most pressing needs about where you want to live, like how close it is to work or school, or how safe the neighborhood is.

2. Take a look at the apartment in person.

Most apartment listings are available through websites like Craigslist and, but photos and tenant reviews can only tell you so much about a place. While it's a good idea to begin your search online, take some time to visit the premises, meet with the landlord, and look over the apartment you're considering. You might find something you like or dislike in person that you would never have picked up on the Web.

3. Purchase renter's insurance.

Much like how auto insurance protects you from the worst of charges and liability claims in an accident, renter's insurance is good to have for protection from the worst that can happen around your apartment complex. The insurance covers against issues like natural disasters, theft of personal belongings, and damage caused by another tenant.

4. Read through the entire lease before signing.

The lease outlines more than just renter obligations and services that the landlord will provide. You'll also be reading about policies that could come back to haunt you once you've signed. For example, is there a pet policy that you don't like? How about a stipulation about parties or entertaining guests? It's important to be fully-informed about the tenement's policies before you commit to the place as a renter.

5. Don't be afraid to negotiate.

Before you sign anything or put down a single deposit, you'll need to check that everything is to your liking. You're allowed to negotiate with your landlord over specific items in the lease. You're allowed to negotiate with your roommate about living and financial arrangements before you move in together. The point is to make owning and living in an apartment an enjoyable experience for yourself, as well as for everyone else involved in the decision.

Image by Milestone Management on Flickr