Moving is an inevitable headache in this volatile economy. Jobs changes occur with such frequency and it seems that finances ebb and flow. You may move to be closer to a job, or to be closer to school. Maybe you just want a change of scene in a different neighborhood. Then there’s the task of finding the perfect apartment within your qualifications. As rental property investors, we at Jason Cohen Pittsburgh have seen just about every reason for moving and every type of apartment.
The most obvious factor to consider is cost. How much can you afford? Many sources recommend spending 1/3 or less of your income on home pay. This should be weighed against your other expenses as well. If you have many expenses in addition to rent, you may want to find a less expensive place to live. If you are debt free, you can afford a little more. There will most likely be a security deposit due at the time of signing the lease. Often utilities are not included with your rent. If this is the case, make sure that you factor in these expenses as well. Even when utilities are included, this generally does not include Internet or cable. Sitting down and writing out a budget will help with this task. Looking at the actual budget will help you to visualize what you can and cannot afford.
Once you know how much you can afford, think about living situations. Do you want a roommate? Do you have someone in mind? Having a roommate or roommates will lessen the cost of rent and utilities, but this living situation is not for everyone.
Now that you know what you can afford and if you will live alone or not, now is time to find a neighborhood. There are benefits to all of the various neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. There are also downfalls to each. When choosing a neighborhood, consider parking, public transportation, walk ability, safety, costs, and convenience. In a neighborhood where parking is tight, you may have to rent a parking spot, adding to your expenses. If you prefer public transportation as a means to get around, research the busses in the areas. Not all Pittsburgh neighborhoods are well served by public transportation. Many neighborhoods in this city are built on steep hills. If you are an avid walker, this may be advantageous. To others, a flatter area may be better. Lastly, research the area for safety. You can drive through in the evening to see if the area is well lit, and you should be able to find crime statistics on the city’s website.
At this point, you can start looking for actual apartments. This can be either a frustrating or exciting experience. Knowing the amount that you can afford, who you want to live with (if anyone), and where you want to live, will make this step much easier. Internet searches can be your first step. Filter for units in the location, size, and price range you desire. When you find a place that fulfills your needs, physically tour the apartment. You may want to ask a friend to go with you, especially if this is a privately owned rental property.
When you find the perfect apartment, it is easy to overlook the finishing steps, but it is foolish to do so. Read the lease in its entirety before signing. A lease is a legal contract. Is there a built-in rent increase? Can you have pets? Once you sign the lease, get a copy of the signed lease from the property owner with any amendments. Keep this copy throughout the stay in this apartment. When you sign the lease, you can now start to plan your move-in strategy. Before bringing in any furniture, take pictures of the apartment with a time and date stamp. Keep these photos with your lease so that you will not be charged for pre-existing damages to the apartment.
Good luck and happy apartment hunting from your friends at Jason Cohen Pittsburgh.