Whether you’re leaving the college dorm or just venturing out on your own for the first time, an apartment will most likely be your first home for at least a few years. Searching for an apartment can be tiring, and you want to make sure you find the right place that will not only make you happy, but will work for your lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you not only find the best apartment available, but make it one that you’ll enjoy living in.

Before You Rent

Before you thumb through your local rental magazine and pick out a place, remember that the models shown in local ads are never quite the unit you will get. Make a list of the things you must have and definitely do not want in a new apartment. Be sure that the building you’re interested in meets your criteria before you sign a lease. Keep in mind that a lease is a legally binding document, so don’t just settle for the first place available if it doesn’t have the things you need like an on-site laundromat or free parking.

Protect Your Deposit

Although you’re probably excited to get your furniture moved in right away, make sure you take photographs of every room in the apartment beforehand, noting any damage or stains on the carpet. Write anything down that you think should be fixed and take notes of any areas of the apartment that need upkeep or show signs of wear. This is the best way to protect your security deposit when you move out. Notify the landlord immediately of any problems you notice like a dripping faucet or an air conditioning unit that isn’t working. The sooner you point out the problems, the better the odds are that they can be fixed, and you’ll have proof that the landlord was notified.

Get Creative

Most apartments for first time renters are small, especially for young, single people. You may need to get creative when it comes to finding extra storage like using an ottoman that opens up for blankets and linens. Try to find new ways to keep your kitchen items hung on the wall or in bins so that you have extra room to cook. Add a new set of curtains to the rooms to give your apartment a comfortable, more personal touch. Think outside of the box and decorate your place with funky floor lamps and cool framed artwork. Just remember that any structural changes should always be pre-approved before you go on an interior decorating spree. Being responsible, enjoying your new place, and knowing what you want in apartment is the best way to ensure you’ll find a place that will make you happy.

For a rental management company, contact a company such as Gerber Management Services.