Searching for an apartment is a difficult task. There seems to be a hundred posts for apartments for rent and two hundred reasons why every single one of them is wrong for you. Since our family has moved so much, I’ve pick up on some things to look out for in an apartment when you go to view it for the first time. Some of these seem like pretty arb things to look for, but honestly checking for the little things that could potentially go wrong is one of the most important things to do. There’s nothing worse than moving in somewhere and then realising that there’s mould in the cupboards or drawers that get stuck when you open them.
So, I’ve compiled a little helpful checklist for if you are looking for a new place. I always keep this as a little note on my phone to go through when I’m viewing a place, as it’s super easy to forget the little things
This one is pretty important, especially in South Africa. Check the security of the building itself, any communal gates and doors you will be sharing with other tenants, and look for motion senstive lights and or security guards. In the apartment itself, check the front door lock – if the key turns easily or not – and whether there are security gates on the doors and windows. Lastly, here’s a little gem from my mum that I would never have thought of: check for flat roofs outside windows that would be easily accesible entrance points for potential break ins.
This might seem pretty obvious but check the water pressure. I know it’s going to seem weird when you’re checking out an apartment but turn on all the taps, test the shower, flush the toilet, check where the geyser is stored and if it has a blanket to preserve the warm water. And don’t be afraid to ask questions – ask the tenant if the shower or taps ever leak, ask if there’s been any problems with mould or water pressure. It never hurts to ask!
This is in the same line as the water, but check the general utlities. Know if it is prepaid electricity or monthly bill, and check if the water is included in the rent (it often is in student flats in South Africa) or if you will billed for it. Also check for internet and phone lines if you’re going to be needing them. Another useful thing if you’re a poor student who occasionally needs so wifi for a pretty decent price, and you live in Stellenbosch – see if you have a SWISH hotspot nearby. I have loads all over my building and the wifi prices are pretty good for short term purchases if you have a project you need to research for the next day.
Make sure everything fits! If you’re getting serious about an apartment, measure the rooms and take into account where the cupboard, windows and plug sockets are. If there are built-in cupboards, make sure they can fit all of your clothes! And if there aren’t, work out alternative storage for all of your things. What is nice about moving out is having more space for your things, because you’re no longer just reliant on one bedroom for everything, but similarly remember furniture for your living room and kitchen as well. One of the worst things about my current apartment is that I don’t have space for a double bed, which really really sucks. I had to compromise, because there is technically space, but then I don’t really have room for anything else…
This is another one that I got from my mum, that I probably wouldn’t have thought of if I’d have looked for apartments just by myself. Yes, it is definitely important to check if there are any current problems, like missing door/drawer handles, leaky taps, drawers that get stuck, plugs that don’t work or light bulbs that have blown. But also make sure to ask if there is any planned maintenance in the near future. You might have to check with the agent on this one, but you don’t want to move in only to find that they’re going to be painting the whole place a week later and ruining all of your things.
Lastly, just check out the general layout and liveability of the place. Imagine living there, look at where the plug points are for easy access, open and shut the doors and drawers to see if any stick or are really squeaky. Find out what keys are available for what doors, if you’re a big stickler for privacy. And one last gem of wisdom from my mum, look outside the windows for nearby air-conditioning units or other external noisy machinery, busy roads or bars that might make living there a little bit too noisy for comfort. And finally, make sure that is worth what you’re paying – don’t overpay for somewhere that looks nice at face value.
So, there they are: a few tips and tricks to remember when looking for a new apartment – I hope this helps anyone looking for somewhere new to live!
Good luck and happy hunting!
And let me know what you think! Do you have any other tips worth noting?