Apartment Hunting 101

Steps in Housing Search

  1. Decide on Budget –  should be no more than 28% of your income if paying on your own (see more information below);
  2. Decide if you should have Roommate(s), how many, and who they might be;
  3. Research: what’s available, what’s included in the lease, what are the lease prices, what are the property features;
  4. Prioritize what amenities or property features are important;
  5. Visit for tour, visit at different times of day/night/week to check out safety/noise/parking situation;
  6. Talk to current residents and read reviews online (see Resources below);
  7. Review lease agreements and ask Questions to Ask Landlord;
  8. Check specials – there is a housing glut in the area around campus. None of the complexes have 100% occupancy and all have occupancy goals they have to meet and offer enticing specials all spring and summer;  Within the city of Greensboro the housing occupancy rate is high so you will probably see fewer specials.
  9. Secure the money for rental application, deposits, and fees;
  10. Decide on Location (do it together, all the roommates should agree);
  11. Complete Rental Application;
  12. Get all promises for repairs or renovations in writing BEFORE signing the lease and sign it along with the landlord;
  13. Sign Lease – student and a co-signers or guarantors if student’s credit is too low or not established;
  14. Save copies of everything in a special folder – this includes the lease, copies of checks, copies of written agreements, copies of apartment rental condition reports, copies of all requests for repairs and maintenance notices.

Things to Consider When Deciding to Look for Your First or Next Apartment

1.  Costs/Your Budget = Salary – Rent + utilities.

    • Have a discussion with your family and UNCG Financial Aid about what funds you will have available for housing.
    • Complete the Student Budget sheet to see what you can afford;
    • If you do not know how to do a budget here are two great resources (though there are many more in your local library and on the web)
                     -  Suze Orman’s Financial Guidebook: Put the 9 Steps to Work
                     - The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman

2.  Roommates – Should you have them? Can you afford to live alone?  Who will they be?

  • Pro: Roommates reduce the amount of rent you will pay
  • Con: Sometimes living with your best friend(s) is not best idea – who will you complain to about your roommate if you have problems?   It’s those cute habits you love now that will probably be what you tire of and fight over later.
  • Be proactive, create a Sample Roomate Agreement to prevent future problems.
    • Roommate Agreement: chores; cleanliness; bills; guests/overnight visitors; study/social/TV/game time; sleep time; food sharing; how to handle conflict.
    • Some student-oriented properties will do roommate matching – be honest about ALL your habits when filling out the form.

3.  Housing Options – Apartment complex, apartment in a house? a rental house? Townhouse? Condo?

  • Do Research – what are the prices of a student oriented property vs. house vs. traditional apartment community, etc. What amenities are available; What do other people have to say about the property (see websites for Reviews below)
  • Look at many options – take time – and try to get all the roommates to look at places together
    • On Campus – UNCG is building new apartment-style buildings check these out for the convenience of a school-year lease.
    • Off-Campus Student-Oriented Apartment Managed by Property Management Co.
    • Off-Campus House in neighborhood near campus

    -  Sunset Hills – west/north west of campus south of Benjamin Parkway
    -  Fisher Park – north of campus
    -  College Hill neighborhoodeast of campus
    –  College Park neighborhood – west of campus
    -  Glenwood neighborhood – south of campus

    • Apartment, Condo, Townhome, House in traditional neighborhood in Greensboro area
    • Rooms and Apartments in Houses
    • Traditional Apartment Communities, Houses, Townhouses, Condos:

    - W. Market Street (has GTA bus Route)
    - W. Friendly Street (has GTA bus Route)
    - W. Wendover (has GTA bus Route)

  • Generally the further north you go in the city – rental prices get more expensive

4.  Neighborhood/Safety –  Remember you are not just renting an apartment – you are living in a neighborhood.  The importance of the factors below may change over time.  Right now you might want a college student oriented neighborhood, but maybe when you are older a traditional neighborhood in a suburb that is quiet may be more your style.  Here are some things to think about as you drive around the area your apartment is in:  What does that neighborhood look like?  What does the neighborhood offer:

  • Services like dry cleaners, gas stations;
  • Restaurants and places where you can get groceries
  • Entertainment – movies, nightclubs, etc.
  • Parking (is there plenty of off-street or on street?  Is it regulated – no parking signs, 2 hour time limits, etc.
  • Is it mostly residential?  Are there a lot of family homes or mostly rental homes, or a mix
  • Are there Business offices in the area – how does that impact traffic volume and parking?
  • Are there schools or day care centers nearby – this impacts traffic, speed limits, and noise?
  • What is the traffic like during the day, night, weekend?
  • Atmosphere – is it lively or quiet?
  • Safety – you can check out neighborhood statistics using these resources:
SpotCrime.com

 5.  Convenience/Commuting Time – How long to commuter to school/work? Is the place you are looking at easy to get in and out? Are there multiple routes to school or work? Other things to consider:

  • Is it Walking distance to Campus or work?
  • Is it Biking distance to Campus or work?
  • Are you on a HEAT or GTA Route?
  • Will you have to include the cost of Commuter Parking in your budget?

6.  Schedule – If you live far from campus – how you schedule your classes and work will be important so you don’t waste gas going back and forth. Other things to consider

  • Figure in commute (drive time, bike time, walking time)
  • Meals – when are you going to eat; where?  Will there be time if you go back home?
  • Homework/Group Projects
  • Campus Events
  • Socializing with Friends

7.  Amenities – what are the priority, deal breaker, must haves like private bath, washer/dryer in unit? Does it have a club house and what is in there? Popular amenities at apartment complexes:

  • Free Coffee
  • Community Programs and Socials
  • Meeting Rooms
  • Computer Lab
  • Gaming Rooms
  • Pool/jacuzzi or hot tub
  • Fitness Center
  • Tanning Beds
  • Movie Theatres
  • Free Parking
  • Utilities included (electric –caps; internet/cable; w/s/t)
  • Washer Dryer (in unit, in building, on complex)
  • Central Air or box units
  • Furnished (in student oriented properties)
  • Community Assistants

8.  Assessing the Property – In addition to checking out the neighborhood, here are things to look for in an apartment complex or even around a rental house, condominium, or townhome:

  • Landscaping – does it diminish in quantity and quality the further you are away from leasing office/clubhouse?  Is it overgrown or nicely trimmed? Are windows and doors easily seen?
  • Lighting – on your night drive through check to see how well lit the parking lots, buildings, walkways, stairwells, trash/recycling/mailboxes area are?
  • Building Maintenance – Is the siding clean, intact, and maintained? Are tenants screens/blinds intact? Are light fixtures intact?  Is paint in good condition or is there any peeling or flaking?  Do the ac units/heat pumps look in good condition (not rusted over)? Are buildings numbered/labeled well? Is there clear signage to navigate through the property? What is the condition of any recreational equipment (like playgrounds) and spaces (pool, tennis or basketball courts)?
  • Are Driveways/sidewalks/trash area maintained?
  • What is the condition of Clubhouse compared to buildings? Is it in better shape and better maintained than the residential buildings?
  • How is parking – is there a lot or designated off-street parking? Is there enough for all the tenants?

Beware of Online Scams

Online rental scams are common, but can be avoided. Avoid renting properties you haven’t seen inside and/or ones where you haven’t met the landlord or property manager. If you are responding to an ad check the ad information against the property management companies website to make sure phone numbers are correct – call the property management company number that was online or in the phone book to confirm they are renting the unit. Online scams regarding advanced rental payment and security deposits fraud are becoming more frequent. Avoid wiring money or using any type of electronic transfer.

Review other area of our website for apartment complex lists, maps of housing in Greensboro, NC Landlord/Tenant Laws, What to do if there is a problem between you and your landlord, and programs and resources that the Office of Campus Activities & Programs offers Commuter Students.

 

Resources

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