Apartment Search Tips for Austin Texas
Searching for apartments in Austin or anywhere for that matter can be a time consuming and frustrating effort. But there are a few tips you can follow to make your Austin apartment search a little bit easier. The most important one is to set priorities. There is no such thing as a perfect apartment but with a little effort you can find the next best thing.
Apartment Search Priorities
The first priority you should set is where you want to live. Do you want to live close to work or school? Or would you rather live close to activities you like to do? Ask yourself, what are the conveniences you most want near your apartment? This will help you narrow down an area to live in. Each area or neighborhood many times has a different personality and different pros and cons. Three ways to get to know a neighborhood or area are; do research online for Austin neighborhoods, drive around to get a feel of the neighborhood and see how traffic is and determine if this is the kind of place you can see yourself living, and ask people that live in that area what they like and don't like about it. One of the most important things to know is can I afford to rent in this area.
Finding the right neighborhood is just as important, if not more, than finding an apartment that has all the amenities you want. Many people take this for granted. Once you find the area(s) you want to live, it is now important to narrow down your apartment search by making a list of the amenites you must have as well as like to have.
Do you need a washer/dryer in your apartment or is an onsite facility ok? Is there covered parking available? Living in Austin Texas, if you have a really nice car, it is a big plus to have covered parking because leather seats get really hot in the summer and we do have hail storms from time to time. Will you be spending time at the apartment pool? Do I feel safer in gated apartments? Do I need a furnished apartment? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself.
Write down those amenities you MUST HAVE as well as those you would LIKE TO HAVE. Create a checklist so that you can keep track of what apartments fit your criteria. This list may change as you start to do your search. For instance, if you are looking at an older neighborhood, many of those apartments may not have the amenities you thought you needed so now you are willing to live without them because you really like the neighborhood.
Other Apartment Priorities
Are you looking for a pet friendly apartment? Almost every apartment in Austin will accept some pets but you will have to pay for it. The three types of payments are pet deposits (refundable), pet fees (non-refundable) and monthly pet rent. Many apartments will do a combination of these payments. Even if they do accept pets, most of them have restrictions on certain types of pets or breeds. Exotic pets or aggressive dog breeds for example. Some apartments require a pet interview (seeing the pet in person...don't worry, your pets won't have to answer any questions). We recommend that you get letters of recommendation from your prior landlord and/or veterinarian if you think your pet may be in question.
What floor would you like to live on? Some apartments will even charge a different rent for higher floors. Usually it is less rent unless there are views involved. First floors are easier to move into and get into on a daily basis but the top floor doesn't have any footsteps coming from the apartment above them.
Visiting the Apartments
Once you have narrowed down your Austin apartment list, it is now time to visit the apartments. When viewing the apartment complex and the units available, it is important to keep an eye out for the condition of the building, landscape and amenities. Is the landscaping taken care of? Are there clear maintenance issues that appear to have been there awhile? Is the pool clean? This may give you an idea of how much the apartment manager cares about the apartment community. Keep in mind however, there are poor apartment managers in some of the most beautifully landscaped apartments.
When you are there, you should visit with some of the current apartment residents. They can give you great feedback on the quality of management, noise levels and possible recurring maintenance issues. Try to ask several apartment residents however because just one opionion is not always everyone's reality. People in Austin are typically friendly and many will be happy to give you an honest rating of the apartment.
If you have the time, you may also want to drive by and walk around the apartment at night. This will give you an idea of lighting, security and parking issues.
Be sure and take notes for each apartment because after only a few apartments they will all begin to run together in your mind and you will quickly forget which aspects you liked or disliked about the different apartments.
Timing is an Issue
Finding the right apartment in Austin can be time consuming so we definitely recommend that you get started before you actually need an apartment. However, most apartments will not know their true vacancies until a few weeks ahead of time because they usually only require a 30 days notice from their tenants. There are some apartments that know a few months out. For example, some of the more student oriented apartments will offer pre-lease opportunites that would allow you to find a vacancy months in advance.
Do all of your research first. And then when you know you are ready to sign a lease and move in within the next few weeks, then you should start calling apartment managers for their rent and vacancy information and coming by for a guided tour. Rents tend to change on a weekly or monthly basis. However, vacancy can change within minutes...especially for some of the smaller Austin apartments. So be sure and move quickly if you find an apartment that really fits your priorities. The first person to put a deposit down is the one who will get that apartment so have your checkbook ready.
Important Questions for Apartment Managers
Some questions you might consider when talking to apartment managers are:
Are any utilities included in the rent?
Which bills do the renters pay for?
What are the average bills for your size apartment? (You can also call call Austin Energy and give them the address and unit number and they will give you an historical average.)
What is the tenant's responsibility for wear and tear or damage to the apartment?
Can the apartments lease be transferred to another person's name if you have to move?
What information is required to apply for the apartment?
Other Apartment Search Tips
Measure your furniture before hand and take along a measuring tape to make sure your furniture will fit in the apartment. You may need to buy or rent furniture to make up for what you don't have or doesn't fit.
If you really like the apartment, there is no need to conseal it. Be honest. Austin apartments do not negotiate rent so pretending you don't like it will not put you in any favor. Let them know you like the apartment and they may hold it for you for a day until you are finished with your apartment search.
Finally, if you know you will only be in the apartment temporarily, then it is wise to go with a short term lease to provide flexibility. However, you may want to consider a longer term lease to get a lower rent or at least to provide stability with your rent so it won't change on you when your short term lease expires and you go month to month.
Good luck on your Austin apartment search!