10 Things to Consider When Comparing Apartments (Template Included)

Looking for a new apartment can be daunting, especially if you’re new to apartment living.

You may wonder:

  • How do I choose between two apartments?
  • What should I look for when touring a new apartment?
  • What questions should I ask the apartment management?
  • How do I make an apartment comparison chart?
  • Will my coworkers hear my neighbors having sex during Zoom meetings?

Well, I can’t help you with that last one. But rest easy, you’ve come to the right spot for help with most of your new apartment-related concerns.

I had all these same questions when I first started comparing apartments and have compiled a list of questions to ask and things to look for in your next apartment.

Here are 10 things to compare when looking for a new apartment.

Asking about these items will help you determine hidden costs, possible issues in the future, and the general level of quality the apartment offers.

Don’t forget to download the free Apartment Comparison Template included at the bottom of this article in both Excel and Google Doc versions. I used this exact template when I searched for new apartments and it helped keep all my notes and information organized and helped me choose an apartment.

Everything here is free, including the templates at the end of this article. But if you find value here, and you can afford it, please consider “buying me a coffee” by clicking the image below to donate.

10 Things to Consider When Comparing Apartments

Location

Most people choose apartments due to their convenience of not having to mow your own lawn, repair your own appliances, or shovel your driveway. But make sure you choose your apartment for a convenient location as well:

1. How far is it to work during rush hour? Use Google Maps and map the route at the time of day you’ll be driving to and from work.

2. How far is the nearest grocery store or gym? Places you go each week should be mapped to make sure you aren’t too far away.

3. How safe is the neighborhood? Drive around the apartment a couple miles in each direction to ensure there aren’t vacant buildings or boarded up houses as those areas may attract petty crime. As bad as stereotyping can be, the overall quality of cars and decorations in the apartment parking lot can also give you an idea of the types of neighbors you will have (college students vs. doctors for example).

Fees

Aside from asking the obvious question: “How much is the rent?“, here are some hidden up front costs that you may not have thought about during the excitement of looking for a new place to live.

4. How much is the security deposit? Is it lower if you have a certain credit score?

5. How much are application fees? Are there any specials or promotions they are running?

6. How much is the pet deposit and do you get it back at the end of the lease? Oftentimes, apartments will call it a pet “deposit” but you won’t get it back at the end of the lease so this is misleading. It may be for them to shampoo the carpets and won’t ever be returned.

Amenities

7. Is there a different floorplan available? Paying for an upgraded kitchen or larger living room might not be worth the money to you, but they will usually show you their higher-end models first to give you a good impression.

If the apartment is 2 floors or more, think about the pros and cons of that. Living on the bottom floor means you will hear people walking above you. Living on the top floor means you will need to move all your furniture up stairs and carry groceries further.

8. Is there a pool or gym? Ask to see them and check out the quality of the landscaping, patio furniture and gym equipment. All of these can be signs as to the level of quality of the overall community.

9. Are there washers and dryers in the unit? Taking your clothes to a laundromat every weekend might not sound so bad, but it can become rather annoying as the months drag on, especially in colder weather.

Miscellaneous

10. Is there a covered parking space? Is there a monthly fee for it? Ask to see the exact parking space. If it is far away from the apartment, remember you will be hauling groceries and items to and from your car in all sorts of weather.

Don’t forget to download the Apartment Comparison Template below to track the answers to all of these questions and more.

View the Google Sheets template here. (Copy and paste it to your own Sheet to use it.)

Happy apartment hunting!


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2 thoughts

  1. Awesome spreadsheet–I’m going to use that in future searches. I’ve been at my current place for quite a while now and hate moving, so hopefully I don’t need this any time too soon. Convenience amenities like washer/dryer and dishwasher are almost non-negotiable for me at this point, which can hike up the price a bit but are totally worth it in my eyes.

    1. I’m glad you liked it! I’m right there with you though, spending on certain conveniences is like buying more time which is pretty hard to do in most places. I like that you think that way!

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