When you're in the middle of a stressful PCS move it's easy to just throw your hands up during your apartment search and take any residence that looks good initially. But, if you do this, you risk being stuck with a hole-in-the-wall for a year or more if you don't take time to take stock of your potential living space.
Before you sign your name on the lease you should take the time to follow Apartmentliving.com's tips for finding a nice apartment:
1) Sufficient safety features, including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors, should be in place. Look inside the apartment as well as in the hallways and in other common areas.
2) Check out faucets, toilets and the pipes under kitchen cabinets for potential leaks in plumbing.
3) Check the water pressure in the unit. Also check the water temperature. Turn on the water in the shower when you walk into the unit and see how long it takes to get warm or hot (your bathing preference). Keep the shower on while you complete the rest of your walk through. The temperature should remain comfortable by the time you leave the unit. If the water is cold by the time that you leave, there's a good chance that you could run out of hot water in the mornings.
4) Find out if there is an in-unit water heater or if there is one that is shared by multiple units. This will also affect the amount of hot water that runs to the apartment.
5) Even though the water heater might be large enough, if it is shared, your neighbor upstairs might like to take early morning, hot showers that last an hour. Regardless of the size of the heater, if you shower after your neighbor, you'll be cold.
6) Check the water heater and furnace to make sure they are free of rust. Look for rocks, stones or other debris on the outside of the heater or furnace. This debris or chipping may indicate leaks. These leaks could possibly indicate carbon monoxide problems.
7) Make sure that all appliances in the unit work properly and are not damaged. If there is not a washer or dryer in the unit, ask to see the common laundry area. Make sure the common area is well maintained and is well lit. Make sure that access to the common laundry area is limited to residents only.
8) Look for any evidence of insects or rodents, both on the floor in visible areas as well as inside cabinets, drawers and closets.
9) Run your hand along the outside of the window to check for drafts.
10) Look up at the ceiling for any water damage. This may indicate either a leak from outside or very careless upstairs neighbors. If there is discoloration, it may be a sign of mold.
11) Check to see if there is any peeling paint or wallpaper, or if any of the walls show signs of cracking or repairs. This may also indicate water seepage problems or may indicate a breech in the building foundation.
12) Locks should be sturdy and not wobbly.
13) Doors should open and close easily and fit well within the doorframe. The hinges should be sturdy. This is of superior importance when inspecting doors that lead to the outside. The apartment should have a deadbolt on all outside doors.
14) Turn off and on all lighting inside the apartment to check for electrical shortages.
15) Bring a small electrical appliance (like a radio or clock) with you. Check the outlets in the apartment to make sure that they all work properly and there are no electrical problems.
16) Don't rush through your inspection of your potential new apartment. Be thorough and take your time. After all, it will be your home for at least the next year, make sure you choose a place that you know you'll be happy with.
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