The search for the perfect apartment need not be an ordeal. If you go about the process systematically, you'll find the most convenient and best apartment for you and your family.
The first step is to jot down answers to practical aspects like how big should the apartment be. What size of rooms do I need for my furniture? Do I need one bedroom or more? Do I need parking? Should there be a park/school nearby?
Study a map of the city you are going to live in and locate your place of employment. Then study the residential possibilities in and around that area or choose a beautiful, healthy, and safe environment away from work.
Work out your finances. Decide how much rent you can afford and whether you can give a substantial deposit.
Keep a watch out for "apartments available" classifieds in the newspapers and magazines and, spread the word that you are looking for a place. Tell the people at work, the grocer, friends and family, as well as local agents (however you will need to pay their charges). Be innovative and have someone drive around areas you have short listed as "possibilities" and look for signs that indicate there are places for rent.
View the apartments in the day time. Ask others who live in the building or area what their experience has been. Read through the agreement carefully and check whether the electricity, heaters, and air conditioners are working and whether the plumbing is functional.
Check things like is there a separate entrance, enough closets, does the building have washer/dryer facilities, what about cable TV and internet, and are pets and children welcome, what are the rules to be followed by tenants? Check how you feel about the apartment. Think do you see yourself living here? Do the windows have a view or do they look into other homes.
Be vigilant and check the condition of the building, what are the hallways and surroundings like, is there any garbage dump close by? Are windows safe and secure, does the building have adequate security, what are the nearby amenities, are you to pay for utilities or is it included in the rent?
In order to establish your credentials as a suitable tenant you will need to show the landlord a credit evaluation, your pay stub, or tax return, one or two references, as well as give a small introduction of yourself explaining where you are from, where you work, how many people will live at the apartment and so on.
The key to success is not to overspend and keep to your budget. Rent should ideally not exceed one quarter of the monthly income. Ensure that the neighborhood is safe and has everything you need close by. Always do comparison shopping. Have a clear idea of what rent is in the neighborhood. Be careful and check the apartment and neighborhood out at least three times at different times of the day.
Be sure the lease protects your rights as well as that of the landlord. Find out what rules would apply if for some reason you need to break the lease before it runs out. A place must give you a feeling of warmth and welcome and ideally the neighbors must be friendly.