Whether you just graduated from college, landed your first full-time job, or are just ready to move out of your parent’s house, getting your own place is a big step. Looking for your first apartment is exciting, but it can also be a little scary. To help you make a smart decision, keep these 6 things in mind when searching for your first apartment.
Before you start your apartment search, the most important step is to determine your budget. A safe rule of thumb is to spend approximately 30% of your gross monthly income on rent. To figure that out, simply multiply your monthly income before taxes by 0.3. If the number you come up with is lower than you anticipated, you may want to expand your search to less expensive areas or consider a roommate.
Tip: Oak Park Apartments has more than 1,500 apartments in Oak Park, Forest Park, River Forest and Chicago at a variety of price points. Our studio and one-bedroom apartments are priced right for first-time renters, and our two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments are perfect for roommates.
While you can repair, replace or strategically hide things you don’t love about an apartment, changing its location is not an option. Before you commit to a place, make sure you scope out the neighborhood first. Try to visit on a weekday, as well as the weekend, during both the daytime and evening hours. Ensure there’s an affordable grocery store nearby, and consider other community must-haves that are important to you, whether that’s a park, good nightlife or a coffee shop with free WiFi.
Tip: All of our buildings are conveniently located just minutes from Chicago’s downtown loop via public transportation, and many reside within the area’s three historic districts. With apartments in Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest, as well as apartments in Chicago proper, we truly offer something for everyone.
Even if you think you’ve found the perfect apartment in the perfect neighborhood, you won’t be able to enjoy it if you’re spending all of your free time commuting to work or school. Consider how much time you are willing to spend traveling each day, and then take a test drive. Whether you plan to take public transportation, walk, ride a bike or drive, it’s a good idea to map out your commute before signing the lease.
Tip: With dozens of apartments located within walking distance of public transportation, Oak Park Apartments provides commuters with an easy commute to downtown Chicago, O’Hare International Airport and so much more.
There will be occasions as a renter when you’ll need to reach out to your landlord or maintenance staff, so it’s important to know that they are accessible and responsive. If your refrigerator dies or the heat stops working, you won’t want to wait days for help. Find out if there is 24-hour maintenance available, and get details about how to reach them in an emergency. You may also want to ask current or previous tenants about the management’s reliability.
Tip: Oak Park Apartments has a full-time maintenance and grounds staff, as well as 24-hour emergency maintenance service.
If you’re not keen on going to a laundromat to wash your clothes, make sure you get the scoop on the laundry situation. While your apartment may not have an in-unit washer and dryer, some apartment buildings have laundry facilities on each floor or in the basements for tenants. Just make sure you factor in the cost to use community machines as part of your monthly budget. If a laundromat is your only option, check to see if there is one close by, and whether it’s clean, affordable and open during convenient hours.
Tip: Most of the Oak Park Apartment buildings have coin-operated or mobile phone-operated laundry machines in the basements, and some have in-unit washers and dryers.
If you have pets or are planning to get one, make sure you review the apartment’s pet policy before moving in. Some apartments have breed or size restrictions for dogs, others only allow cats, and most pet-friendly apartments will require an additional security deposit. Sometimes there is even a higher monthly rent for pets, so read the policy thoroughly and ask questions if anything is unclear.
Tip: Oak Park Apartments is pleased to offer pet-friendly apartments. We allow both dogs and cats in Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest and up to two cats in our Chicago apartments.
Ready to start apartment hunting? Browse available apartments in Oak Park, Forest Park, River Forest and Chicago, or call (888) 512-8129 to make an appointment with the Oak Park Apartments leasing office.