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aptAs an out-of-state student I was excited to move to Georgia and experience life in the South. During my college experience at UGA, I fell in love with Athens, Atlanta and pretty much the state of Georgia. For that reason, I applied to several jobs in Atlanta, hoping to rent my first apartment in my home-away-from-home.

However, that plan quickly changed……..

because I received a wonderful opportunity to work in Connecticut.

So after graduation, instead of traveling to Europe, or enjoying a trip to the beach, I spent time learning about the state of Connecticut and researching the best locations for an apartment. Relocation can be tough, especially when you know diddly squat about the area. I spent four weeks researching, calling and touring, to finally renting my first apartment. Now that I have finally settled into my new place, I wanted to share some tips and tricks I learned about relocation and finding a great apartment.

  1. Money Aint’ a thang – Before searching for apartments, plan out your budget to see how much money you can spend each month on rent. This is a great opportunity to whip out those Excel skills, and create a spreadsheet that calculates an estimated budget. Here is an example, that compares an ideal budget (how much you would hope to spend) to an actual budget (how much was actually spent) on entertainment, groceries, clothes, gas, miscellaneous and of course rent. A good general rule of thumb is that rent should not exceed 1/3 of your gross income. Once you have determined your price range, Apartmentguide.com is a great website to help you with your search (that can be filtered by price range, beds, etc.).
  2. Connections- Since you are new to the area, it’s always helpful to gain advice from someone who already lives in the state or the surrounding area. Whether its extended family members, friends or even online reviews, they all provide a great advantage because it will help you learn more about the apartment complex and surrounding community. If all else fails, this is the perfect opportunity to connect with co-workers or your supervisor. They will be very helpful, and it will jumpstart a relationship before you actually start your job with the company.
  3. Studios, Lofts and 1 Bedroom apartments- Since I have never searched for an apartment, I did not know the difference between a studio, loft and a 1 bedroom apartment. For a studio, picture one large room, meaning there is no separate room or doors for the bedroom or living room area. A loft on the other hand can be designed in a way where the bedroom is located up a short flight of stairs (with no bedroom door), with the living room area and kitchen on the main floor. Lastly, a one bedroom apartment can have a variety of layouts, but generally there will be a bedroom door, a tile floor for the kitchen and a separate space for the living room.

    Studio floor plan


    1 Bedroom floor plan

  4. Speak with a Leasing Agent – After you have made a list of potential apartments, make sure to CALL or EMAIL a leasing agent to see if there are any rooms available (or call just in case you need to schedule an appointment to tour a bedroom). This definitely got the best of me during the beginning of my search, because I would tour an apartment, fall in love with the size and community, to only find out there were no apartments available. So remember to Call!
  5. Dress and act professionally – When you meet the landlord, try to act like a grownup. You might not want to wear your baseball hat backwards, baggy sweatpants or use a lot of profanity – it could reflect badly on you. Oftentimes there are several people applying for only one available apartment, so you want to present yourself at your best, so your name remains at the top of the list.

    Nearby stores and restaurants

    • Pay attention to any off-smells or loud noises
    • Open all the closets and cabinets
    • Take measurements of the rooms and the doors (to make sure your stuff will fit)
    • Turn the faucets on and off
    • Search for outlets, cables and count the number of kitchen cabinets
    • See if the parking lots and common areas are clean and well-lit
    • Map the estimated distance between the apartment and your job, grocery stores, malls, etc.
    • IMPORTANT QUESTION TO ASK: “Are there any utilities included in the rent?” This is a very important question because it will make a huge difference for your actual budget. An $850 per month apartment, with no included utilities can actually be more expensive than a $1020 per month apartment that includes electricity, hot water, heat and cooking gas. 

Please feel free to comment below with any comments or any additional questions. Also, don’t hesitate to send me an email if you will like to connect on LinkedIn. Good luck on your apartment search!

Nicole Peterson

ABJ Mass Media Arts, minor in Spanish

Class of 2013