Apartment complexes are notorious for raising their rates on a yearly basis (and they have every right – just look at your lease agreement). If you’re already dissatisfied with your living situation for one reason or another, getting out at the end of your lease – before they raise your rent – might be a good idea.
There are both advantages and disadvantages of shopping around (and moving) every time your lease is up. For instance, if you moved for a new job, you may have needed to snatch up the first place you could find, rather than shop around for the best price, neighborhood, and apartment conditions. This is why most people who move to a new area move after the first year – they’ve had time to figure out what they got, what they want, and what’s out there. On the other hand, moving every year is labor-intensive, stressful, and may not land you in a better position than you started, so it’s important to weight all the information carefully. Here are a few works of advice if you think you’re ready for a move.
Keep Your Ears Perked for Upcoming Changes to Your Current Rates
Maybe the rent isn’t going up, but there may be other unfavorable changes, such as discontinued amenities or increased pet rent. If the ‘status quo’ changes for any reason, it might still be a good idea to start shopping around. Hint: you won’t know about these changes unless you actually read the notices from your management. In most cases, they’re required to give residents notice in writing a certain number of days or weeks before changes take effect.
Start Shopping Early
Moving quickly might be the reason you’re in a place you don’t love to begin with. Making a second whirlwind decision because you didn’t allow yourself enough time to shop around will probably leave you dissatisfied, again. Note when your lease agreement ends, and place a reminder on your computer or smartphone at least a few months in advance to give you time to make an informed decision.
Ask Yourself If Prospective Apartments Represents a Significant Discount or Better Living Situation
Cheaper rent is nice, and new facilities will be the first things to draw your attention. Don’t be so eager to move out that you fail to do the math and determine if it’s worth it though, because, again, you may end up dissatisfied and paying just as much as before your move. Make a pro/con list and ask yourself a few of these questions:
- Are there other fees, deposits, utility, or hidden expenses that make up the difference in the immediate impression of a discount?
- If the difference won’t make an impact on your budget, is it still worth it to you because of other factors like condition, comfort, space, neighbors, location, or better management?
Pay Attention to Price Per Square Foot
A new place may sound like a great deal – the same number of beds and baths for a lower price than you’re paying now. But what’s the difference in square feet? Advertisements and even tours are designed to make rentals look as spacious as possible, so even looks can be deceiving. Knowing the numbers will tell you whether your possessions will fit, and how tightly.
Get Insider Information and Read (Real) Reviews
Finally, some times an apartment will clear all the previous checks, but still end up being a nightmare for some unknown factor. Although you can never be 100% sure of what you’re getting until you live there, talking to current residents and reading un-biased reviews left by former residents will give you a pretty good idea.
Renting could be a dream, but only if you do your homework before you move. Whether you end up moving this year, or not, keep these things in mind as you continue to search for that ‘perfect’ apartment you’ll love for years.