Apartment Hunting Guide

2811 Hillsborough Street apartments
2811 Hillsborough Street apartments

If you’ve never searched for an apartment, it’s tough. There are dozens of apartments just near NC State, both student apartments and non-student apartments, with all kinds of differences between amenities, costs, and leasing terms.

So when you’re searching for an apartment, you’ve got to have a list of wants and needs. You need, for example, a way to get to class if you’re not within walking distance of NC State. So you’ll want an apartment with a shuttle or close to the WolfLine.

Here’s a guide to help you decide where to live, or you can download this checklist to take with you while you’re checking out apartments.

Costs: What’s the Most You Want to Pay Per Month?

You’ll have to pay up front for the application fee, security deposit, and any additional fees (like a pet deposit), so keep that in mind, too. Here’s what goes into your monthly rental costs.

  • Rent: How much you’ll pay to lease the living space, which depends on the type of lease that you have in your apartment (individual lease or a lease for the whole apartment) 
  • Utilities: Electricity (or gas) and water, though utilities may be included in your rent depending on the apartment you choose
  • Additional fees: Can vary from monthly pet fees to premiums for furnished apartments, units with pool views, or upgraded rooms in older apartment buildings

Size: How Much Living Space Do You Want?

If you have roommates, you may all want separate bathrooms or want to share bathrooms to keep costs down. Square footage and bedroom sizes may also be a factor in which apartments you choose, so take a look at the floor plans.

  • Number and size of bedrooms: Do they all have walk-in closets and similar dimensions, or is the master bedroom much bigger? You can use this rent-splitting calculator to evenly split the price. 
  • Number of bathrooms: Full and half bathrooms (bathrooms with no shower or bathtub, useful as guest bathrooms)
  • Closets: Do you want walk-in closets in the bedrooms? Want extra closets in the hallway?
  • Outdoor space: Do you want a balcony or a patio?

Unit Features: What Do You Want Included in Your Apartment?

furnished living room in student apartment near NC State UniversityMany of the modern student apartments are more like dorm rooms on steroids, with all the kitchen features included and, if you’re renting a furnished apartment, some chairs, couches, and beds.

Some features that you may want include an in-unit washer and dryer (it’s a step above using a laundry room), an elevator for multi-story apartment buildings, and ceiling fans.

Amenities: What Do You Want to Use at the Apartment Complex?

Living off campus means you can’t just walk to Carmichael and use the workout equipment, tennis courts, or aerobics classes. But student apartments often have a whole list of amenities that you can use instead, including a workout room, swimming pool, BBQ areas, car washing station, tennis courts, and basketball courts.

Other Features You Want for Your Apartment

There are a few miscellaneous features you may want to have when you rent an apartment.

  • Payment options: Do you have to pay rent directly to the office, or is there a place to pay online?
  • Shuttle to campus: If you can’t drive to campus, can you get to class on a community shuttle or catch a bus nearby?
  • Parking: Is there assigned parking with guest spaces? Is there unassigned parking? Is there a fee to park at your apartment?
  • Dumpster locations: Is there trash pickup from your front door? Are there dumpsters close to your apartment?
  • Pet-friendly apartments: Can you bring your dog or cat with you? Is there a fenced-in dog park for your furry friend?
  • Location: Are you close to a grocery store or fast food? Do you want to be close to the highway or Downtown Raleigh?
  • Lease terms: Can you easily sublease your apartment if you move back home for the summer? How much does it cost to break your lease?

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!

Kidding, apartment-hunting isn’t that bad. Just take this essential apartment-hunting checklist, go on a bunch of tours, read lots of reviews, and you’ll be fine.

Do you have any advice for first-time renters? Let us know in the comments!


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