7 Tips to Help Choose or Avoid an Apartment

Lighting and Direction

Natural light will help reduce artificial lighting costs and help create a brighter tone for your apartment.

Directions and Light:

  • Southern facing: very bright throughout the day
  • Eastern facing: early morning and afternoon sun, but will be darker during the day
  • North facing: no direct sunlight, but big windows will help make the space brighter
  • Western facing: late afternoon light for when you return from work
Small Apartment with lots of natural light : malelivingspace

Check Basements

Basements are more likely to have bugs, moisture (and mold), and noise, but less likely to have natural light. However, basements can be less expensive, so before choosing a basement unit make sure to spot these potential issues and ask what precautions and services they have to fix these issues.

Avoid Gas Burners

If you like to cook, avoid gas burners which can increase indoor air pollution levels of NO2 (25%-33%) and carbon monoxide (35-39%) during summer and winter, respectively.

Rent & Utilities

A general suggestion is that rent should be 20-30% of gross income. However, if your income would not cover some or all living expenses, calculate your expected expenses to get a better idea of spending limits. For example, calculate expected rent and utilities for each academic quarter and subtract from the amount of loan and / or income you will have during this quarter. This will give you an idea of how much leftover you have to spend on food and other costs.

Some apartments also include high cost utilities like heat, electricity, and water with rent. When searching, remember to click on options like “Utilities Included” to screen out apartments that don’t bundle utilities and rent.

Water running out of Faucet - Clarksville, TN Online

Location to Public Transit

Walking to class or work may not always be feasible with extreme or bad weather. Check bus, trolley, and Drexel free student shuttle routes to see if your potential apartment location is to public transportation.

Students using AI to help reshape public transportation during COVID-19 |  Penn State University

Pests

City living can mean hidden mice, silverfish, cockroaches, and other undesirable apartment buddies. To see if there are pests, make sure to check out these parts of the apartment for signs of droppings and holes

  • Corners of the room and behind radiators: holes for mice
  • Behind large appliances: droppings
  • Electrical Outlets: insect droppings
  • Pungent Odors
  • Cabinets: droppings or holes

Mold and Mildew

Water damage and high moisture can lead to mold and mildew issues over time. Look for potential issues where that may occur or already is developing.

  • Below sinks: leaking pipes
  • Ceiling: discoloration or peeling
  • Grout: discoloration
  • Behind refrigerator: mildew and mold
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