The following is a post by Paco Vega. Paco is a single dad who writes about parenting issues and raising a family in the digital world. Interested in blogging for us? Email here.
Maybe you've just become a single dad, or perhaps you've been going it alone for some time. Either way, if it's time to go apartment hunting, you need to think about some things you'd never consider if you were looking for an apartment for yourself. Here are some tips to get you started:
Establish a Budget
To be affordable, your rent shouldn't eat up more than 30 percent of your monthly income, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Obviously, places in San Francisco or New York City will cost considerably more than apartments for rent in Atlanta, GA, or Billings, MT, and salaries don't always keep up with the increased costs of living. Local rents will also vary depending on the neighborhood.
Contact a local rental property expert to discuss neighborhoods within your budget. Certain factors such as who pays the utilities will cause variation in the rent amount. Find out what utilities you have to pay and how much they typically run.
Check out the Neighborhood
Look for a neighborhood that's accessible to your work place. If you take public transportation, make sure a stop is nearby, and take commute times into consideration and how it will affect your ability to get the kids to school on time.
Does the neighborhood look family-oriented, so your children can make friends with other kids? Are there parks, playgrounds and safe areas for them to play in? Larger apartment complexes may be more likely to have designated play areas, and this will help your child meet other kids right in the apartment community.
Don't forget to call the local police department to find out about the neighborhood crime rate.
Check out Apartment Ratings
Read the reviews on apartment rating websites to learn what past and current tenants think of the complex's management and maintenance department.
What to Ask on the Tour
- Who pays for utilities, and if tenants pay a portion, how much is that?
- What type of heating and cooling systems are used?
- Are pets allowed? Find out if there is a security deposit for a pet, if they charge extra for multiple pets and if you have to pay an extra monthly fee to have pets.
- How much is the security deposit and what is the refund policy on the deposit?
- What lease lengths are offered?
- How far in advance do you have to give notice if you want to move out?
- Is there on-site maintenance? Is the maintenance team available 24/7 for emergencies?
- Are there communal laundry facilities, in-unit washers and dryers or hookups? If facilities are shared, find out how much it costs to do laundry and what the laundry center hours are.
- Can you paint your children's bedrooms? What's the policy regarding painting when you move out?
- Can you put up shelves to add storage to childrens' bedrooms?
Make a List of Your Must-Have Features
Talk to your kids about what they want in an apartment and the apartment community. If you can financially swing it, make their requests high on the priority list, since those features may ease their transition.
Consider the features you think are most important. Storage for the kids' toys and such should be high on that priority list.
Finally, don't over-analyze things. It's the love inside the apartment that will make it your home.
What is one thing you consider when searching for a place to raise your child?
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