Posted Jan 9, 2015

Apartment Hunting with Roomies: How to Stay Organized

Finding an apartment all on your own can be challenging and stressful (especially when you live in a competitive city), but having roommates can make things even more complex. All of you have to coordinate times for viewings, plan budgets and pick moving days, so disorganization can be disastrous.

Apartment Hunting with Roomies How to Stay Organized

Whenever I’ve moved in with friends and we did not establish a plan, we ended up picking last minute and getting a place that was only OK. Fortunately, apartment hunting with roomies can go smoothly. Here are a few tips that will establish organization:

Meet Up

Talking over Facebook messenger or a group text is NOT the way to go when apartment hunting. Whenever I’ve tried to plan anything in messenger, things go south quickly – people get away with being vague and everyone is left wondering what’s going on.

Apartment Hunting with Roomies How to Stay Organized - Meet Up

Instead, set a time and place when you can all meet. Go to a coffee shop or meet at your apartment and don’t leave until you have a plan. Make sure you get together at a time when all the roomies can attend – you don’t want to ignore the needs of one of your future roommates.

Discuss Priorities

At your roomie meeting, have everyone write down a list of apartment priorities, labeled in order of importance. For instance, your friend who has a cat might have “pet-friendly” at the top of the list, while your buddy with a tight budget could list “affordability” as the most important.

Apartment Hunting with Roomies How to Stay Organized - Discuss Priorities

See where your priorities match up, and search for apartments that include those intersecting needs. You all should also agree upon things you don’t need or are willing to compromise.

When I moved in with three of my friends, we decided a dishwasher wasn’t as important as having parking spaces, though if we could find a place that had both and was within our budgets, we’d love it! Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice easy dish-cleaning. Sigh.

Choose a Location

Where you want to live could determine who your roommates will be. If your friends want to live on the opposite side of the city, you may not all be able to live together. However, if you can agree on a general area, you’re good to go.

Apartment Hunting with Roomies How to Stay Organized - Choose a Location

Talk about the benefits of different neighborhoods and their sections, then, look for apartments near those locations. For instance, where I live is close to public transportation and nightlife, something me and my roommates all wanted to have.

Knowing the area you want to live will eliminate wasted time spent searching for units outside your target zone. Encourage others to only look at your decided-upon neighborhood as well.

Make a Budget

Whether having a cheap place is at the top of your priority list or the bottom, you and your future roommates should plan a budget. What can you afford on rent each month? On utilities? The number should satisfy all of you.

Apartment Hunting with Roomies How to Stay Organized - Make a Budget

If you and your roomies have drastically different opinions on what’s affordable (one would rather pay thousands a month to have a top-of-the-line place while you’d pay hundreds for a fixer upper), you may not be compatible.

You and your roommates should have similar budgets or be willing to adjust for the betterment of the group. If you can’t, find someone else to live with. Once you have a dedicated budget, you can start searching for a place.

You’ll have rent and amenities (as you discussed in your priorities) to offer search parameters, so use that information to zero in on your new apartment. This will prevent you from wasting time looking at units outside your price range – I certainly don’t have time to gawk at a place that’s $3,000 a month, even if it’s fun to look at.

Write Everything Down

With everything you have to remember about your apartment wants and needs, it’s easy to forget something, especially when you have others involved.

Apartment Hunting with Roomies How to Stay Organized - Write Everything Down

At your meeting, have one of your roomies write down key factors for your next place, including max budget, target neighborhood, apartment and local amenities, and pet preferences. That way, everyone will know what to look for as you start your search.

Make a Schedule

Apartment hunting requires you and your roommates to visit potential units. These tours give you a clear picture of the place where you’ll live and the surrounding area, so attending is vital. In fact, I highly discourage moving in without an initial tour – you could discover that the place is falling apart!

Of course, coordinating everyone’s schedules so you can all attend may be tricky. Have all your roommates list dates and times they are free to view apartments. Make sure people are also willing to move things around in case your schedules don’t all match up. Stick to the agreed-upon schedule when planning showings.

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Apartment Hunting with Roomies- How to Stay Organized

Photo Credit: Colin and Sarah NorthwayRobert S. DonovannetzanetteedibleofficeScott KaintzDaniel Foster

Jen Jackowski

About

Jen Jackowski is a graduate of Illinois State University, where she studied theater and English. Her experiences in the theatrical arts left her with a love for storytelling that she breathes into her writing. She’s also passionate about art, gaming, sustainability and fashion. Her work has been published in the literary magazine, Euphemism.

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