Touring An Apartment: Things To Look For

By Ashley Paskill on February 18, 2019

Touring an apartment is a crucial step before you make a decision as to where you will live. While you may be able to get a sense of what the apartment looks like online, the photos may not be an accurate representation as they may be staged. Touring the apartment allows you to examine various aspects that you are not able to see online and to get questions answered.

new apartment

Image: Anthony Tran via

The neighborhood

The neighborhood can be a determining factor in deciding whether or not an apartment is right for you. If the area surrounding your apartment is not ideal for your lifestyle, you may decide against moving into that apartment. When you are on your tour, ask the landlord about the neighborhood. You can also reach out to other students who stayed there to help you get a student’s perspective on the area.

The distance from campus is one of the most important factors you will need to consider. If you know parking on campus is difficult or expensive, you will want an apartment that is within reasonable walking distance from campus, or you could ride your bike to campus if your college has bike racks. Also, your city or town may also have public transportation or shuttles that go right to campus, or within walking distance. This is an option if you do not have access to a car and the campus is not within a decent walking distance from your apartment. If the distance is walkable yet the area is not safe, this may limit your evening activities. For students who are active on campus, this may be a major concern. Having campus be within walking distance from your apartment is especially important if you do not have access to a car or public transportation.

Since you will have to go shopping for food, especially if you do not have a meal plan, you will have to go grocery shopping for food to eat. However, if you do not have access to stores nearby, you may opt to choose another apartment. Many student apartments are near grocery stores, and this is something you will find out on your tour. If you do not have access to a car, it may be difficult to carry groceries a long way or have to take them on public transportation. With the creation of grocery delivery services, this may be less of a concern, but if you need something right away, it is nice to have a store nearby so you can make a quick stop.

The noise level can make a huge difference. If you live in a highly noisy neighborhood and you get distracted by noise when studying, you may need to study on campus, but if you prefer to study at home, you may want to consider a different apartment. While you may not be able to tour at night, you should ask other students how loud the area is at night. Sleep is crucial for college students. For those who do not sleep well with any kind of noise, it may be better to find a quieter area. Noise level also applies to the neighbors within the apartment complex, particularly those above you and directly around you. Check to see if the walls are soundproof. If they do not block out loud sounds and you are annoyed, there may be little that can be done. Ask your landlord on the tour if the previous renters ever complained about the noise levels.

For many students, the amount of crime in the area surrounding campus is a huge factor in determining where to live. This is especially true if you will be walking to and from campus, particularly at night. It is also important if you have a car on campus, as you do not want to live in an area where people break into cars or steal tires. Talk to campus security or area police and ask them if the area the apartment is in is considered safe. Talk to other renters to see what it is like and to see if the police or campus security officers are responsive and helpful in case of any issues.

Infographic by Ashley Paskill

Apartment necessities

While some aspects of an apartment are considered luxuries such as TV, there are essentials that you will absolutely need in your apartment. From decent parking if you have a car on campus and Wi-Fi for completing your homework to appliances and furniture, there are things that you will need to see if your landlord will provide or if you have to supply your own.

Parking is crucial if you have your car with you on campus. While on your apartment tour, make sure you ask your landlord about parking. You may have to pay for a spot or have a designated parking pass stating that you are a student. Also, check with your landlord to see if there are designated spots for each apartment or if it is first come, first serve. Ask your landlord to see the parking lot so you can get a sense of the lighting and size. Be sure to ask if there are any specific parking rules that need to be followed.

Appliances are also crucial for student living. On your tour, ask if you can test the appliances to make sure they are in good working order for when you move in. Also, ask if you will need to purchase small appliances such as a coffee maker, toaster, or blender. If you have no need for these and they are not supplied, that is money that you are able to save. Ask your landlord about laundry machines. Sometimes, each unit will have its own washer and dryer, but most times, there is a common room for doing laundry. Have your landlord show you so you can get a feel for how they work and if you will need to find an alternative laundry space such as a nearby laundromat.

Furniture is important, though you may not need anything over the top. If you have a table to eat at, chairs or sofas in the sitting area, beds, and drawers for storing clothes, you are in good shape. You may even want to get a desk so you have a space to do homework and study at. Student apartments may already be furnished, or the furniture that is there for the tour may be there merely for show. It is important that you find out so that you can plan accordingly. Get measurements so you and your roommates can arrange to get furniture that fits the apartment.

Cell phone reception is important for texting loved ones as well as classmates. If you need to coordinate something for a project and you have bad cell reception, things may not get done in time and your grades will suffer. While on your tour, test the cell reception and ask prior and current tenants how good the reception is throughout the day. It may be great while you are taking the tour, but it may be slower or nonexistent at night when everyone is home and using it.

Wi-Fi is important for doing work on your laptop or checking social media and emails on your phone. If the Wi-Fi is unreliable, you may lose work that you spent hours on. Also, you may need to provide your own Wi-Fi router or hotspot. Check with your landlord to see how to get connected and to see how much it will cost. If you need to supply your own router, as your landlord if there are any specifics that need to be followed or a certain supplier that services the apartment.

Size of the apartment

While you may be able to get a sense of the layout of the apartment through the online listing, it can be difficult to really know the sizes of the rooms and storage spaces without seeing them in person. It is important to get a feel for space so you can plan furniture and living arrangements, especially if you have multiple roommates.

Getting a sense of the size of each room is crucial for preparing for what to bring in terms of decorations and furniture. Bedrooms are likely where you will be sleeping. If you have two bedrooms and four people living in the apartment, you will need to figure out a way to fit everyone into bedrooms, including beds and storage for personal items. Also, if you only have one bathroom, you will need to figure out how you will fit linens, medicine, and other toiletries into the bathroom. Ask prior tenants how they managed and ask your landlord for advice.

When touring an apartment, make note of closet and storage space that is available. This will show you what you can fit in the space and whether or not you will need to bring additional storage. Also, you can arrange your closet effectively and keep it organized to maximize your space. Staying organized is the key to make the most of limited space. While you probably will not be able to bring a lot, knowing the size of your closets and storage spaces allows you to know what you will have room for.

new apartment

Image: Yeo Khee via

Extras for the apartment

While it is important to have the essentials for your apartment, you may also want to have some extras for additional comfort. Check with your landlord to ensure that you can have these things and to see if they are provided.

For college students with pets, you will need to find an apartment that is pet-friendly. Students who adore their pets may find it hard to leave them at home during the semester. Check with your landlord’s pet policy to see if your pets are allowed. Some apartments allow for cats and dogs while others only allow small animals such as hamsters. Check with your landlord for specific policies. If you are allowed to have a dog, make sure there is room around your apartment building to play outside or to take your dog for a walk to go to the bathroom.

Blinds and curtains are important for privacy, so make sure you at least have them in your bedroom and bathroom. If you have money left over, add them to other windows so that others do not look into your apartment. If your apartment has them already, you may not have to buy them yourself. Make sure you keep them clean so that dirt and dust do not collect on them.


It is important to look for problems before you settle into a new apartment. There is nothing worse than moving into your new apartment and finding out there are major issues to fix, especially on a busy student schedule. Finding out that there are issues at the apartment ahead of time can save you time and hassle.

Pests such as bedbugs, ants, or termites are annoying and can do damage to your apartment and the contents within. Talk to previous tenants to see if pests have been a problem in the past and if they were, find out how quickly and easily the problem was resolved. If the landlord was responsive and the solution was covered by insurance or by the landlord, you may be okay to move in. However, it is a more ideal situation to move into an apartment that has never had a problem with pests.

Sometimes, doors can be difficult to open, close, lock, and unlock. This can be frustrating. If your doors will not lock properly, someone may be able to break in. Ask your landlord if you can attempt to use the locks and doors while on the tour to get a sense of how easy the doors are to use and to ensure that the locks work properly.

Dirt and mold can wreak havoc on your health. While you will clean dirt as you live in the apartment, there are some dirt stains that are difficult to remove and you should not have to deal with the dirt of a prior tenant. Do not move in if the apartment is dirty at all. Ensure that there is no mold anywhere within the apartment, as this can be difficult and expensive to remove and can negatively impact your health.

Plumbing, like pests, can be expensive to fix. Being without functioning water can make cooking, cleaning, and showering difficult. If you cannot flush the toilets, it can lead to your apartment smelling and the toilet getting backed up. When on your tour, go through and check all of the faucets, showers, and toilets to ensure that you know how to work them and that they work properly.

Touring an apartment is crucial so that you can get a physical feel of the apartment so that you find an apartment that feels like home. There are things to look for so that you can make sure you get the best apartment for you.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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