Life Hacks

Frank Lillig

Living on your own for the first time can be extremely stressful.  Trying to find a place to live that is within your means and not totally broken down can really add to your stress levels.  It can really suck when you find a place you like, move in and then find out it is a rat hole with chipping lead paint, paper-thin walls, drafty windows or bad appliances.  However, knowing what to look for in an apartment or house may not lessen the stress involved, but it will surely help when you find the right place and start living there.  Here are a few things to remember when looking for the right place to live.

  • There are several websites, newspapers, classifieds or magazines to help you find places.  Make a list of houses or apartments you like and want to view.
  • One useful tool is the online crime map “Spotcrime.com.”  This tool allows you to scour the neighborhood or zip code you want to live in for recent crime activity.  It’s a good way to judge if the area is safe.
  • Check and see if the windows are double-pane or single.  If they are double, rest assured knowing that most of your heat or air conditioning will not be going out the windows.  If they are single, be prepared to insulate them for the cold winters and to seal in the AC for the brutal summers.
  • Thin walls or ceilings in large apartment complexes can be a serious problem.  Try to guage the noise level while checking the place out and be willing to deal with it, or move on to the next place.
  • The kitchen is one of the places you need to check out thoroughly.  Make sure you are good with everything before you move in and realize you cannot open the fridge because the counter is too close or that the cabinets are falling out of the ceiling.  Check cabinets for signs of infestation, rot or mold.  Check sinks for disposals.  Check floors for levelness.  Check the fridge.  Check everything.  And if something doesn’t look right, ask the realtor or landlordabout it.  Dead rats in the cabinets are not what you are paying for.
  • Bathrooms are another place that needs to be savagely inspected and judged.  Ask the realtor or landlord if there have been many problems reported about the bathroom.
  • Some places will pay some of your utilities, but most will not.  Ask the realtor or landlord about how much can be expected when paying utilities.
  • Make sure the foundation is in good condition and not cracking or sliding.

It is federal law for landlords to tell a new tenant about lead paint, mold and bedbugs.  In many states there are laws that require a landlord to tell new tenants about certain other things that have happened in the house/apartment, such as deaths.  However, Missouri is not one of those states, so be careful about what a landlord or realtor is, or is not, telling you about the places you’re viewing.