on Aug 31, 2019 11:30:00 AM

How Do I Know Which Apartment Community is Right For Me?

Whether you're looking for your first apartment or are just ready for a change, it’s important to be aware of the things that make a living situation a good fit for you. When it’s time to find a new apartment, think about these aspects of the communities you’re considering before signing the lease.


Where do you feel at home? Do you like being surrounded by the excitement and activity of downtown Des Moines, the tranquility of a small town like Carlisle, or the combination of privacy and convenience that suburbs like West Des Moines and Johnston offer? 

What about your commute? Think about how you will be getting to and from work, school, or anywhere else you go on a regular basis. Remember that a commute generally adds time to your work day, and you should take that extra time commitment into account when you’re looking at the pros and cons of each apartment community. On the other hand, realize that locations that allow you to walk or bike rather than drive or take public transit can transform your commute into a dedicated time each day for exercise and solitary contemplation while saving you money on the costs of car ownership or public transit.


Think carefully about what rent you can afford. If this will be your first apartment (or if you don’t yet have a good grasp of budgeting), then it’s helpful to have some general guidelines for establishing your rent budget. One popular recommendation is to allocate no more than one-third of your take-home pay to rent. However, this method fails to take into consideration other costs that you pay each month, which can vary pretty widely from one person to the next. For a more accurate picture, make a list of your monthly fixed costs, such as insurance payments, cable, satellite, internet, cell phone, student loan payments, car payments, gym membership, and other predictable costs. Add them up, and subtract the total from 50% of your monthly income. What’s left is a good target budget for rent. 

When considering your budget, don’t neglect features of particular apartment communities that can reduce or eliminate costs that you’re currently paying. For example, an on-site fitness center may make your gym membership unnecessary, and a location that gives you convenient, car-free access to the places you want to go could relieve you of the substantial expenses associated with car ownership. Because your fixed costs can vary with the community you choose, taking these variables into account when determining your budget will give you the best idea of what is affordable.


How much space you need depends on how you intend to use your apartment. Will you live alone, with a significant other, or with one or more roommates? How much time will you spend in the apartment? If you’re a single person who is always on the go and rarely at home, then you probably don’t need as much space as someone who works from home, lives with other people, or does a lot of entertaining at home. Your possessions will also demand a certain amount of space, so think carefully about what needs to be in your apartment, and consider how much extra rent you’re committing to pay to make room for things.

The features of each apartment community can also affect how much space you need in your individual apartment. Many micro apartment communities, for example, are integrating more community amenities to make it easy for residents to live comfortably in smaller apartments. Features like outdoor green spaces, a well-equipped community room, game room, business center, cinema, and fitness center give you the space you need to entertain, exercise, work, and play without leaving home or crowding your apartment.


For many renters, this criterion is at the top of the list and can be an immediate deal breaker. Fortunately, it is becoming easier than ever to find apartment communities that welcome your furry friends. If you live with a pet, make sure there is enough indoor space for your companion to be comfortable, and if your pet is a dog, scope out the area so you know where you’ll be taking them on walks. Some modern apartment communities feature on-site dog parks, and others are located near nature trails. If appropriate places to take a dog aren’t sufficiently convenient, you may quickly find yourself regretting your choice.

Are you ready to start looking for your next apartment in the Des Moines metro? Click here to browse all of Hubbell Apartment Living’s communities!