Finding a new space to call home is an undertaking that can require serious time and energy. But apartment hunting can also be fun and exhilarating! With a bit of planning, you can avoid a headache and find a home you’re ready to commit to—at least until the lease is up.
Scope out the Neighbourhood
Your neighbourhood has an enormous influence on your life, and there are a few very important things to consider when picking your perfect downtown neighbourhood.
Make sure you research what sort of neighbourhood you seek to best fit your lifestyle. For example, if you like being in the center of everything, consider streets in the core of downtown Winnipeg. Streets like Graham, Garry and some areas of Portage Avenue are a five-minute walk from popular bars, restaurants and Bell MTS Place.
If you are looking for somewhere more cosmopolitan, right in the middle of a richly varied area—the Exchange District may be your perfect match! This vibrant neighbourhood boasts many of Winnipeg’s one-of-a-kind boutiques, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Also, it’s near the Centennial Concert Hall and Winnipeg’s own China Town.
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If you’re interested in a more laid-back neighbourhood that’s still close to entertainment, check out West Broadway. It’s known for being an unofficial boundary between the hustle bustle commercial parts of downtown and the residential areas, so you get the best of both worlds. Backing onto the Assiniboine River, it’s a picturesque area with elm tree canopies over streets and beautiful historic buildings.
Do some extra exploring around the area to make sure it has your must-haves for a neighbourhood. Keep an eye out for nearby grocery stores, drugstores, and bus stops.
When walking around the streets outside a potential apartment, do you feel at home? Can you picture yourself showing your friends and family around the streets near the building? That’s a good sign.
Size Does Matter
When looking for somewhere to call home, you might start to feel like Goldilocks trying to find just the right size. Starting your apartment hunt with your basic space needs figured out will make a world of difference. Consider the following for determining the square feet of your future living space.
Do you own a lot of larger-scale furniture that needs to be accommodated—such as a pool table, a piano or a bulky sectional sofa? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want? Are you the type to spend a ton of time in your bedroom, or do you need a spacious living room? Do you love to host parties and need seating for your entourage?
If you’re moving from one place to another, you might want to look for something close to the same size. If you are moving into a larger place remember that you’ll have to shell out money to fill it with furniture—an empty apartment just doesn’t feel homey!
And don’t forget about storage: how much stuff do you need to store? When touring a place or even just looking at a listing on Kijiji, pay attention to the number and size of closets. Look for a bathroom closet, kitchen storage (like cupboards or a pantry) and a coat closet. A lack of storage space can go unnoticed until move-in day when you don’t know where you’re going to store your cleaning supplies or winter coats.
Nancy Drew that Apartment
There’s nothing worse than moving into an apartment and finding unpleasant surprises in the crooks and crannies, so put on that detective hat. When you view a potential apartment, look closely at ceilings, walls and floors for any cracks, stains or other damage. Check the appliances: open the refrigerator and the oven and try out the sink faucets. Look for signs of wear and tear; these may not be necessarily deal-breakers for you, but something to alert the landlord about so you don’t get dinged on your security deposit.
Also, check the cellphone reception in every room! Cellphones are a huge part of our lives so make sure you walk around the apartment checking your service bars or sending a quick text or two.
Scope out the Neighbours
If you pass someone living inside the apartment building you’re touring, say hello! Whether they say hello back, stop to chat or just walk right by will give you an idea of what your potential neighbours are like.
The perfect neighbours only exist in Hallmark movies, but you do want to feel comfortable with the people around you. It depends on the type of person you are but having neighbours that you can at least smile at in the hallways might be important to you.
Identify Must-Have Amenities
These are different for everyone, but here are three that we consider deal-breakers:
A dishwasher: You can theoretically live without a dishwasher—but for the sake of your sanity and the environment, look for an apartment with one.
An elevator: Stairs may help you with your step counter on your FitBit, but on move-in day, when you’re trying to move your couch up three flights of stairs, you’ll be kicking yourself for renting the place!
Laundry facilities: Take it from someone who is a serial renter: an on-site laundry room is the holy grail of apartment living. Having to lug all your dirty clothes back and forth from a laundromat is a pain. Do yourself a favour and put a laundry room on your list of non-negotiables.
Trust Your Instincts
We don’t call the places where we live home without a reason. If the price is right but something just feels wrong—even if you can’t pinpoint what—trust that feeling and keep searching. The right apartment should be your home base, your personal launchpad for taking on the day and where you can cozy up to recharge.
Have some pro tips for scoring the perfect apartment? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!