Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Searching for Cheap Apartments in Columbus, OH

Apartment hunting in a college town can be a real drag. Demand is high, so places go quick. Figuring out the roommate situation adds stress to your social life. And on top of that, you have your grades to worry about.

It’s easy to just throw up your hands and resign yourself to life in an overpriced, overcrowded hovel with people you dislike — or to just move into the dorms (shudder). But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are the 10 most common mistakes people make when looking for a new apartment. Avoid them, and you’ll be fine.

  1. Not seeing your new place in person

It’s like Tinder: Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but they can also be deceptive.

  1. Not considering the time of year when you go on the hunt

Pro tip: winter = less competition, especially in Ohio. Spring and summer are when everyone else is looking.

  1. Being rigid about location

Sure, Short North is the place to be, but there could be much better deals in a less popular or trendy area. March to the beat of your own drummer. Make your neighborhood cool.

  1. Not being flexible when it comes to roommates

Insider tip: adding a roommate can significantly lower your monthly cost. Your roommate’s dirty socks might not smell good draped over the radiator, but the money you’ll save sure does.

  1. Believing in the model

The model apartment could be a lot nicer than the apartment that’s available, so always, always, always ask to tour the apartment that you’d actually be moving into.

  1. Not trying to negotiate

The worst they can do is say no. Some things to haggle over: lower monthly rent, pet fees (which can be exorbitant), parking fees, utilities.

  1. Not reading reviews before signing on the dotted line

Your apartment could look great, but there are a lot of things you can’t see on a tour. Is there a rodent problem? Does the roof leak? Is management quick to respond to complaints? These issues usually come up in online reviews. Take them with a grain of salt, but do read them.

  1. Not reading your lease

Basic, basic, basic. If you don’t read the fine print, how will you know that you’re not allowed to use a hair dryer? Or babysit your friend’s Rottweiler? Don’t get evicted over something stupid.

  1. Not meeting your neighbors ahead of time

You’re going to be living, eating, and…ahem, sleeping across a wall from these people for the foreseeable future. It’s always good to know if they’re insane or not. Even if they aren’t, why not lay the groundwork for cordial relations early?

  1. Signing a lease just because you get competitive

Tours can be stressful, especially if there are other potential renters on them with you. Sometimes you might feel peer pressure — or panic — when you look at that crowd of eager apartment hunters. But don’t just fill out an application or sign a lease because you want to beat them. It’s not a race — it’s your (future) home.