Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Scroll to top

Top

USA

Apartment living in South East USA

Apartment living in South East USA

Here in the South East we are blessed with hot steamy summers and mild winters, which could account for the mass exodus of Americans living in the north who are now making the move south. The latest census shows the population growth in the south fast outpacing that in the north. Consequently the need for housing in the south is growing and apartment complexes seem to sprout up in the middle of the night.

Here in the South East we are blessed with hot steamy summers and mild winters, which could account for the mass exodus of Americans living in the north who are now making the move south. The latest census shows the population growth in the south fast outpacing that in the north. Consequently the need for housing in the south is growing and apartment complexes seem to sprout up in the middle of the night.

For those of you totally new to the idea of "Apartment Living" I hope that the following will give you a glimpse into searching for and finding your ideal apartment. Don’t forget that this country is large and diverse and that many things are radically different form state to state so my experience is limited to the south east.

First you need to make a list of your priorities. Do you have children and need to find out about schools? Do you want to live close to work or out in the suburbs? Do you prefer newer or older buildings? Is a gated community more your scene or do you like to live in the center of everything? Will they accept pets? All are important factors in your decision, and once you’ve decided on the type of apartment you want then the search can begin.

The hunt begins

There are literally thousands of apartment complexes to suit all budgets and tastes. They all have varied amenities to tempt prospective tenants; swimming pools and fitness centers are usually the standard. The obvious place to start looking would be the internet, where you can find an apartment to rent through various web sites that enable you to pick amenities, price and location. However, the search doesn’t need to stop there. Local newspapers are full of apartments to rent either by companies or private owners. Another great way of comparing are the free "Apartment Rental" brochures that you can pick up at most grocery stores or petrol stations which contain details of hundreds of different apartments.

A few great starting points can be found at:
RentNet
Apartments.com
Apartment Guide

You’ve read, researched, read some more and have now narrowed down your search. The next step is to visit the complexes you have earmarked and check out the area and apartments. Check the apartment you are interested in has washer/dryer connections, some of the older places don’t and you will end up having to drag all your washing to the on-site laundry centre or if your really unlucky, to the laundromat on the other side of town. Remember the staff or owner want you to rent from them and will be more than happy to show you around and answer any questions you may have. Always ask about any specials they are currently running and even if they don’t have any going at the time, try and haggle for a deal.

Give us your money

I haven’t come across an apartment complex yet that deducts the rent from your bank account, i.e. Direct Debit. The norm seems to be paying by cheque (or should I say check!). However, change is afoot and many of the larger complexes (and larger cities) are slowly catching up to the ecommerce world and are requesting electronic debits from your checking or savings bank account each month. Rent payments are normally due on the 1st day of each month, with a grace period of up to the 5th day. After the 5th day they will charge a late fee from anywhere between 5% – 10% of the monthly rent.

{mosbanner right}Deposits will depend on the state and area in which you live. You may also need to factor in your lack of credit history if you have recently moved into the country. Deposits range from one to two months rent and the normal "Wear and Tear" deposit of between $200 – $300. Generally if you have looked after the apartment and have not contributed to any major damages you should get the majority, if not all, the deposit back when you move out. If you have a cat or dog you will probably end up paying a non-refundable amount of anything from $200 upwards. It’s something to keep in mind if you are working within a strict budget.

Leases

The longer the lease the better deal you will get. Leases are generally 6 months, 12/13 months or 24 months. Check with the agency before renting to see what their rules are on terminating contracts early, you don’t want to get stung by a surprise early termination charge. Some will not expect payment for early termination if you give them 30 days notice and your company is moving you. Others will charge you an extra fee of 1x your monthly rent or, if you are really unlucky, 2x your monthly rent. A six month lease would be a good idea if you were planning to buy a home. This gives you enough time to investigate the housing market and area, but if you feel you need more time you can still renew or extend your contract.

What’s in it for us?

Dishwashers, waste disposal, ovens, fridge/freezers and air conditioners are generally standard in apartments. Some have microwaves or alarm systems and are already set up for high speed internet access. You may also find the newer complexes have a small on-site business center with access to a computer, printer and fax.
Above all once you’ve moved in relax…… you have no worries about repairing blocked drains or broken doorknobs, the onsite maintenance staff will take care of everything for you. Your only concern will be which book to take with you to the pool!

©britishexpats.com