What to consider when choosing an apartment
What you need to know:
Do not compromise your standards because you are tired of house hunting. If you get tired rest and resume the hunting when you are ready and do not give up until you find what you are looking for
Encouraged by the abundance of demand, property developers have gone out of the way to make sure there is an apartment that suits every individual taste and income. So it is easy for one to get an apartment that will give you the comfort and security you need without running into debt to pay your rent.
Choosing the location
Jazzel Myrrah Kasozi an entrepreneur who lives in upscale apartment in Lubowa, a Kampala suburb, says the most important factor for her was the location.
“I grew up in a gated, quiet, posh neighbourhood so when I decided to move out, I wanted a similar neighbourhood and chose to narrow down to Lubowa since it is near my parents’ home,” says Kasozi.
While looking for an apartment, she visited 26 different apartments that were not to her liking due to one reason or other.
“I knew I could never get used to living around so much noise,” she says. She also wanted an apartment that would not consume all her income so she ended up with one that takes only five percent which is much lower than the expert recommended 35 percent.
Security and accessibility
Kasozi notes that she chose Lubowa because the security in the area is safe.
“Apart from the police patrolling the area, my apartment too has round-the-clock security surveillance. This makes me feel safe and secure,” she says.
She says her apartment is also easily accessible with a well-maintained access road that leads to an equally good main road.
“Because of the level of security, I confidently drive out of home around 6am for work. And since I leave work early as well, I do not experience jam,” Kasozi says.
Kasozi’s apartment has a self-contained master bedroom, a guest bedroom and an extra bathroom. The rooms are spacious and she has a balcony that gives her a spectacular view of the city. Some landlords are strict about making changes to their properties even simple things such as hanging pictures on the walls.
If you are the kind that prefers to express their creativity in their homes, look for an apartment that will give you the freedom to improve your home. Those most likely to be comfortable with this arrangements are properties still undergoing completion.
But if the property looks like it will need some repairs, ask the landlord about the changes that you can make. For Kasozi, the landlord gave her permission to make some minor alterations such as changing her paint colour and type of lighting.
Proximity to work
Peter Omiat is a resident of Seguku, a Kampala suburb who lives in an apartment with two self-contained bedrooms. He says they chose the apartment because it is close to his wife’s work place.
“It would be absurd for us to live very far from where she works, since my work is mobile,”he says.
This has helped the family to save on transport. Omiat says they spend about 10 percent of their income on rent.
It is easy to lower your expectations when searching for the perfect home, especially after the eighth viewing and finding nothing. The dreams of having a bath, an open plan kitchen and a garden usually morph into any kitchen and a big enough shower out of convenience.
But there are somethings that cannot be overlooked for instance if you own a car, you need car parking. Otherwise you will end up spending more on car parks nearby. Other considerations might be a play area for your children or space for your pets. Before you view a property, figure out what you need and do not compromise on it. Omiat’s need were a secure place with good parking space.
“I know people who have to pay for car parking fees and over time it looks like you are paying rent for your car,” he says.
He advises renters that one’s rent should not go above 30 percent of their salary which he says is still too high.
“It is easy to start with a clear budget when looking for a property, but when finding nothing, increase it, just a little. This forces you to adjust and you end up convincing yourself you can afford somewhere that is out of your range. Simply do the maths on the monthly rent, and include all the other bills that come with living in that area, if it is out of your range keep looking,” he advises.
Kasozi advises those looking for a place to call home not to settle for an apartment they do not like.
“Do not compromise your standards because you are tired of house hunting. If you get tired rest and resume the hunting when you are ready and do not give up until you find what you are looking for,” she says.
Everyone wants a balcony with a gorgeous view and a spacious kitchen, but you are unlikely to find a unit with every single amenity on your list of non-negotiable features. Instead, divide your priorities into “must-have” and “nice-to-have” lists so you can zero in on the properties that include the most important things you are looking for in a new home.
Whether a landlord or property management company takes care of the rental unit, make sure you like and trust the person who is responsible for handling your questions and concerns as a tenant. If your emails and calls go unanswered or the landlord seems rude or dismissive, the situation is unlikely to improve when you live in the apartment.
When viewing a rental unit in person, pay attention to fixtures, appliances, and structure. Does it look like the apartment could use a touch-up? Does it seem dingy or like it has not had a fresh coat of paint in a few years? If so, you should pass up the property to avoid problems that may go unaddressed. If a property manager is showing a unit in poor condition, be wary.
Before Kasozi could make up her mind whether to move into the apartment, she first met some of her neighbours to assess whether they were the kind of people she could live with. “Most of my neighbours, I found out are expatriates which was good for me because it rules out those noisy family get-togethers. Those who have families, their children are old enough not to make noise,” she says.