Location. Location. Location. That is the mantra in real estate. And it is probably the first thing you need to consider when apartment hunting.

Chances are you are looking for an apartment near where you work, or near a public transit line that takes you to work or school.

You are probably also looking for an apartment with the right number of bedrooms for your lifestyle; one that has the space you are looking for.

And chances are that you are carefully looking at the price. Most people need to consider foremost how a new apartment will affect their monthly budget.

These are the obvious three considerations. But what else should you look for in an apartment?

Start with the neighborhood. It is worth driving around near buildings you are considering. In the daytime and in the evening. Yes, you should ask yourself how you would feel coming home at night or going for a walk at night in the neighbourhood. Remember that when you live in an apartment, the neighbourhood is your yard. And if you share an apartment, it is the only place you can go when you need privacy. Make sure the neighbourhood feels safe and the building has security measures, like electronic entry and cameras, in place.

And then consider the neighbours. Yes, neighbours will change over time, especially in apartments, but it’s not a good idea to jump into a situation you won’t like from the start. If you notice clutter on the next door balcony that you find distracting, or if there are the sounds of music or shouting or other things you find distracting, these are signs that a particular apartment might not suit you.

Depending on the nature of the annoyance, it might just be a sign that there is someone on the floor that you don’t want as a neighbour. Use common sense and discuss with the building manager or rental agent before signing a lease.

Check the heating. If the corridors are freezing in winter or boiling at any time of year, you might want to go elsewhere. But more important than the corridors are the apartments. Can you control the heat yourself? Does the heating work properly? Can you install an air conditioning window unit? These are questions to ask before making your decision.

Next up: plumbing. Are there issues with the plumbing? Have there been floods? Any sign of water damage?

Remember that the layout of the apartment will be evident at first glance, and you can decorate pretty much as you wish. But there is nothing you can do about heating, plumbing and the water. So check these things out before you apply for the apartment.

Of course, you might have special questions to ask, if you have children or pets, if you absolutely want a building with a pool or an exercise room, or if you want to be able to walk to the grocery store.

Other things to consider include:

How easy is it to get maintenance when needed?

How well are problems resolved by the property management company?

Is the building a member in good standing of the Certified Rental Building Program of Ontario? (CRB)

This place will be your home for at least the next 12 months, so is it what you really want? Take the time to consider all the factors above and you’ll be sure to make the right choice!