These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of RentJax.com or any of our advertising partners.
Moving into your first apartment can be daunting unless you know exactly what to look for. There are many apartments in Jacksonville that would draw your attention to them, but how do you know which one is right for you?
Start by creating a list of your needs for a comfortable living space. Some top feature I would recommend keeping an eye out for are:
Security. Is there key-card access? Is there a doorman/lobby? Does each unit door auto-lock? Is the apartment complex gated? Are there secure package drop off locations?
Security is one of the most important things to look for. You'll probably be in-and-out of your apartment complex all the time as a young adult. Definitely look into if there are gated access points and if those gates are being maintained.
Check to see if your unit door automatically locks behind you. This is good to know so you can get used to the idea of always having your keys on you at all times or if you need to stow away a spare in a safe hiding-spot or with a friend.
If you're anything like me you'll almost always be waiting for some kind of delivery - food, clothes, unnecessary things from Amazon - but you can't be home all the time. Lockers have been popping up in many apartment complexes and these are great in that you get notifications when your packages are delivered but you don't have to pick them up right away. Some apartments still use a front office to receive packages but these lockers are better since they don't ‘close for the night' and are securely locked until you input the secret password. No more stolen or soggy packages from being rained on!
Natural Light/Energy Efficient Appliances. How many windows are there? Which way is the unit facing? How much sunlight comes in throughout the day?
Natural light is an excellent way to save money every month. You'll have to make sure you get plenty of good sunlight, throughout the day, in the unit you're looking to move into. If plentiful natural light isn't available in the apartment you are leaning towards, don't worry! Here are an additional 8 Ways To Lower The Electricity Bills In Your First Apartment.
Furnished. Is there an option for move-in ready, furnished apartments?
When your first apartment is temporary or you didn't budget for all the furniture you'd have to purchase, a logical option would be to rent a furnished apartment from one of the many apartments in Jacksonville. You can rent for a year or two to give yourself time to determine if that was a good fit for you, to save up for new furniture, or to learn what type of interior decoration you'd like to invest your money into.
Parking. Does this apartment complex offer parking, onsite or offsite? Is there a secure gate? Is there a garage or covered parking? Are parking spots assigned? Is the parking attached or detached from the building? Does it cost extra per month? Is it lighted?
Assuming you'll be busy exploring, working and running errands regularly, good parking is essential to your safety and comfort. Think about all the late night walks to your front door alone, the heavy bags from the grocery and coming back and forth from short trips. You'll want to note proximity to your front door and security, especially once the sun goes down.
Fitness Center. Is there an onsite fitness center?
Gyms included with the apartment complex amenities are such a blessing! Think about how much money you spend on a monthly gym membership along with gas to travel back-and-forth. Then think about how easy it is to walk downstairs or take the elevator up to the readily available fitness room.
If staying home is not for you or you need a larger-scale workout facility while still on a budget, you can find a list of the Best 30 Cheap Gyms in Jacksonville with Reviews.
Some features or amenities might fall into your ‘nice to have' list more than your essentials' list for daily living and safety. Below are some additional luxuries I look for when searching for a perfect home.
Washer/Dryer. Is there a laundry room in the building? Does each unit come with a washer/dryer? Are the appliances provided or is there just a hook-up option where I need to supply my own?
If you are someone that does laundry regularly, you'd have to ask yourself how much of a hassle it is to transport all your laundry back-and-forth. Of course having a washer/dryer in your unit is convenient, but keep in mind that some places charge more for units with W/D. Electricity and water costs could increase as well.
Also, make sure you know what you're getting, whether the place has appliances already installed or if they are only offering hook-up cables and you have to purchase your own. You can peruse the list of Jacksonville apartments with a washer and dryer before choosing to tour the place.
Elevators. Does the apartment complex have them? Are they functional? Where are they located (near or far from your unit)?
Through the years I've noticed that many Florida apartments don't have elevators unless they are more than four stories. I almost made the mistake of renting an apartment on the third floor with no elevators, but then I remembered that I'm an avid Costco shopper and had ugly visions of hauling my wholesale products up the stairs every time. Maybe I'm lazy or not physically fit enough, but no elevators are a dealbreaker for me; especially during moving time.
Roommate Matching Program. What if i want a roommate but I don't know anyone?
Sometimes budget isn't always on your side or you don't enjoy living alone. Here is a list of apartments that offer roommate matching so you can easily find your next, hopefully, best friend! This could be a great way to rent that sweet corner 2/3-bedroom unit that costs a little more, but actually breaks down to less monthly payments than a 1-bedroom. You'll also get the chance to meet someone new and have a friend to explore the city with.