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Let Location Be Your Guide to the Right Rental

November 25, 2001|H. MAY SPITZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Everyone knows that location, location, location is important in real estate, but what exactly does that mean for apartment hunters?

Location is not just a spot on the map but it's also a place where you need to be. Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.

Figure out what's most important to you. If it's renting the place alone, prioritize. Figure out where you go most often, and what needs to be conveniently nearby. Work? School? Family? Make a list.

Will other folks be renting with you? Sit down and discuss whose needs are most crucial. Perhaps a nearby playground would be fun for the kids, or maybe shopping. Jot down a "to go" list in order of frequency and priority.

Once you've listed your needs, search for an area on a detailed map that matches your requirements.

If someone has to commute, test-drive the path at the hour you normally plan to go--see if it's right for you.

Now for the tough part: How do you move to a new neighborhood and decide if it's right for you?

Go to the closest grocery store and check it out. Does it carry what you need? Chat with other shoppers; they will be your neighbors. Do you feel at home?

Go back at night to the area you've picked. Drive by and note the ambience of the neighborhood. With everyone home, is it noisy or quiet?

Do you enjoy working out? It may be a stretch but find the nearest gym or fitness center. Is it clean, convenient and well-equipped ?

Don't forget to note convenient parking.

Pay attention to the nearest bank location. It's always handy to have a branch close to home.

Got kids? Find a school that meets your requirements.

For leisure time, look for a nearby park for weekend afternoons. Does it meet your needs?

Is there a mall nearby that you would feel comfortable letting a teenager walk to? Any public transportation?

Ask yourself about busy streets. Do you mind the sound of traffic? Will getting in and out of the driveway be a test of nerves?

Do you ever plan to cross the street as a pedestrian? Bear in mind that some rents are lower on busy streets. So if you don't mind the traffic and noise, it may be music to your pocketbook.

Density varies by location, based on zoning of the area. What is your preference?

Some folks like high-density areas (consisting of mainly larger apartment buildings) while others prefer the low-density feeling that houses add to the mix.

If there is assigned parking, exactly how far will you be hauling packages to your front door?

Is there an elevator if you have to take more than one flight before landing at your front door?

If there's a community area or courtyard, is it nearby?

Is the area noisy when you want quiet?

How close is the nearest neighbor to your bedroom? Living room?

There are other location consideration if you work at home.

You may need a bright space with plenty of light.

If you have a space for your work or study, be sure there are enough electrical outlets.

Will the landlord allow the installation of high-speed access for the Internet? Is it available in that area?

Does the place have cable? If you prefer a satellite dish, most landlords should give written permission for installation. Will they allow a dish to serve you?

Where is the laundry located? Does the laundry room have storage space for your detergent and other washing products? Otherwise, you'll end up lugging those things back and forth along with the laundry. And last, is the manager on the premises or off? Can you find him or her and get help when you need it?

Remember, location can work for you and be the key to your rental happiness.

*

H. May Spitz is a Los Angeles-based freelancer writer. Reader comments or questions may be sent to hmayspitz@aol.com.

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