How to find out if a aprtment complex sucks/is good? Whats your strategy?

posted 2 years ago in Home
Post # 2
42182 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Earlybride:  Don’t just visit during the day when people are at work, kids are at school or daycare etc. Stop by in the evening and weekends to see what it’s really like living there.

Post # 3
2250 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012 - Southern California

I wouldn’t knock on people’s doors per se haha, but definitely show up during all times of the day & if you see a neighbor out, ask of they like it & things like that.  We love our apartment, but for some reason they only get like a 3 star & I would totally rate it a 4, if not 5!  Some people are just never happy, I guess 😉

Post # 4
107 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

I would ask what the percentage of tenants living on section 8 housing in the apartment complex are.  We ran into a situation a few years back, where the complex was around 75% section 8 – and we were one of the few families paying the entire rent sticker price (and than some because we signed a short term lease).   I also like to look for complexes with “older” looking people (read out of college) – there was this awesome apartment complex right near my university, and although the apartments were great – it was a complete mess on weekends because of all the college kids living there and partying.   

ETA:  Nothing wrong with college kids partying – I loved that visiting my friends at that complex, but really don’t want to put up with throw up in the hallways at this point in my life.  

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  WeddingBecks.
Post # 5
8513 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

It depends on what you’re looking for I guess but in my experience you tend to get what you pay for (so the cheaper places tend to be crappier or have less sound proofing, older appliances, etc) and the ones you pay more for tend to be nicer and quicker to fix problems.

I would look at the people who live there.  Are they college age (or is it right by a university)?  Older?  Families?   Again, depends on what you’re looking for.  If you’re in college you might love living right by the university and all that goes with it (loud neighbors, noise at night, etc).  If you don’t want that I would look for a place with older, more professional renters or families that isn’t near a college/university.

I think as long as every review isn’t terrible you’d be okay to try it out.  People who review stuff online tend to have issues and they want to review it to make it known to everyone, so that’s something also to think about.  People who aren’t having problems tend to not think about reviewing something.

I just looked at my last one and it had 3.3 out of 5, but I’ve never had any issues and they’re always very quick to fix things so I would have given at least a 4.

Post # 6
720 posts
Busy bee

Earlybride:  Look at the types of cars in the parking lot. The apartment complex itself most likely will not tell you exact information on the demographics (like average age, young families, college kids etc.). They also will likely not tell you info on Section 8. Things you can look for: 

well-maintained or more expensive vehicles parked there

what type of events/activites the complex advertises for – summer pool parties (college kids) or kids’ movies nights (this will give you an idea of the residents’ ages) or bingo (ahem.)

call the police department and ask for the crime reports for the complexes you are considering – that is public info

Get an upstairs unit so you never have to hear noisy neighbors (lots of neighbors will come and go during your 5 years) and you are more protected from theft, bugs, and sewage backups (fluids drain down…ew.)

Other than that, it’s just are the price and location right and do you like the unit? 

Good luck!


Post # 7
107 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

leprechaura:  I believe in the states I’ve lived in, the apartment complex MUST disclose section 8 if you ask, rental status is not private.  

Post # 8
720 posts
Busy bee

WeddingBecks:  oh really? I’m surprised but I guess it would vary based on who you talk to. Every place I have rented (in Florida) has refused to answer those types of questions. Granted I didn’t push very hard after they said they couldn’t give out that information, so maybe they were supposed to and just tried to dissuade potential renters from asking.

Post # 9
1067 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Earlybride:  +1 for visiting the complex during the evenings and weekends, and comparing their prices to the overall area.

It was pretty obvious for us when FI and I briefly looked at apartments.  If the rent was cheaper, the area wasn’t as nice and/or the complex was a lot older where the overall conditions weren’t maintained as nicely as the more expensive ones.  There was one complex that was mid-range in price, complex age, and appearance, but we noticed was that there were a lot of hung over college aged people lounging at the pool on a Sunday which meant a lot of noise and parties going on to us.

I also agree that reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt.  Like this one star review about the complex you’re looking into:


*rolls eyes*  If having it peaceful and quiet were that important to me, I wouldn’t have picked the place that’s next door to a bar.

Post # 10
3360 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

I feel like definitely look at the reviews, but like others have said, take them with a grain of salt.  I went through the apartment search a few months ago, and it was so discouraging sometimes reading all the negative reviews out there.  Do consider the amount of negative reviews, but don’t discount a place because of a couple complainers – there were a few very negative reviews for our current apartment, but we LOVE it, it’s fantastic; I have no idea what these people were talking about.

As far as checking places out, you’ve already gotten some good advice.  I would add to push to view the actual unit you will be renting.  My husband and I got burned with that last time we moved – the complex only showed us their model unit and said the only differences in our unit would be “the countertop and cabinet finishes” because our unit wasn’t “upgraded.”  It was a total dump.  We learned two lessons with that place – always insist upon seeing the actual unit, and you get what you pay for (a “great deal” usually is cheap for a reason).

Post # 11
4674 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Earlybride:  hey fellow Wisco bee! 

I don’t know if I would knock on doors, but check the overall maintanace of the building, check what kind of cars people drive, ect.  

I have had much better experiences with smaller apartment complexes than with larger ones, but this is a preference thing.  You know your neighbors better, you usually have only one to two shared walls at most.  

I’d also check out the neighborhood.  A place near more single family housing will tend to be quiter than a building that is in the middle of a huge complex.  Also, what do the yards look like in the neighborhood.  Fences and very empty yards show that the residences have a lack of trust in their neighbors.  

I’ve almost always lived in upstairs units.  They were quieter and safer.  

You can look up the crime in a particular neighboorhood online.  I’m not sure the website, but you can find it easily with google.  

And keep in mind, renting is always a gamble.  You have no control over your neighboors, you could potentially end up with a crappy management co, ect. 

I’ve never had experience with this building, or have ever lived in Greenfield. I googled it though and it looks like it is in a really busy area.  This is a big red flag for me.   I currently own a home in West Allis, and between my DH and I have rented in Tosa, Bayview, Oak Creek and near UWM. I’m not sure what help I can be, but if you have any questions just ask.    

Post # 12
2052 posts
Buzzing bee

I remember reading something like people are 9 times more likely to write a review of a place when they’re upset than they are when they’re happy. So definitely read the reviews, take note if a particular complaint comes up more than once or twice, but know that there could have been hundreds of tenants who were happy or okay with their experience that didn’t write reviews.

If you can, try and find places that are locally owned or places where management live on site. Some of the worst places I’ve lived at were places run by management companies who were only there 8-4 Monday thru Friday. Also try driving around and checking out places in areas you want to live that may not advertise online or in rental magazines. They will usually have great rates and not as much of a revolving door of tenants.

You can also check with the local PD and ask if they’ve had any calls or incidents there. They will usually have no issues telling you if a place is a haven for criminals or get a lot of noise complaints

Post # 13
1826 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

One of my tests would be to drive by the place in the morning of a work day, around 10 am or so. If there are a TON of cars still parked there, I wouldn’t recommend living there. It’s anecdotal, but I’ve found that complexes where a lot of the people are actually employed are usually a bit nicer, versus the ones where there are people hanging out on porches all day, every day, etc.

Post # 14
1259 posts
Bumble bee

I’ve moved a bunch of times, so I feel like I have some experience in this, haha. I just googled the one you are looking at. I’m so shocked by the rental market in different locations. It’s all very relative but it’s just interesting to me to see how some places are much more expensive or cheaper for the very same thing somewhere else. 

1) How friendly/communicative/quick to answer questions is the management company and/or superintendent? 

The super is the guy/girl you’re going to be dealing with if you have any repairs/general questions so make sure you meet them as well before you sign anything. 

2) Visit the area at night, even if it’s just a drive by the neighbourhood as well as in the day time. If you go by in the daytime, take a look at other buildings in the area that may not advertise online or in the newspaper, take down addresses and numbers and call them up to inquire. 

3) Look at a minimum of 3-5 units before you choose. If you just look at 2 you’ll like one over the other. But if you look at 15 you’ll start to get REALLY picky, lol, and they all start melting together. 

4) When you view them (don’t pass up viewing them just because of 1 not so stellar review) try to take photos of the unit so you have something to refer to when comparing them later on.

For example, in unit #1 it had really lovely trim around all the doors and windows and a gorgeous view from the balcony. Whereas unit #4 had shorter ceilings in the bedroom or little to no counterspace in the kitchen, etc. 

5) If you see someone walking into the building or a neighbour, stop and mention you’re looking at the place see if they can tell you any good or bad points about it. 

6) If pests/bedbugs/general grossness are a concern in a big city situation, there are quite a few websites that might be helpful and relevant. I have lived in and around Toronto for many years now and I viewed some TERRIBLE apartments when I wasn’t able to afford something as nice as I have now. 

Post # 15
5818 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

Earlybride:  Also look into renting a condo. We found in our area that apartments had huge fees (pay extra non-refundable deposit (which is a fee…grrrr) plus a monthly fee for pets and extra for parking space), but renting condos didn’t. I’ve used a Realtor (which is free to you, the owner pays their fee) or sometimes you can find listing on Redfin, Zillow, or the one I liked best in my area is Military By Owner.

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