5_Star_Rating_System-20110205103828Apartment hunting is exciting, puzzling, adventurous, and tiring. Whether you’ve never done it before or are a seasoned apartment shopper, it’ll be all those things. You’ll find various online sites that publish apartment ratings by tenants, which to be a good resource. Honest opinions by real people are a big help, but using them requires a bit of judgment. Pick one apartment complex in a major city, for instance, and read a dozen or so reviews. There may be a diversity of opinions that will have you wondering if these people actually live in the same place!

Online shoppers know that product reviews can range all over the map. Simple reasons often lie behind varying reviews — an appliance arrives damaged while another of the same model is fine – but another factor is human nature. Individuals have different personalities, tastes, and needs. An obvious example: a single person or empty nester in a building with lots of children may review it as being uncomfortably noisy, while a parent may praise its child-friendly features.

When you browse ratings, start by being self-aware. What do you need in an apartment in order to be happy there? Make a list. Do you need a quiet environment, physical space, good light, a view? How about security, parking, maintenance? Do you want a building with pleasant grounds, an indoor fitness facility? What about proximity to commuter routes, shopping, entertainment/cultural venues?

You’ll find these and more discussed in the reviews. Stick to ratings that have been published within the last couple of years, and be alert to recurring themes. A five year old complaint about poor maintenance is outweighed by two or three recent ones praising the maintenance services. If the grounds are repeatedly noted for safety and pleasant atmosphere, it’s obviously a genuine plus.

Then there’s the apartment itself. Finding a totally perfect living space is a minor miracle – it happens sometimes, but usually you compromise a bit. However, many not-so-perfect places can be improved by using furniture intelligently, and a reputable local furniture company will prove to be a great resource. You read about a flat in a great part of town, with good light, nice neighbors, dependable on-site management, but it turns out it’s awkwardly laid out. Or you find a high-ceilinged loft that’s affordable and well-located, but has no actual rooms. And it’s up a staircase with difficult turnings.

These problems have furniture solutions. If you’ve already got furnishings or are buying new, you should research furniture service specialists, experts at re-configuring or repairing furniture to fit specific spaces. Your sectional can be altered to fit beautifully into an angle or alcove, or you can have modular room divider/storage units made to create rooms within an undifferentiated space.

And those limited access problems? Even if you’ve fallen in love with an apartment, can you get your furnishings into it? Those same furniture specialists will be experts who know how to disassemble a sofa or other large piece to be easily moved and installed, and then re-assemble it looking as good as new.