Find the best apartment with the “Grocery Test”

Published on December 20, 2018

When apartment hunting, the endless list of options alone can be overwhelming. Then comes the hard part: finding an apartment that meets all of your needs. You know – an apartment that “checks off all the boxes” on your needs list.

To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things to look for when trying to find the perfect apartment.

1. Parking availability

If you’ve ever lived somewhere that parking is scarce, you know how frustrating it can be to hunt down parking after a long day of work or school. During your next apartment hunt, don’t forget to keep this in mind. Rentals may offer open parking, a paid-upgrade reserved spot or perhaps no official parking at all!

2. Are you happy with the appliances – if there are any at


Some apartments come with appliances included but you can’t assume that they all do. Before deciding on your next place, confirm the agreement regarding the appliances. You also should make sure that the appliances meet your expectations in terms of size, features and finish.

3. How do the heating and cooling systems hold up?

Many parts of the U.S. get bitterly cold in the winter and others can be swelteringly hot during

the summer. Even though you might not be apartment hunting during one of the “extreme” weather months, you need to think about the weather ahead. Are the climate control systems up to par for your area? Also, consider the condition and age of the units. Some climate control systems will be more conducive to saving on monthly utility costs.

4. Think about your four-legged friends

Many pet owners consider their pets to be a part of the family. If that’s you, take this into account when trying to find the perfect apartment. Does the rental allow pets? Many apartments do, but some may ask you to pay either a one-time additional fee or a small monthly fee.

5. Apply “the grocery test”

A good way to think about the feasibility of an apartment is to apply “the grocery test.”

Apartment hunting can be like the dairy aisle. Not ideal for the lactose intolerant.

Imagine that you had several bags of groceries filling both of your hands. How would you get to your apartment? Is the unit on the ground floor or higher up? Is there an elevator or is it a walk-up apartment? If you imagine yourself dreading the chore of taking groceries inside, you probably would not be happy with that unit.

6. Research school districts

If you have children that are in school, or will start school soon, you should think about the distribution of various schools in your city. Using an online tool like GreatSchools, search the addresses of any potential renters to see reviews and ratings of the area schools before signing a lease.

7. Are you ready to be a regular at the laundromat?

Very few people enjoy doing laundry, but there are ways you can make laundry easier for yourself. Some apartments include in-unit laundry, some offer a shared laundry room and some have no laundry at all. Consider the laundry amenities at each potential unit.

8. Look down!

One apartment feature you might overlook when trying to find the perfect apartment is right under your nose! Well, right under your feet, technically. Many renters try to avoid carpets altogether and some others prefer carpet in certain rooms of the house. Don’t forget to take types of flooring into account during your apartment hunt.

9. Are there any amenities you can’t live without?

The first step to securing your dream rental is to fall in love with the unit itself. The second step is to fall in love with the amenities and offerings of the complex or building the apartment is in. Some common amenities offered by apartments are pools, internet and printing services, on-site maintenance or security services. Make sure you don’t overlook your amenity needs.

10. Location, location, location

The saying is a bit cliche, but the point stands true. Location is so important when trying to find the perfect apartment. Whether you need to be close to family, school or work, think about your daily commute. Additionally, take steps to make sure you’re renting in a safe neighborhood.

Apartment hunting is admittedly difficult at times. But, by following our guide for finding the perfect apartment and with a bit of perseverance, you’ll find your dream apartment in no time.

Timothy Harris brings a professional background in event marketing, residential real estate and journalism to the table to provide useful and relevant content for the modern renter. Timothy has previously written content for Apartment Guide,, Karsten & Associates in New Mexico and Up ’til Dawn, a philanthropic fundraiser that benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.



Timothy Harris is a Contributor at GritDailly. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Harris brings his experience in event marketing, residential real estate, and journalism to the table to provide useful and relevant content for the modern renter. Timothy has previously written content for Karsten & Associates in New Mexico and Up 'til Dawn, a philanthropic fundraiser that benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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