Beginner’s Guide to Apartment Hunting in Gainesville

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Signing your first lease or moving to a new place can be intimidating and stressful. However, there are several ways in which you can prepare to make this new chapter in life more exciting and less daunting. Gainesville is home to a diverse community of students, families, entrepreneurs, art connoisseurs and athletes, so no matter the reason for relocating you’re guaranteed to find a place that’s perfect for you.

Evaluating Your Apartment Needs

Before getting started, it’s important to identify your priorities and lifestyle needs. Evaluating things like budget, location and lease length will form the basis for your search. So, take a seat and let’s get the hard stuff knocked out. Break down your monthly or weekly expenses and draft an affordable budget for rent and utilities. Keep in mind that you don’t want to strap yourself down too tight; it’s best to maintain a little financial flexibility for the really important stuff – Gator games, shows at the Hippodrome and nights out on the town with friends.

Before you start the apartment search, write out all of your expenses and develop a monthly budget. This will help you determine what type of apartment is best for you, financially and otherwise.

The Where

With that out of the way, it’s time to focus on the where. Gainesville can be broken down geographically into a handful of neighborhoods: Archer Road, Downtown, Midtown, Northwest Gainesville, Sorority Row and South, Tioga and Haile, and West Gainesville. If you’re looking to live close to the University of Florida, apartments in the Midtown and Downtown neighborhoods are within close walking distance. Similarly, students who attend Santa Fe College may find Northwest Gainesville to be more convenient as it’s home to the school’s main campus. If you’re interested in a more fast-paced location near all the major chain stores and restaurants, then Archer Road may be the spot for you. Families or faculty hoping to escape the hustle and bustle may find West Gainesville to feel most like home.

It’s equally important to determine what type of lease agreement will best fit your needs. Most apartment communities offer a yearly lease, however, some offer more flexible arrangements such as a 6 or 8-month lease. If you’re uncertain about your future plans, you may want to inquire about a shorter lease or the option to sublease.

Give Me the Amenities

After nailing down the major needs, it’s time to start thinking about the things that will make life easier and more enjoyable for you. If you’re an animal lover, check for apartments that are pet-friendly and have amenities catered to you and your furry companions like a dog park. For those looking to cut down on costs by finding a roommate, consider size, layout and apartment type (by the bed vs. by the apartment) when looking for the right space. If an all-inclusive rental is more appealing, check for communities that include utilities such as water, electric, Internet, cable, trash and pest control in your rent. Students starting out on their own may benefit from an already furnished apartment, and luckily many Gainesville communities offer furniture packages. Amenities like a fitness center, pool or laundry facility may also come in handy. No matter which neighborhood you choose, you’ll want to check on parking arrangements (free or city) and bus routes in the area.

When to Start the Hunt

There is no shortage of apartment communities and rentals in Gainesville, so there’s no need to rush before having weighed all of your options. If you’re a student, it is recommended that you begin looking for your new digs 2 to 3 months prior to the start of the semester. During this time apartment communities often offer move-in specials that could result in reduced rent or deposit fees. Additionally, if there’s a location you had your heart set on this will ensure you get your foot in the door before it fills up. If you’re a little late to the game, don’t panic! There are plenty of apartments in the area that have openings consistently throughout the year as students come and go. Do keep in mind that apartment communities operating on a specific lease term may have strict move-in and move-out dates, especially to prepare for students coming back to Gainesville after the summer break.

Overall, make sure that the community you choose is somewhere you see yourself being happy. Do your research, talk to the locals and weigh all of your options. Most of all have fun and enjoy the exciting adventure that awaits you. Welcome home!

This is a guest blog post from Dakota Sproule, a Local Expert for Swamp Rentals – a Gainesville apartment guide that matches renters with the apartment that meets their lifestyle and budget.

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