What to Look for Before Moving Into an Apartment

After you get your Section 8 housing voucher, it is time to look for an apartment that fits all of your household needs. Before searching for low income apartments, it is important to consider all of the factors that will determine your quality of living. While finding the right place is exciting, it can also be a bit overwhelming. Not only is there the cost of moving, but there is also a long list of issues that can go wrong, like a pipe leak or a broken air conditioning unit. This means having to pay more out of pocket for issues you could have avoided if you had caught them before signing your lease.

If the apartment you purchase is more prone to damages, you may want to consider getting renters insurance. Furthermore, you will want to find Section 8 apartments that are spacious enough for your household size. If you have a job in the city, you will need to consider whether your potential commute would be worth the apartment. Once you determine what you will need from the list below, you will be able to narrow down your options and find the right apartment for you. 


When looking at Section 8 apartments, you want to ensure that any unit you consider is safe for you and your family. Check to see if the apartment has a deadbolt and pin lock in the door handle to prevent a break-in. If possible, research the crime statistics in the neighborhood and ask the landlord whether or not there are any systems in place to discourage criminal activity. This may include security cameras or having lighting in dim areas around the building. 

If the apartment is in an older building, ask about any potential environmental toxins such as lead or mold in the walls. Section 8 landlords have certain responsibilities and must disclose this information to you before you sign your lease. Assess the building for fire exits, smoke detectors, sprinklers and carbon monoxide detectors in case of an emergency. If there is an elevator in the building, find out when the last inspection occurred. Before renting an apartment, consider purchasing renters insurance to receive financial compensation in the event that you must take on a covered expense.

Space and Storage

When visiting Section 8 apartments, make sure to bring a measuring tape with you to measure the room dimensions. If you already own furniture, you will want to make sure that your pieces fit within the apartment’s space. This will also give you an idea on how you can decorate your home. Affordable apartments should also come with enough storage space to store out-of-season clothing and other items, such as a bike or a child’s stroller. The amount of storage you need will depend on how many items you own and the size of your household. 

About Apartment Amenities and Condition

While there are affordable apartments on the market that are in good condition, it is important to evaluate an apartment’s appliances to make sure they are up-to-date and working properly. Essential appliances typically include:

  • Refrigerators.
  • Microwaves.
  • Stovetops.
  • Ovens.
  • Dishwashers.
  • Laundry machines.

Is the stove electric or does it use gas? Are the light switches and fixtures working correctly? Do the walls have stains or watermarks that might be due to a leak? When assessing Section 8 apartment listings, you want to make sure that it meets all housing quality standards. This includes proper interior air quality and water supply. Furthermore, you want to check the condition of the apartment’s electricity, heating and cooling units to make sure they are working and running efficiently to avoid high utility bills. Ask the Section 8 landlord what the utilities bills are usually like to get an idea of how much you will be paying per month. 

Building Amenities

After you have assessed apartment amenities, check to see what kind of shared amenities are offered in the building. If you do not have a washer and dryer in your apartment, check to see if there is a laundry facility located in the building. Ask your Section 8 landlord if the washer and dryer usage is free or if it requires cash or a card to operate. Additionally, you will need to know where to dispose of your trash bags and whether there is a system for recycling.

If you have a car, you will need to know how parking works and the cost of a parking permit. Are there parking passes or visitor spots available for guests? You will also need to know if packages get delivered to your door or if there is a secure location for pick-up. In the event of a leak, you will need to be aware of the process for emergency maintenance requests and whether or not your request will be addressed after hours. If you have a pet, you will need to take a look at the building’s pet policy and consider an apartment that has enough outdoor space. These are all important questions to ask when apartment hunting to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth when renting a low income apartment.

Location and Transportation

When searching through Section 8 apartment listings, pay attention to the surrounding area and what the noise levels may be during early morning and late night hours. Visit the apartments you are interest in at different hours, including during rush hour, to see how congested and loud the areas get. This will also help you determine how difficult your drive home will be after work. Additionally, check the proximity to public transit if you do not have a car. This may include buses, subways and bike routes. If you prefer to live an affordable apartment located in a metropolitan area, check to see what kind of restaurants and shops are available nearby. Are there any local grocery and convenience stores? If so, can you walk to them? Other neighborhood attractions include:

  • Gyms.
  • Coffee shops.
  • Laundry mats.
  • Nightlife.
  • Parks.

Section 8 apartments are located throughout a variety of locations. Choosing an apartment in the right area will depend on your lifestyle and available means of transportation. If you have children, you will probably also want to find an apartment in a good public school district.