In today’s challenging economy, apartment living continues to rise as increasing numbers of homeowners are losing their homes due to unexpected challenges. But living in an apartment doesn’t have to be frowned upon and can actually be a nice change of pace for former homeowners and nonhomeowners alike. They can have the freedom of leaving behind property taxes, home maintenance projects and landscaping chores.

If you are looking to move into a new apartment and want to ensure that your next home will be an enjoyable and satisfying one, check out the things below to look for when apartment hunting.

Look around the hood. Check out what types of cars are in the parking lot and around the surrounding area. If you see beat-up cars, lots of trash, bars on windows and anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable, move on to a different complex.

Listen closely. When you are in a unit, can you hear other apartment dwellers? Can you hear a cabinet opening or heavy feet walking across if you are a lower unit? Can you hear the plumbing? These types of sounds can become very annoying rather quickly so keep that in mind when considering the complex.

Check to see that all is in working order. Are the appliances in good working order? Do blinds easily go up and down and are all the pieces there? Do the doors open and close easily especially the patio door. Same with windows—do they open and close easily? How do the faucets and shower heads work? Ask how these things are fixed if they happen to break after you move in and have them fixed if they are broken before you move in. And speaking of that, ask what the process is to get things fixed—is there a maintenance man who takes care of these tasks or do you have to go to the landlord?

Create a list of questions important to you. If you have a pet, ask about their pet policy. If you are a regular swimmer, find out if a lot of children use the pool. If you like to eat outdoors in good weather, ask if there is a barbeque and picnic area available to residents. If you like to regularly use a Jacuzzi, ask if they have one and is it in working order most of the time.

Research crime rates in area. Review crime statistics for the area surrounding the unit and find out if there are any registered sex offenders who live in the complex or nearby.

Talk to your potential neighbors. You can get a real ear full and some important clues to whether it is a good place to live by talking to residents living in the complex. Ask them about the parking situation and make sure that is not a problem. Find out if the lifestyle of many of the residents matches up to your lifestyle such as a mostly families vs. singles. But the most important question you can ask is how they like living there. Their reaction can say volumes!

If you follow this simple list of things to check out during your quest for an apartment, you will find the best possible match to your specific needs. Nothing can ruin a happy renting experience more than moving into a location, signing a long-term rental agreement or lease only to discover that certain features about the location or facilities do not meet your needs or stands. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes.