What to know when in search for a perfect dwelling

10/05/2016 10:22 am ET Updated Oct 05, 2016
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Even though a major change in living condition scores 25/100 on a Holmes-Rahe stress scale, it usually comes along with some other social readjustment, which doubles the points of the situation’s overall mean value. Having no previous experience with this type of change makes the whole thing even more stressful.

It could be you just moved to another city, or have decided to finally move out of your parent's place, or maybe you filed for a divorce and need to move out of the apartment... Whatever the reason, you are now facing an important task of finding a new place to live. And not just any place, you want the best one in your price range.

There are several factors to consider when in search for a new home. Two most important ones, as you already know, are your budget and your functional preferences.

Say, you already know how much money you're willing to spend on a rent (or to buy the place for that matter) and you have the idea which part of the city you want to live in, as well as how many bedrooms you wish to have. You go through the listings and make a note of those you find interesting. You call and make the arrangements to check them out. Once you get there, you might want to have in mind these important factors before making a decision and closing the deal.

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LOCATION

Find the address on a map and see its position relative to the places important to your life in the city.

If you use public transportation, see how far away is the station from your potential new address and is it well connected to the other parts of the city, especially your workplace or your university. If you drive a car, arrive at the address 15-20 minutes earlier to see if finding a parking space is a piece of cake or a torment.

Go around the block and check out the neighborhood. Smell it, explore its corners.

What else is there? Will local shops and services provide you with the things you need every (other) day? Does the string of perky cafés in your street bother or excite you? Is there a park close enough for you to take your dog out, or your children if you have them?

Come back in the evening and take one more round. Do you feel safe in this neighborhood?

Make a list of priorities and criteria about the surrounding you want to live in. Smartly selected location will save your time and nerves and will pay itself, in the long run, so keep that in mind if you'd rather go for something cheaper.

STRUCTURE

The quality of the structure is definitely something you should care about in this quest.

Living in an old building makes a romantic image, but when it comes to the practical side you should be aware of possible inconveniences. Some buildings are surely built to last, but many old residential structures need constant care and investment.

Even if you're not planning to buy the flat (in which case your landlord will be paying for the repairs), you are going to be the one who gets to deal with the problems until they get fixed.

It may be that the elevator breaks often, or the installations are worn out, the windows are not well sealed or the isolation is bad. Ask the landlord or the current owner about all those things and check them out for yourself. Ask your first neighbors also about the overall condition of the building and how satisfied they are with it.

You may love the neighborhood, but unless you are planning to stay there for only a couple months, consider the possible troubles that might arise and force you to search for a new place, again.

ORIENTATION

Very important. Unless you are a vampire, you want to have enough daylight in your flat.

Many studies have shown the psychological and physiological benefits of naturally well-lit dwelling and/or working space such as improved mood and productivity, enhanced morale, lower fatigue, reduced eyestrain, balanced circadian cycle and overall improved health and well-being.

Natural lighting also reduces the number of harmful bacteria and organisms providing a healthy living environment. There are ecological and economic benefits too, as a good daylighting reduces energy demand and your energy bill as well.

So, when checking out your potential new home, take notice of the amount of daylight it absorbs in every room.

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Turn on that compass app on your smartphone to find out the aspect of the windows. According to the local climate, see if the orientation of the openings provides enough passive solar heating and passive cooling as well.

In the northern hemisphere, south and southeast orientations are generally desirable in colder climates. They get the most direct sunlight during the day, especially in winter when the sun is at its lowest. However, in warm climates with really hot summers, southern orientation might mean having your cooling system turned on all the time.

On the opposite side, northern orientation won't get you much sunlight at all, while the variations in aspects towards east and west can have advantages depending on a climate. Eastern sunlight warms the dwelling in the morning and western in the afternoon, so it depends on your personal preferences and daily dynamic which one suits you best.

My personal pick is the eastern or easternish aspect that provides me with some lovely morning sunbathing sessions while keeping the room well-lit throughout the day.

FUNCTIONALITY

It does make a difference if you are searching for a completely furnished place or the one with only basic kitchen and bathroom appliances. In both cases, your functional and aesthetic preferences are going to determine whether you like the place and what's in it.

Now, think about the possibilities of different functional dispositions of the furniture. Being able to move them around the flat, say, every six months or so (as I do), will give you the possibility of occasional refreshment of the atmosphere in your home.

Have in mind, also, the fact that the empty space appears smaller than the furnished one. If you have a hard time imagining, take the measures and make a sketch to see if the pieces of furniture you already own can fit and in what way. In these situations, it comes handy to have an architect for a friend whom you can consult, but if that is not your case, there are plenty of freelancers online waiting for such a task.

THE FEEL

The last, but by no means least, this factor may be the most important one to consider when choosing a new home.

Give yourself the time to really feel the place. Feel it’s energy. How does it vibrate? Does it make you calm and relaxed or is there something disturbing about it?

Ask about the previous owners or tenants. Where are they now?

Can you imagine yourself spending time in every room of that apartment? What appeals to you or what turns you off?

You should feel good about the place you choose for your home. There may be nothing visibly wrong with it and all other factors may be checked and criteria met, but if you don’t feel good there, continue your search until you find a place that feels better.

Even if there is nothing you can put your finger on but just a clear feeling, trust it. You will know if that is the place for you or not.

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