Do your homework and make sure that you are comfortable that the owner is not going into forclosure if it is a home or condo. If you have allergies beaware of toxins like mold and pet dander. If you smell something, ask about it. Make sure the owner is using forms that comply with state or local law. Ask them for a copy of the applicable landlord/tenant laws. Ask what happens if you get transferred or lose your job. IN Seattle, landlords are required to work with tenants to mitigate teh damages. That means they have to work with you in good faith to find a new tenant.Be thorough on the move in and out form and take phottos. Be clear about who does yard work, snow removal, etc.
Speak with former tenants and neighbors. Find out the local police precinct and their opinions on the block. talk with people outside of the area and what they feel about the location. Drive by and hang out all hours of the day and then go with your gut. You may be the catalyst needed in the area to change everything. Many people have been in your position before. You may be the next change agent in a really cool area.