Renting your first apartment is an exciting but busy time in your life. Budgeting, property searching, finding roommates, checking your credit score, getting reference letters may seem like a lot to handle, but you can make the process much easier by following these tips for first-time renters.
Don’t Rush It
Does the excitement of finding your first apartment fill you with a sense of urgency? You’re definitely not alone! However, it’s important to realize that this process isn’t always quick. And, that’s not a bad thing. If a move is coming soon, try to plan ahead as much as possible. As with any project, rushing leads to errors, and procrastination can make relocating more stressful. Allow yourself ample time to make the right decisions and execute them properly. Also, before you start searching for apartments, consider your needs, preferences, and budget.
Develop Your Criteria
Here are some helpful pre-search prep tips:
- Make a budget: Realistic financial planning tops the to-do list for a first-time apartment renter. Conduct research to gauge move-in costs, rental insurance expenses, deposits, pet fees, and additional overhead for your new arrangement. Also, consider your future goals. Don’t let your moving expenses get so high you can’t afford important things like travel or going out with friends.
- Consider apartment requirements: What amenities do you prefer? Will your budget allow for solo living, or do you need a roommate? One or two bedrooms? Where is your ideal location? Consider all the criteria that are important to you.
- Think about roommate options: Whether your new roommate is a friend or a significant other, living arrangement communication must be open, honest, and up-front. Agree on expectations, and never assume you know what your potential roommate’s needs and wants are.
Organize Your Info
What documents are helpful when applying for an apartment? This quick checklist can speed up the process and impress your potential landlord:
- Proof of income and identification
- Credit score
- Rental history and references
- Vehicle registration and proof of insurance
Additionally, if your credit isn’t great, consider requesting a rental reference letter from former roommates or colleagues.
Let The Search Begin
Now that you’ve developed your criteria, you’re ready to search for the ideal abode. Keep in mind that most apartment searches happen in the summer. Saving your hunt for fall or winter when demand is lower may offer more attractive rental prices.
Before touring a property, make a list of questions to ask. Here are suggestions to get you started:
- How are rent payments processed?
- What utilities and amenities are included?
- Will rent increase over time?
- Is renters insurance required?
- What are the required move-in costs?
- What are the terms of the lease?
- How does the indoor temperature fluctuate seasonally? Cold in the winter, hot in the summer?
- What parking is available for tenants?
- What is the maintenance policy?
- What are the pet and guest policies?
Moreover, understand the lease completely and ensure all repairs are complete before signing.