Renting an Apartment for The First Time: What to Know
Moving into your first apartment is a major rite of passage for any first-time renters. From college students to young couples, the first apartment is a considerable milestone and an exciting experience! Before you start apartment shopping however, it is important and beneficial to learn about what actually goes into renting your first apartment.
1. Evaluate Your Budget
When searching for an apartment, there are a few considerations that you’ll need to get in order prior to the big move. For starters, costs will play a crucial role in the apartment that you choose, as well as your overall monthly budget. You’ll first need to determine your budget in relation to how much you’re willing to spend on rent, food, utilities, insurance, etc… The ideal ratio of rent to income is 25-30% of your monthly income, which makes it easy to determine the price range of the apartment you’re willing to pursue. It’s also important to note that most landlords will expect an initial security deposit upfront, which will be used to cover damages or other unmet conditions of the lease.
2. Search For The Place Within Your Budget & Read The Fine Print Before Signing
After figuring out all of your finances, it’s time to browse for your first apartment! The entire process of finding an apartment is actually very simple. First, search for apartments through a reliable website such as Hotpads.com or Apartments.com. Most, if not all of these websites, allow users to filter options depending on a variety of factors such as budget, location, and price. Upon finding the apartment of your dreams, contact the landlord for a tour. It may be beneficial to write a list of questions before the tour so that you can get all of your questions answered and decide on the apartment with 100% accuracy. One of the most important questions to ask your landlord concerns the lease’s term limit. Signing a 12-month lease is a major commitment, especially if it’s your first time renting. Some landlords will offer a 6-month lease or even a month-to-month lease option, which is better suited for first-time renters; this will allow for less commitment in case the apartment is not what you expected it to be. A few other important questions that can be asked during your tour include how many roommates are permitted, the overall safety of the neighborhood, parking options, etc…
3. Fill Out An Application
If all of the answers sound good, then you’ll have to fill out an application, as well as any other resources that your landlord asks for. This can include references, background checks, and other documents that reflect on your character and how well of a tenant you’ll be. Once you’ve been accepted, you’ll be asked to provide the security deposit as mentioned earlier (which can range in amount from the cost of one month’s rent to any amount specified by the landlord). After securing your apartment and paying the deposit, you’ll have to pay your first month of rent, utilities (such as water, sewer, and gas), and a monthly pet fee if you own a pet.
4. Cut Corners When You Can To Stay Within Budget
Upon moving into your new apartment, it’s always a great idea to ask family and friends if there are any household items that you can take off their hands. Unused kitchen appliances, such as dishes and utensils, or even furniture can be a great addition to your new space while saving money and staying within your budget. Although the big move can seem overwhelming, things will settle down as you become acquainted with your new space. Depending on your experience, your first apartment is a great learning experience and will always hold a special place in your heart.