First Time Renter? Here Are Some Great Tips!

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Whether you’ve finished college, got your first job, or you’re just ready to move out of your parents’ place, renting your first apartment is a big milestone. It’s an exciting time with lots of new freedoms, but also lots of responsibilities.

You want to be well-prepared for the whole apartment experience – from finding an apartment to moving in – and that means doing some preparation. If you’re wondering what you should be doing as your search for your new place, here are tips to keep you on track.

  • Create a Budget: First and foremost, create a budget. You want to make sure you do not “bite off more than you can chew.” Make a list of all of your expenses and bills, along with all of your income. Many people suggest that you spend no more than 30% of your income on rent, but you need to do what works for you. Additionally, make sure you have enough saved to cover deposits and other expenses (such as furnishings, household goods, etc.).
    • This is also a good time to consider whether you need a roommate in order to make apartment living work for you. 
  • Decide What You Need: When you start looking at apartments, you can get a pretty good idea of what you’ll need to make your apartment a home. Start a list of must-haves and create a separate list of wants. Then begin deciding how you’ll find all that you need. Do you have anyone who can donate some items to you? Can you shop second-hand for things? What will you need to buy new? Your must-haves will impact your budget – so be sure to create a detailed list.
  • Tour Your Apartment and the Facilities: You can probably do a lot of the legwork of finding an apartment by visiting websites. Most apartment complexes provide a lot of information via their webpages, but there’s nothing quite like seeing the place in person. Be sure to take a tour of the apartment and the facilities. Make sure that what you’ve seen online matches up to what you see on your tour. 
  • Be Sure You Know What Utilities Are Included: After you’ve visited so many apartments, you may forget what each apartment included for utilities. If you’ve narrowed down your choices, be sure you are clear on what is included and what is not. Some places may include all utilities, others a select few, and some none at all.
  • Ask Important Questions: Also, be sure to ask any questions you may have. You don’t want to sign a lease and find out that your apartment or the facilities don’t match your expectations. You’ll want to know about parking, trash, amenities, etc.
  • Fill Out Your Application: Once you’ve picked a place, begin the application process. Usually, this involves filling out a form, doing a credit check, and paying an application fee. If you don’t have a credit history, you may need to have a guarantor who will also go through the credit check process. They are guaranteeing the rent will be paid.
  • Read the Lease: Before signing on the dotted line, take the time to read your lease completely. If there are portions that you don’t understand, be sure to ask someone to explain. 
  • Purchase Renters’ Insurance: Lots of people may not think about getting renters’ insurance, but it is definitely something you should consider. It can help cover damage to your belongings from things such as fire, water damage, and theft.

Finding your first apartment is exciting – and maybe a bit stressful with so many things to think about. But use these tips and some guidance from family and friends to find a place that fits your budget and makes you feel at home. 

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