Finally flying the nest and moving into your own apartment is an important step in the game of life. Equal parts thrilling and nerve-wracking, the more you look into the logistics of renting your own place, the more you realize that it’s not as easy as taking the keys and moving in. Independence comes at a price, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to avoid any major pitfalls and can enjoy your own space to the max.
Let’s take a look at six things any first-time apartment renter can benefit from knowing.
Your Budget Has to Cover More than Just the Rent
At first glance, this seems obvious; on top of your monthly rent payments, you’ll need to pay utilities and food. But there’s even more to it. Before you start looking for apartments, it’s essential to create a realistic budget that works for you. To do this, you need to fully understand all the costs involved in renting your own place.
Before you move in, you’ll need to make sure you’ve saved up enough cash to pay the following upfront costs:
- Security deposit
- First and last months’ rent
- Furnishings (if required)
- Moving costs
- Application fees (if required)
Once you’ve moved in, there are several monthly fees you’ll need to take into account:
- Internet and phone
- General Maintenance (e.g., snow removal)
Knowing all of these costs in advance enables you to save for a deposit and budget for the ongoing monthly costs. In doing so, you’ll be able to find an apartment that you can comfortably afford, rather than living paycheck to paycheck. As a general rule of thumb, limit yourself to spending 30% of your income on housing needs.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
If you find that no matter how you crunch the numbers, renting alone just isn’t feasible right now, don’t despair. Moving in with a roommate is a superb way to split the costs and enjoy a more desirable location and a larger living space. However, think long and hard about who you’re comfortable living with, and don’t assume that your best friends are always going to be a good fit.
Living with someone is a big step, and it’s important that all parties involved understand what they’re getting themselves into. Write down on paper the house rules and the needs of each person to figure out whether you’re compatible or not.
Viewing in Advance Is Essential
No matter how amazing the photos look online, it’s always essential to visit a potential apartment before you make a decision. There’s no other way to get a feel for the neighborhood and location, as well as the apartment itself. Photos can be flattering, but visiting for real will soon let you know if your dream apartment is the real deal or not.
If you’re happy enough to sign the lease agreement and make the plunge, don’t forget the final walkthrough. This is an opportunity to discuss with your landlord all the issues and damage the property had before your arrival. Take photos as evidence so that when your lease is up, you cannot be held accountable for issues that existed before you moved in.
Understanding the Lease Agreement Is Important
Your lease agreement is a legally binding contract between you, the tenant, and the owner, the landlord. It details the basics, such as the duration of the lease, the cost of monthly payments and the consequences of late payments. Landlords can also use this document to set their own rules and terms, so be sure to read thoroughly before signing anything. If in doubt, ask a professional or someone with more experience for advice.
Good Relationships with Your Neighbors Go a Long Way
Your relationship with your neighbors can make or break your first rental experience. First impressions count for a lot, and it helps to be open and friendly. Introduce yourself early on — a simple hello and a smile will normally suffice. On top of this, remember that you’re responsible for the noise in your apartment, so if you’re planning a party, let your neighbors know in advance and maybe invite them along.
Renters Insurance Is Worth Considering
Renters insurance can be a useful way to protect your belongings and yourself in case of accidents, vandalism, theft or natural disasters. It’s not overly expensive and can save you thousands of dollars if something bad does happen.