Moving out and finding our own space is a part of most of our bucket lists. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of finding and renting your first space. However, after the initial excitement wears off, the inevitable questions start popping up – how to rent an apartment, what kind of apartments should I consider, should I get a roommate, where do I start, and countless others.
Don’t fret too much though, we have, in the form of this article, all the answers to help you through the entire apartment-renting process.
It’s normal to be swayed by a pricey apartment with a gorgeous view. However, figuring out what you can afford and deciding on a budget that is comfortable for your financial situation will save you money in the long run. You’ll probably have to make lifestyle tradeoffs to meet your budget with your first house, so determining what you can afford to give up and what is necessary for your lifestyle is a critical step in your financial calculations.
While deciding your budget, factor in your monthly income, savings, and any debt you may have to determine the range of rent you can afford. Make sure the rent amount includes other living expenditures such as food and transportation.
To find the perfect apartment for you, make a list of your main lifestyle priorities. Do you need to be near public transportation in order to get to work? Do you need a place to work from home? Do you prefer to live alone or in a shared apartment? You’ll probably save money if you live with roommates because you’ll split the cost of common rooms like the living room and kitchen rather than paying for them all on your own.
Another way to save money is by opting for apartments where landlords have a home warranty in place. Having one ensures peace of mind and reduces the overall repair and replacement costs of appliances and systems. If they don’t, you can request for one to be purchased or buy one from the top home warranty companies in the market.
After a long day out in the world, your apartment is where you’ll rest and unwind, so make sure it’s the appropriate fit for you. Check every spot in the house during a showing, including communal spaces, outdoor spaces, and any facilities such as parking, gyms, and laundry rooms. Testing faucets, appliances, doors, and locks is standard procedure, as is taking measurements for any furniture that must fit.
Make sure the level of security in the building, the quantity of noise in the building, and the sort of light the apartment receives are all acceptable to you. Also consider how you’ll get in, like the stairs or the elevator, how many floors you’ll be climbing, and how near you can park for moving day.
Ask the landlord or showing agent to double-check whatever you would verify in person if you are doing a virtual showing. Ask for room dimensions, for the agent to try out appliances or fixtures, and for a tour of the apartment’s exterior spaces. Ask questions, and they should be happy to answer them! Virtual showings are becoming more prevalent, and both you and your landlord are looking for a win-win situation—ask questions, and they should be eager to answer them! If they aren’t, that flat is probably not for you.
If you’re a first-time renter, you might not be familiar with the term credit score. When banks, credit card issuers, auto loan issuers, insurance companies, and landlords make lending or leasing choices, they utilize your credit score, which is a three-digit figure based on your credit history.
Your credit score is an important part of your credit report that shows your landlord or property management business how you’ve handled payments, debt, and overall finances over time. Some landlords will do a credit check to determine your credit score, while others may request a copy of your credit report. The credit score required to rent an apartment varies depending on region and other factors, but a better credit score makes you a more competitive applicant in general.
Because your lease is a legally binding agreement, make sure you read it thoroughly. It’s also a tenant resource that you may keep on hand once you’ve moved in. Wondering if you can hang that image on the wall? You’ll find out from your lease, and you may always come back to it if you have any queries.
It will also cover the fundamentals, like your monthly rent amount and how rent increases work. If you’re lucky enough to discover a rent-controlled apartment (which are more frequent in big cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC), your lease will break out those restricted increases so you can budget accordingly.
Make sure you understand the term of the lease (month-to-month or year-to-year), the restrictions regarding pets, parking, and the security deposit, and what you are responsible for vs what the landlord will take care of before signing. Before you sign, ask questions and seek clarification from a family member, friend, or the internet on any words you don’t understand.
Apart from the fee for the moving company you hire, you’ll likely spend a significant amount of money to move into your apartment because you’ll need to pay your first month’s rent plus a security deposit—if you have a pet, expect to pay a separate pet deposit in addition to your regular security deposit. The majority of security deposits are equal to one month’s rent, but double-check your lease for exact figures.
Don’t forget to budget for other necessities that aren’t often included in your rent, such as utilities (electricity, gas, and internet). Many leasing agreements include utilities such as garbage and water, but double-check your lease.
It’s recommended to go through the lease agreement once again before signing. Once you’re entirely satisfied with how much you’ll be spending, where you’ll be living, and clear on all the finer details, sign the lease and move in.
After all the formalities are over with, plan your move to the apartment beforehand to ensure a smooth transition. The moving-in part can be a hassle, so don’t think twice before enlisting the help of a moving company or your friends.