Renting your first apartment is an exciting time – but it can also feel overwhelming. There are some big expenses involved, along with legal documentation and income qualifications. It’s a lot to think about all at once.
We’ve outlined five key things you should know before you jump into the apartment hunt. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know before renting your first place.
1. Personal Preferences
Apartments come in all different shapes and sizes. Finding the right one for you depends on your personal preferences. Before you start apartment hunting, you should think about what you need out of an apartment. It’s a good idea to jot down a list of your must-haves along with things or amenities that would be nice to have.
In addition to that list, you should consider various factors before looking for an apartment. One of the first things you should figure out is how much you can comfortably spend on rent each month. If your budget is tight, are you interested in finding a roommate to live with?
Location is an important factor in finding an apartment that will work for you. Proximity to school, work, or any other places you frequent will play into your decision. If you’re in a city or don’t have a car, you’ll want to make sure there are public transport routes nearby. You’ll also need to think about whether you can commit to a year-long lease or if you need the flexibility of a short-term or month-to-month lease.
You should also consider how important different amenities are to you. For example, you may want to look for an apartment that offers covered parking, a pool, a gym, or laundry facilities. Figuring out your personal preferences is the first step in your journey to getting your first apartment!
2. Upfront Costs
Monthly rent isn’t the only cost of renting an apartment. Depending on the market you’re in and what type of apartment you choose there are various upfront costs. These can include a rental application fee, a security deposit, and the cost of moving if you need to hire movers or a moving truck.
Additionally, most apartments require the first month’s rent upfront and some require the last month as well. If you have a pet the landlord might require a pet deposit. Make sure you have enough saved up to cover the upfront costs of the apartment you choose.
3. Long-Term Costs
There are a few different long-term costs associated with renting an apartment. Throughout your lease, you’ll need to pay for your utilities. Check your lease to see if any of them, have water, sewer, and trash included in your rent. Internet and electricity are usually not included in rent and you’ll need to factor them into your monthly budget.
Some leases require you to get renter’s insurance. While it may seem like another annoying cost, it’s a good thing! Renter’s insurance protects you and your belongings in the case of a theft or disaster.
4. What You Need to Fill Out a Rental Application
When you find that perfect apartment that you’re interested in renting, you’ll need to fill out a rental application. Before filling it out you should make sure you meet or exceed the property’s income requirement and minimum credit score to rent an apartment. Once you’re sure you qualify, you’ll need the following items to finish the rental application:
- The application from the property
- Proof of identification (driver’s license, passport, or state ID card)
- Proof of income (your last few pay stubs)
- The application fee (usually paid by check or credit card)
- A reference from a previous landlord or a personal/professional reference if you’ve never rented before
5. Understanding Your Lease
You want to understand what your lease says before you sign it. If you’re a first-time renter, this may be one of the first times you’re dealing with any sort of legal document. Take your time reading through it and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Be sure to check that the lease dates, your name, and the apartment number and address are all correct on the lease. Take note of what day of the month rent is due, the policy on late rent, and any regulations on behavior.
Ready to Rent Your First Place?
Now that you know the basics, are you ready to hit the ground running in your apartment search? Use these five tips to find the perfect first place for you!
If you’re interested in reading more articles like this, be sure to check out the rest of our blog!