Ready to rent your first apartment? This option has long been popular for those seeking more financial flexibility versus getting entangled in a long-term mortgage and dealing with all of the responsibility that comes along with home ownership.
Like many firsts, you’ll likely remember this apartment for a long time – so let’s make sure it’s a fond memory! Here are some important considerations to note before signing on the dotted line:
- Make sure you know exactly what you need (and what you can live without). Do you have a car or do you need access to public transportation? How long is your commute? Do you have pets and need a pet-friendly community? Spend a lot of time at the gym and want an in-house option? Is a second bedroom for a roommate an important factor in affording what you want?
- Searching for an apartment can be time-consuming and frustrating as units are quickly snatched up. Do your research before scheduling a visit to avoid wasted time.
- Visit the actual unit available in person before signing anything – test out the appliances and phone reception, take measurements, explore the neighborhood, meet your would-be neighbors. Is the building well-maintained and clean? Is the area safe?
- Be sure you accurately calculate your monthly expenses and determined what you can afford. Make sure you factor in start up costs, such as rental fees, utility deposits and a moving truck – this could easily run you a few thousand dollars.
- Having a credit card is a great way to help establish credit, which you will need when signing for your apartment. Be careful not to fall into the trap of maxing out your card and only paying the minimum every month – the high interest rates can keep you in constant debt. References might also be accepted in lieu of established credit.
- Read the lease carefully and get clarification about anything you don’t understand. Some items to look for are lease terms, co-signer requirements, rent increase policies, subletting policies and fees.
- Get renter’s insurance. Your landlord will have insurance for their property, but that only covers damage to infrastructure, not your belongings. Fees are quite low ($19.99/month) and well-worth the cost of replacing your more expensive items such as computer, tv and stereo.
- Before you move in, turn on and order all of the utilities not covered by your landlord, such as electric, gas, internet and cable.
- Make sure you have all of the home essentials you might need, such as a tools, cleaning supplies, kitchenware, and bedding..
- On move-in day, note any pre-existing problems or defects, sign and date and present to your landlord to be sure you are not held responsible. Take photos for further documentation.
Follow these tips to make sure that your first renting experience is a success!