There is a lot to learn as a first-time renter. While some things aren’t important, every first-time renter should know four critical things. Whether you’re moving out of your parent’s apartment or you’re relocating for a job, the transition is new and overwhelming. These tips will not only help prepare you for the endeavor, but make sure you have as few headaches along the way.
Know Your Budget
If you have never rented before, expenses may have not been something you paid attention you. But, now that you are moving out, you’ll have to start thinking about expenses. Some you might encounter include:
Moving out on your own guarantees an increase to your monthly expenditures. So before you even start apartment hunting, add up how much you pay each month already (car payment, student loans, etc.) and how much you’ll add by moving out. Then, compare that to your income. Remember you may also have one-time setup fees, such as installing cable or setting up internet – which need to be factored into your moving out budget.
Make a List of Priorities
You might think living downtown is great or having a gym in your apartment is important, but it is easy to set your expectations too high when you’re a first-time renter. It’s time to be realistic about what you can afford and what you’re likely to find. Sit down and make a list of your real priorities— such as having a new apartment close to work or public transportation. Then, write down your secondary priorities — such as a pool or fitness center.
Think in the Long-Term
No one wants to move all the time, so you do need to think long-term when you’re looking for an apartment. Don’t have the mentality that “this will do for now” because searching for another apartment isn’t easy. Think about how the apartment you’re looking at works for you now as well as in the future. Does it have enough space as your furniture collection grows? Do you plan on getting a roommate in the future (or getting rid of one)?
Read the Lease and Understand What You’re Signing
As a first-time renter, a lease might be the first contract you’ve ever signed. Read it carefully and make sure you understand every line. If you have questions, ask the property manager to explain what something means. If you’re unsure, you can have someone else read and explain the lease to you as well. Always review things like:
- Your security deposit — how and when you get it back.
- Your rules — can you have guests? Can you paint?
- Your payments – When are they do and what happens if you’re late?
- Your lease term — How long is it and what happens if you need to move before the lease is up?