The time has finally come! You are about to rent your very first apartment, or perhaps you are deciding to move to a brand new apartment. Just think of all the fun you are going to have in your own place. You can decorate it however you want, cook whatever food you feel like having, and feel at home in a place of your own. It’s an exciting time! Before you sink into this new-found freedom and jump right into the first apartment you find, take time to go through our handy “First Time Renter” checklist. Moving into an apartment can be fun, but it can also be stressful! This whole process may be new to you, or you may feel lost about what to do at certain points. We’re here to give you some advice to make sure you are as prepared as possible.
1) Check Your Credit Score & Report
Having a messy credit report can be dangerous when searching for your apartment. Landlords are always going to check credit, so you want make sure your score is up to par and there are no surprises in your report. Take time to build up and maintain your credit before you invest in an apartment. Trust us, if you have good credit, the whole process will be much easier.
2) Check the Layout
Don’t rush into the first apartment you see. There are plenty of options out there, so you should take your time and look around. There are many floor plans that fit different people’s needs. Choose the one that feels right to you. Choose a place that you feel can be your “home” for the next few years.
3) Talk to Your Soon-to-be Neighbors
Complaints about neighbors are one of the most common issues people have when living in an apartment. Before moving in to a new place, talk to the neighbors. Doing this can help you hear about all the positive things and great people that are in your prospective community. Talking to your neighbors will also establish a positive relationship right off the bat if you do decide to move in.
4) Do the Math
Sit down and figure out how much money you spend on rent each month. If standard rent cost is a third of your monthly salary you know you have to keep your search within that price range. Also, be aware that rent isn’t the only cost you are going to have to budget for. Make sure you leave room in your budget for food, bills, and utility costs. If you are trying to start your savings (which you should be), living from one paycheck to the next is going to severely hamper your amount saved.
5) What About a Roommate?
Some people go into renting an apartment knowing they want to bring in one of their close friends as a roommate. Just be cautious with your selection, make sure your roommate is the kind of person that you can trust to put up his end of the rent and other related costs each month. Also make sure that if you plan on living with a roommate, to find an apartment that will suite both of you at the same time. For more information, check out our blog post on roommate advice for even more great tips.
6) Meeting the Landlord
Dress your best and act professionally. Doing this will impart a great first impression on your landlord. In other words, treat it as a job interview!
After making the initial deposit on the apartment itself you may need to lay out other necessary payments. You might find yourself paying a fee for activation of electricity, phone service, cable, or other assorted utilities. A rule of thumb for the security deposit is most often around the cost of one month’s rent and other utility deposits can cost anywhere from $25 to $100. Plan ahead and try and coordinate your move in closer to the beginning of the month, that way you get the most out of your initial deposits and rent costs.
8) Take a Final Tour
So you’ve picked your apartment and you are just about ready to move in. There is one last thing you need to do before you unload all of your worldly possessions into your new home. Take a walk through your apartment before move in day and assess the condition of everything inside. This walk through gives you confirmation that the space has been fully prepared for your arrival and that your apartment meets your satisfactions and expectations.
9) Purchase Renter’s Insurance
You may be hesitant about renter’s insurance, but we strongly recommend that you make this purchase. You may trust yourself not to do damage to your apartment, but you still need to watch out for the “other guy”. Also note that renter’s insurance protects you from natural disasters! Having the piece of mind that you will be covered on your damages can be a relief and extremely helpful should damage actually occur.
10) Congratulate Yourself & Enjoy the Apartment
You are now the occupant of your very first apartment, so enjoy it! Decorate and furnish to your liking or cook whatever dishes you feel like having. Make your apartment your home, not just some building you live in. Last but not least – relax! You did great!