Renting your first apartment is a big step. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time–and you want to be sure that you don’t miss any important details before you move in. If you’re starting the journey to your first apartment, make sure you keep these key tips in mind so that you don’t find yourself wishing you could run back home again in your first week.
#1: Know Your Budget
One of the most critical pieces of the apartment puzzle is how much you can afford to spend. Chances are, you aren’t rolling in the dough during this early stage, so take the time to carefully evaluate your budget to discover how much you can afford to spend on your apartment. Make sure you consider items like food, gas, and renters insurance. Also, remember that no matter how appealing that apartment is, you’re quickly going to get tired of eating Ramen noodles every night. Ideally, your rent shouldn’t take any more than 30% of your income.
#2: Distance Matters
You’ve found the perfect apartment, but it’s a half hour or more commute from your job or school. While distance doesn’t have to be the deciding factor in your chosen apartment, it does matter! Not only does that commute mean time spent on the road every day, it means money spent in gas–and that can strain your budget even further.
#3: Take Pictures
When you move into your first apartment, you’ll be expected to pay a damage deposit. Ethical landlords will give that back to you if you don’t cause damage to the apartment before you move out. Unfortunately, not every landlord is eager to turn over that deposit. Document the way the apartment looks before you move in so that if there are any problems, you’ll have photographic evidence that it wasn’t your fault.
#4: Save Up Before Moving
You can’t wait to get out of your parents’ place (or maybe you’re desperate for that first place on your own after staying with roommates). Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should jump to move out the moment you have your first month’s rent in the bank. Instead, take the time to save up 3-6 months’ worth of expenses while you have that luxury. That way, temporary job loss, illness, or injury won’t cause the same level of panic.
#5: Get to Know the Neighbors
The apartment looks like something out of a magazine, or perhaps something straight out of your dreams. It has all-new everything, and it’s beautiful! Before you jump to move in, however, make sure you check out the other important details–like the neighbors. Take a walk around the neighborhood and get to know the neighbors. Let them know that you’re thinking about moving in. This is also a great chance to ask about the landlord: the last thing you want is to get stuck with one who never fixes anything or is inflexible when you have problems.
#6: Check Out the Area: Traffic Patterns, Public Transport, Recreation, and More
What do the traffic patterns look like around the neighborhood you’re considering? If you have a car, is there a reasonable place to park it? If you don’t have a car, is there easy access to public transport? How long will it take you to get to work, whether you have to use public transportation or are able to get there on your own? You should also take a look at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and social activities. Examining the neighborhood will tell you a lot about the atmosphere and whether or not it’s a place where you really want to live.
#7: Evaluate Roommates Carefully
You live in a pricey area, and you can’t make rent on your own. Having roommates just makes sense! Before you jump on the roommate train, however, make sure that you get to know them. You want a roommate whose job schedule works with yours: someone who won’t be waking up and making a ton of noise just as you’re settling down to sleep, for example. You also want someone whose personality and interests will complement yours. Don’t move in with your best friend just because it seems easy: those “little quirks” that made you a little irritated during sleepovers could turn into serious issues once you’re full-time roommates.
#8: Read the Lease
Yes, all of it. Reading the lease will prevent you from getting stuck with unreasonable rules that you don’t want to live with. Not only that, the initial lease is negotiable! If you see problems, talk it through with your landlord. Often, they’ll be willing to make reasonable changes to help get you moved in. If they aren’t willing to make those changes and the circumstances of the lease don’t work for you, move on to a different apartment.
Moving into your first apartment is a big step, and you want to make sure you get it right! Dive into your search armed with these great tips to ensure that you’re able to make the most of your first apartment and truly enjoy living on your own.