At some time or another, most of us will go through the process of renting out our first apartment. Most have this concept that you simply throw money at a person that owns the apartment you want then you move in and that’s it. That’s how I thought it went when renting my first apartment. Well, it kind of is like that, but there’s a little more to it. There are a ton of considerations to take into account and it can be a daunting task for any first timer. Whether you’re solo or with a roommate looking for a new pad, renting your first apartment can be a fun process if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips that’ll make snagging your new pad easier and more enjoyable.
Figure out what you can REALLY Afford
This may seem obvious to some, but there’s more that go into the cost of renting an apartment than just paying rent. So, you should definitely take account for all those cost to figure out what you can really afford. I know that 5,000 square foot loft in down town Manhattan may sound like the perfect place, but it might be a little out of financial reach for now. You should take into account all the deposits that may occur, which could be first and last month’s rent, electricity, pet deposit (yes, they charge for your pet too), cable, internet, water, etc. If this is your first apartment chances are you’ll have to put a deposit down for a few things since your credit and renting history is minimal. You’ll also want to think about moving costs, renter’s insurance, if you’ll need new furniture, groceries for the month, basic home supplies (i.e. shower curtains, vacuum, cleaning supplies, etc.) , and most importantly, the rent. Be reasonable about what you can afford. Some say 30% of your total income is a good number, but it can differ. You want to be able to go out still right? So think about that too!
Scope out Neighborhoods
This is a big one. The type of neighborhood you move to can have a huge effect on the outcome of your life. If you’re a student wanting to move off campus don’t move to a neighborhood where the average age is 62 and it’s 10 miles to campus each way. Chances are most of the stores around the area will be geared for that age group. Same goes for anyone else. If you can, find an area that meets your needs along with your wants: the grocery store you prefer, the night life, average age of residents and so on. You can easily figure all this stuff out on websites like Trulia, Yelp, or Google maps. You can just kind of cruise around, too. A good indicator to gauge a neighborhood is the quality of the surrounding schools. If the schools have good ratings and reviews chances are the neighborhood is just as good. Good schools also indicate that the area will probably grow with culture and stores in the future. Plus, you want to move in a place where you feel safe.
Bring a Friend or Helper
When you’re looking around at all of these new amazing places you may soon call home it can become easy to get caught up in the appearance or small things and forget about the rest. Bringing a friend or someone that has your best interest in mind will help keep you grounded. The landlords and property managers will tell you everything you want to hear just to get you to sign your life away. Okay, not your life, but they’ll make everything seem like it’s perfect just to get you to move in and they will be good at it. I had a guy lie to my face about a roach being a roach. Seriously. Bringing someone to have your back will keep the predators at bay. They may also spot something you missed, like a crack in a wall, broken appliances, or you know, a mugging going on outside. It’s also always fun to make comments about everything you did and didn’t like to someone on the drive out.
Consider Hiring a Realtor
First thought that may come to mind, “I can’t afford a Realtor”. For some, this may be true, but there are benefits to hiring a Realtor. Realtors have expert knowledge in the entire process of renting or buying a property and know the areas well. Some Realtors even specialize in finding apartments. They often have access to information the common citizen doesn’t, so they may find better deals and have connections to the right people. Realtors will look over your contract/lease agreement to make sure you’re not being swindled either. They can also act as that helper, mentioned in the previous paragraph, to help you with just shopping around. You can call a local real estate brokerage or one in your desired area to see if hiring a Realtor is beneficial for you.
All of the work entailed in renting your first apartment can wear on you. It may take a few days or a few months to find the place. Hence, it is important to stay motivated in finding what you want and not settling for less. If you’re feeling stressed take a few days off from the search and just relax. You could also go out and look for some things you may want to furnish your new pad with. Taking your mind off of the task can help you step back and remember why you’re doing it. Have confidence in yourself and do research before you make any final decisions on a choice. Motivation is key.
So, now that you’re a little more equipped to take on the challenge, go out there and find your new home!