Renting your first apartment is an incredibly exciting step in life. You’re on your own for the first time and can choose to do what you want, when you want. It also means taking on a lot of new responsibilities. From learning how to find the right apartment to budgeting your expenses, there are a lot of firsts that come with moving out of mom and dads.
Here’s how to make your first apartment experience a good one.
First Time Renter Tips
Determine Your Needs
Before you begin the process of searching for the perfect apartment, make a list of your needs. These are very different from your wants.
Do you need an apartment close to public transportation? Do you have a cat that will require you to find a pet-friendly community? Knowing what your needs are will help you quickly filter out the apartments that won’t suit you.
Create a Budget
Once you know what your needs are, determine how much money you can afford to spend on rent each month. There are several methods you can use to create a budget – two of which are the 30% threshold and the 50/30/20 budget.
The 30% threshold details that you should spend around 30% of your gross income in rent. To determine what that amount is, multiply your gross salary by 0.3. Divide that number by 12 to know approximately how much you should spend on rent each month.
Another way to budget your income and determine how much rent you can afford is with the 50/30/20 budget.
The budget gets broken down as follows:
- 50% of your income goes towards the essentials (rent, utilities, phone bill, any type of insurance, transportation, groceries, etc.)
- 30% of your income goes towards your lifestyle and non-essentials (movies, concerts, shopping, dining out, etc.)
- The remaining 20% should be invested or put in a savings account
The 50/30/20 budget is a simple way to categorize your income and see where your money is being spent every month.
Tour the Apartment
Once you found several apartments you like and can afford, set up a time to tour each one. Touring the community will allow you to see it first-hand, ask the property manager any questions, and see how the amenities are kept on a daily basis.
Know What Utilities Are Included
While you’re on the tour remember to ask if there are any utilities included. Some communities include all utilities, while some cover heat and hot water. This is important information to know so you can properly factor utilities into your budget.
Know What the Application Process is Like
Like utilities, the application process differs from apartment to apartment. If you’re a new renter with no credit you may need to have a guarantor. This person will undergo a credit check since they’re the ones guaranteeing that rent will be paid on time. If this is the case, you’ll want someone you can trust as a guarantor like a parent or a grandparent.
Read Through the Lease
Unlike accepting the terms and conditions for Netflix, don’t just sign your lease and move on. Take the time to read through it and understand what is expected of you as a renter. Your lease will detail what happens if you damage the property, who is responsible for apartment maintenance, and when rent is due, among many other things.
As a first-time renter, it’s also a smart idea to ask the property manager to go through the lease with you. They’ll be able to explain any confusing terms and ensure you understand everything.
See Your Apartment
Before you sign the lease, request to see the specific unit you will be renting. Take note of any issues you see such as low water pressure or loose tiles in the bathroom. Let your property manager know about the issues so maintenance can tend to them.
Get Renters Insurance
Renters insurance protects you and your belongings from theft, fires, natural disasters, and more. A renter’s insurance policy includes property coverage, personal liability coverage, medical coverage, and temporary housing if your apartment becomes uninhabitable. The benefits far outweigh the cost, which is only about $10 a month as it is. Also, many apartment communities require rental insurance anyways.
Renting your first apartment and living on your own will be a great experience! Explore our 20 communities throughout the Capital Region and find your ideal apartment today.