Moving out on your own for the very first time can be exciting, but also can be slightly overwhelming. There’s a lot to consider when you’re a first-time renter, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to make sure you’re fully prepared for finding your first home.
The first thing you’re going to need to do before even beginning your apartment search is to figure out what you can afford. Write a list of all your estimated monthly expenses (rounding them up if you’re not 100% sure) so you can see how much money you’ll have left for rent at the end of it. Either use pen and paper, a spreadsheet or a specialized app.
Remember that you’ll need to pay a security deposit too, and this is usually the same amount as a month’s rent. And that’s not forgetting that most apartments require the first month and last month’s rent upfront.
It’s important to take note of how close things will be to your new apartment. If you don’t drive, maybe you’ll need to live near decent public transport links? If you do drive, you’ll need to find somewhere with ample parking. Being close to the city center means that rent will probably be higher, but if you’re going to make that money back in cabs on nights out, it might be worth the extra cost. If you have kids, are you close enough to their daycare or school? Do you want to live closer to work?
Now you need to decide whether or not you need, or perhaps want, a roommate. Having one can help decrease your share of rent, but some people value their privacy over saving money. Having said that, if you’re moving out from student accommodation or living with your parents, you might be used to sharing your space. You could decide that having a roommate is the perfect middle ground. You won’t get too lonely and you’ll still have your independence. Make sure that if you do decide to get roommates you all collaborate on writing a roommate agreement to stave off any potential issues.
What does your apartment building actually offer? What of these is important to you? It may be worth spending an extra few bucks on rent each month if the building has its own gym and you’re a regular gym-goer. On the flip side, if they have amenities that you’re not likely to use, consider looking elsewhere for a building that you can fully take advantage of.
Don’t forget to take into consideration the amenities inside the apartment too. An outdated kitchen might not bother someone who plans on eating out every evening, but a foodie might want a nice shiny new one. Do you want a balcony or extra closet space? Make a list of your requirements, and then break them up into ideals and non-negotiables.
Are they included? If not, you might want to ask for estimates of how much they’re likely to run you each month. Some apartments may have higher rental costs but may include all utilities. Others may seem cheaper at first glance but once you total up how much utilities cost each month, might end up being comparable. The exact details should be outlined in your lease but it makes sense to ask the landlord or current tenants if you can. If you’re going to be living with roommates, it’s a good idea to make sure you all know who’s paying for what, how much, and when they’re due. Check out this guide for tips on how to split expenses with roommates.
Beware Scam Listings
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If an apartment listing doesn’t have any photos, ask yourself why. It could be that there’s a reason, or it could be that the listing isn’t real. Consider asking someone like a parent or someone else experienced at renting for help on your apartment search to make sure you don’t get scammed. Here are 6 red flags to look out for when hunting for your very first apartment.
A really handy thing that you can do when looking for your first apartment, is to check the reviews of the building or landlord themselves. Websites like Whose Your Landlord are specifically designed to give renters ownership of their living situation by allowing them to review landlords and buildings. It’s a great way to hear from others living there without having to actually go knocking on people’s doors.
From friendliness and efficiency of the front desk, to whether or not the amenities are always out of use, user reviews can give you an excellent idea of what the property will be like to live in. Plus, sometimes they’ll note down something that you may not have even thought of before.
It can feel like a lot to have to think about when you’re looking for your first apartment, but if you follow the above tips you should be able to find your first home with no problems! Preparation is key here, and lists may be your new best friend.