Understanding the Rental Process
You may be moving out of your parents’ house or making the jump and leaving those college dorm room days behind, becoming a first time renter can be an exciting and pivotal time in your life. Figuring out how to rent a new place comes with new responsibilities, as well as freedom to pick and choose how, where, and what you want to live in.
Be aware of your income and expenses. Do not overestimate how much you can spend on rent and other necessities. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your gross income on rent. This isn’t always possible, but you should do your best to keep your housing expenses to 30% or under. You’ll need to account for your security deposit, first and last months’ rent, and an apartment application fee. If you’re moving in with a pet, this could also include a pet deposit or pet fee, as well as first and last months’ pet rent. Make sure to look at your lease carefully regarding the terms of getting your security deposit back, as well as any conditions for reimbursements.
To narrow down your choices, consider some of these following questions:
How far am I to work?
Will I be driving, using public transportation, or walking?
Do I want a quiet community or want to live in the middle of all the action?
Will my dream location fit in my budge?
The more you can narrow down your preferences, the easier it is to settle on the perfect community for you.
Having a car can change your rental budget and change your mind on where you may want to rent. Some neighborhoods like rarely require a car and offer plenty of public transportation options. While other suburban areas need a reliable parking situation. Consider whether or not you need a covered space, assigned parking, or if on-street parking is readily available and safe. It’s also important to look at your car insurance policy. You may discover your rates could go up or down depending on your long-term parking situation.
Prioritize amenities, as well as location. In some areas, apartment complexes and some suburban communities come loaded with options like swimming pools, on-site fitness centers, spas, club houses and more.
Also think about what you want inside of your apartment. You might be spending most of your time there so you want to make sure it is what you like and can live with.
How long does it take to find an apartment? It might take a day or it could take few months to find the right fit, so start your search early. If there’s no time to spare, you can use these useful tips on how to find an apartment fast.
Also, finding an apartment with a pet can make things a little more challenging. Learn the ins and outs of finding a pet-friendly apartment.
Prepare for other future expenses outside of your rent that may include utilities, parking, repairs, and new furniture. Utility costs can vary depending on your location and the season. Most rentals call for the renters to pay for gas and electricity, as well as internet and cable. You should also add in any subscriptions, food, memberships, transportation and any other ongoing expenses.
There is specific information from tenants required by landlords and property management, along with the rental application. This information may include your rental history, proof of income (pay stubs and/or W-2), past landlords and personal references, and, sometimes, your social security number.
The big day is quickly approaching! You finally signed the lease and are ready to move into your apartment. Moving can be stressful, especially for a first time apartment renter. However, a hassle-free move is possible, and prioritizing a smooth transition is key.
Discuss the move-in date with your landlord. Ask for help don’t try and taken this on by yourself, or hire professional movers. Get moving supplies by purchasing moving boxes at your local hardware store. Pack your belongings. Use smaller boxes for heavier items and bigger boxes for lighter items.
Set up utilities. Some utilities can be easily set up online, and some may require an in-person visit. Make sure to schedule everything ahead of time to avoid a lack of internet or cable.
Change your mailing address with USPS and set up mail forwarding.