Renting an apartment is a big step, and one that can be difficult to navigate if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re looking to rent your first apartment, or if you’re looking for tips on how to get the most out of your rental experience, we’ve put together a list of 10 things you need to know before you set out to rent your very own apartment.
Learn about what’s important to ensure that you win out over the competition in the rental application process, what you need to know before renting an apartment, and general tips for first-time apartment renters.
Start Your Search Early
Moving into a new apartment is an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful one. If you are renting for the first time, you might want to consider starting your search as early as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to go over a variety of apartments and to view as many of them as possible. If you are looking for an apartment in a popular area, it may take a while before you find the perfect place that ticks all your needs and a good number of your wants. The longer you wait to start your search, the more likely it is that you’ll miss out on your first choice. If you start your search early, you’ll give yourself more time to apply for several different apartments, weigh your options, and make a more informed decision regarding which option is best for you.
Check Out the Neighborhood
Before signing a lease and moving into a new apartment, it’s important to take a moment to look at the neighborhood you’ll be moving into. Go at different times of the day and night to gauge how safe the neighborhood feels, how noisy it is, and whether amenities are available at convenient times for you. Take a moment to speak with potential neighbors, too. Ask them how they feel about the neighborhood, and if they have any tips for people considering moving into the area. If you come across a recurring complaint from your potential neighbors, or if it feels like they are less than happy with the neighborhood, you may want to reconsider the neighborhood.
Be Honest on the Application
When you are renting a house or an apartment for the first time, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of being out on your own. As exciting as setting out on your own for the first time may be, however, it is important to be honest on the application about your income and any pets you may have. If you are not completely forthright on the application, you may be asked to move out at a later date if your landlord finds out the truth. Furthermore, if you have a pet, be prepared to pay a little extra in rent to make up for the additional wear and tear your pet may put on the home.
Ask Lots of Questions
Renting an apartment is a big step, and there are lots of things to consider. You should ask yourself: do you want to live in a building with other people? Or would you rather have your own house? Do you need to be close to public transportation, or do you have a car? Is it important for you to live in the middle of the city where you’ll always have something to do, or do you prefer a quieter area like the suburbs?
It’s important to answer all these questions before setting out on your apartment search, so that you know which types of properties to look for. This is especially important if you are a first-time renter who never had to consider these things before.
Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that represents your financial history and allows potential landlords to gauge how good of a tenant you will be. A high credit score can get you better interest rates on loans and lower insurance premiums, while a low credit score can get you denied for loans and rental applications. It's important to know your credit score before renting an apartment, so that you go into your apartment hunt prepared and informed. If you have a low credit score, you may need to prepare yourself for a more difficult apartment search, one where you may have to be more flexible on your needs and wants. If you have a high credit score, you’re in a much better position. Higher credit scores could mean that you’ll be able to negotiate for better terms on your lease or even sometimes a lower monthly price.
When you are looking to rent an apartment, it’s important to look at more than just the price of rent – you need to consider the utilities too. Utilities can be a big expense and if you are not careful and don’t do your homework in advance you could end up paying a lot more than you need to. Utilities like gas and electricity can be especially expensive, for instance, so ensuring that you’re moving into a properly insulated apartment before signing the lease can save you hundreds – if not thousands – in the long run.
When looking for a place to rent, get an estimate of the utilities in the building. See what it costs to run various appliances to get a rough estimate of how much your normal use of each appliance (like daily use of a dishwasher, for instance) will cost you. This will help you see the bigger picture and better determine whether or not the apartment is a good fit for you.
Have an Emergency Fund
When you are moving into an apartment for the first time, it's incredibly important to have an emergency fund. This is a small amount of money that you’ll keep on hand for any unexpected expenses that may arise during your stay. It's also a good idea to have a separate credit card that is only used for emergencies. This way you can be sure that you won't overspend on the card, and have the funds you need in case of an emergency.
Pay Your Rent and Bills on Time
Renting an apartment is a big step in life, and it's important to start off on the right foot. To do this, you should make sure to have all your paperwork in order and pay your rent on time. If you are a first time renter, you may not know that your landlord is legally allowed to charge a late fee if you pay after the due date. Go over your rental contract, and be aware of any penalties that you may be liable for should you not pay your rent or bills on time. You also do not want to risk losing your security deposit if you damage the apartment or leave it in a poor state, so be incredibly careful not to damage the apartment itself or any of the appliances in it. If you do not know how to pay your rent or bills, or if there is anything you do not understand, don’t hesitate to ask someone who does for help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What am I looking for in a living space?
What does your living space look like? Do you have a lot of big furniture or a lot of small furniture? What kind of layout do you need? Do you need a space to store your bicycle or do you need a space for a home office? What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in? Do you want to be close to your workplace, or do you want a quiet neighborhood with lots of green space? These are all questions you need to answer before starting your apartment search.
What do I need to know before renting an apartment?
When you are moving into an apartment for the first time, there are a lot of things to think about. There is the move itself, of course, but you also have to consider how your new living space will work for you. The first thing to consider is how many people will be living in the apartment. If you are moving in with a partner or roommate, you need to think about how the apartment will work for two people in terms of how shared spaces will be handled, how utilities will be split, and how chores will be managed. If you are moving in alone, you need to think about how the apartment will work for one person in a similar way – how often will you need to clean, how often will you need to buy groceries, and how you will manage your budget.
How can I increase my chances of getting a rental?
When you are looking to rent an apartment, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of being chosen over other applicants. First, make sure you are looking for an apartment that is in your price range, fits your credit score, and meets your needs.
Second, make sure you are filling out the application completely and accurately. You may want to ask someone who has rented an apartment before to help you fill out the application.
Third, go in person to hand in the application. Never miss the chance to make a good first impression, and handing in the application not only ensures that it’s not missed, but also allows you to stand out from the crowd of applicants and helps put a face to a name in a sea of others.
Lastly, if you are approved for an apartment, make sure you sign the lease and get your security deposit and first month's rent in on time.
What are the best months to rent an apartment?
When you are looking for an apartment, your chances of finding the best apartment for your needs go up if you start your search at the right time. You want to make sure you are going to be comfortable in your new home, and you want to make sure you are getting a good deal.
If price is the most important factor in your search, then the best time to rent an apartment is in the winter. This is when fewer people are looking to move, and you will have less competition and likely find better deals on rent. The rental market will likely have a bigger selection in the summer months, however, up until the start of the school year in September, when most people have already found their next residence.
Can you negotiate rent for an apartment?
If you are moving to a new city, or just looking for a change of scenery, renting an apartment is a great way to go. It is an easy transition, and you can usually find something within your budget. But, renting an apartment is different from buying a house, and you should know that there are ways to negotiate the price of your rent.
- Be flexible. If you are looking at a few apartments in the same building, or even just on the same street, ask the landlord if he would be willing to give you a better deal if you agree to sign on the dotted line immediately. There is no harm in asking, and it may save you a few hundred dollars on your monthly rent, provided that you’re truly sure about the apartment and location and willing to sign the lease immediately.
- Sign a longer lease. If you are willing to sign a longer lease with the landlord, he or she may be willing to give you a better deal on the monthly rent. This is because they will have more security in knowing that they will not have to find a new tenant for at least a year or two.
- Offer to pay a larger security deposit. If you are not able to offer a larger monthly payment, you can always offer to pay a larger security deposit. This will ensure that the landlord does not have to worry about you skipping out on your rent payments, and will give him or her some assurance that you will be a good tenant.
- Offer to pay the first month's rent and security deposit in advance. If you are really interested in a place, offer to pay the first month's rent and security deposit in advance. This is a great way to show your commitment to renting the apartment, and will make the landlord much more willing to negotiate with you on the price.