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The Go-To Guide to Renting Your First Apartment

At first, the question of what to expect when renting your first apartment can be a bit daunting since you’re approaching an entirely unknown process. Where should you look for properties to rent? How do you know you’ve found the right place? How high are the initial costs? All new things seem difficult at first but there’s no need to worry. The task of finding your ideal home can be broken down into a series of key points to consider and follow.

We’ve covered everything you need to know when renting your first apartment.

Start your search

First and foremost, when renting your first apartment, you will have to establish your budget. A good recommendation is to stick to at most one-third of your disposable income, so if you have $3,000 up for spending, no more than $1,000 should go towards renting expenses. Besides the budget, you must consider broad aspects such as the area you’ll be moving to and the number of roommates you’ll be living with. Of course, you’ll want the location to be as close as possible to your job or school, but keep an eye out for other nearby facilities such as grocery stores and bus stops.

Once that’s done, you’re ready to head over to the web and start looking at listings.

Find your dream home

No matter whether you live in New York, LA or any other city for that matter, the apartment you move into should be the right one for you. Are you maybe looking for a pool? Must the apartment have a private patio or balcony? What about location? Is it going to be central or suburban? It’s OK to be picky and meticulous in your search for the perfect apartment. The real estate agent is there to answer any questions you might have, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Choose when to rent

If you have the flexibility to postpone the moving date you will want to choose the best time to rent. During the warm season, a higher number of properties are up for rent, which means more options to filter through to find your dream home. If you’re after cheaper prices, you’re most likely to find them during winter when landlords have a harder time finding tenants.

Visit the apartment

Among the best tips for renting your first apartment is actually seeing the property before you move in. You should get to see at least a few properties before making a decision so that you have an idea of what’s out there. Most importantly, remember to ask critical questions such as: does the rent include basic utilities? Which amenities belong to the previous tenant and will go once they leave? What are the accepted forms of payment? Make a list beforehand so you don’t forget anything. A note on dress code: there’s no need to be formal. A clean shirt and jeans will do just fine.

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Have your documentation ready

To assure themselves that you will be able to pay the rent, landlords will ask for personal information and other documentation such as credit score, social security card, pay stubs, rental history, and others. You’ll find out exactly what you must submit then, but preparing the most common items ahead of time will save you a lot of hassle and speed up the application process. Moreover, depending on whether you’re applying through an agency or directly with an individual manager, the application fee might be higher or lower than you expected. If by any chance the property administrator denies your application based on your credit score, you can certify that you’re a reliable tenant by proving your income or savings balance.

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Deposits, deposits, deposits

Be prepared to have to submit a hefty amount upfront. If you sign a month-by-month rental agreement you might be looking at just twice the month’s rent down payment – the first month of rent and the same amount as a security deposit. For year-to-term leases, the down payment can add up to thrice the month’s rent – the first month, the security deposit and the last month of the lease.

Do read the contract

You have almost rented an apartment by now! Nevertheless, you don’t want to skip past reading the contract. It is a legal document which binds both parties to follow through on an agreement. For this reason, the lease must include all the points you’ve discussed with your landlord so that both of you are obliged to keep your word.

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You now know everything about moving into your first apartment. Access the RentCafe listings page to find and claim your dream home.

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Alex Draghici
Curious by nature, Alex wants to learn everything there is about real estate. When not researching this topic, he spends his time reading and keeping up with news all around the world.

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