After several years of diligently saving money, I’m nearly ready to purchase my first home. Because I’ve been thinking about buying a home for so long, I know exactly what I want my house to look like. I desire a place that has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. I also need a quiet space to set up my home office in. I want a massive, walk-in closet in my master bedroom. My master bathroom needs to have double vanities, a tiled, walk-in shower, and a Jacuzzi tub. On this blog, I hope you will discover how to set priorities during your new home search. Enjoy!
Leaving home is a great adventure, but it's also often a time full of uncertainty and a little confusion. Without experience in doing things like renting your own place, how can you navigate the processes?
To get you started, here's a quick 5-step guide to renting your first apartment.
Research the Area
Start your apartment search by learning about the area in which you want to live. Whether this is local, distant, or determined by a college you'll be attending, you can learn a lot by driving and walking around the neighborhood as well as doing some searches on the internet. You may find that your desired location is too expensive and be able to expand your search a little, or you may find that it has other personality quirks that don't fit your lifestyle.
What should you look for? Check out what's within walking distance that interests you, how close it is to public transportation (if applicable) or to your new school and work places, what free amenities are nearby, and how much traffic it gets at various times of the day or year.
Set a Budget
Once you have an idea what apartments for rent are like in your chosen area, it's time to compare that to your actual budget. Most experts recommend you try to spend no more than 30% of your after-tax income on housing, although this may be difficult for many millennials working entry-level jobs. You'll also need to budget for housing-related expenses such as renter's insurance, some utilities, and different commuting costs.
You may want an apartment that looks like the ones you see in movies or on TV, but you probably won't be able to afford it. Make a checklist of priorities to look for in your first place, ranking them from most important to least important. Understand what you can live with and without before you head out to look at the first apartment for rent. If you have friends or family members who live on their own, talk with them about what they learned from their first foray into renting.
Check Your Credit
Background checks are increasingly common for today's landlords, and they're doubly important if you don't already have established references. Be sure there are no surprises by checking your own credit for free at annualcreditreport.com. Check with any co-signers as well to ensure that they can pass credit checks, and talk with your employer about verifying employment during landlord checks.
Once you've chosen an apartment, carefully read all documents before you sign them. Yes, this part is boring, but it can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars when you move out if you understand your rights and responsibilities. Be sure you understand what upfront money is required, how parking and community spaces are meted out, and how you must leave the apartment upon terminating your lease in order to get your deposit back.
By following these few guidelines, you can help ensure that your first time living on your own will be just as much fun as it sounds like in the movies.