How to get an Apartment for the First Time & Important Things to Consider.
How to get an Apartment: Looking for an apartment, especially your first apartment can be overwhelming. To find the right rental you need to consider many variables, including the neighborhood, your budget limitations, and your lifestyle.
We have broken the whole intimidating process down that will coach you to find an apartment that is right for you.
Steps to Consider When Choosing Your First Home
Budget your Rent Costs
You might have your first salary, but you don’t want to be working just to pay the rent. Before you even begin looking for your first apartment, determine how much rent you can comfortably pay.
To make apartment living more affordable, consider bringing roommates into the equation. Some landlords will let roommates combine salaries to meet the income ratio, but not always.
When you’re looking for a place, don’t forget to factor additional living expenses into your budget. This could include monthly expenses for:
Utilities (gas, heat, electric).
Building fees (water, trash, maintenance).
Know how to Spot Rental Scams
Knowing how to rent an apartment on a budget is a challenge on its own, but it’s complicated by too-good-to-be-true listings. Knowing how to identify rental scams comes with experience. A first time apartment renter will be more susceptible to others, and over 5.2 million U.S. renters have fallen victim to rental scams. Not sure what to look out for?
Find the Area Where You Want to Live
You need to determine the best place for you. This should include factors such as finding a neighborhood you like with attractions and businesses you enjoy. Another major factor in determining the best area for you should be its proximity to your work.
In general, the farther away you are from work, the higher your transportation costs will be. There can be a trade-off here—housing costs typically decrease as you move further away from major metropolitan areas. The savings on rent may outweigh the extra costs of transportation, and living close to a public transportation line can help further reduce transportation costs.
Consider the Parking Situation
A car isn’t necessarily required when considering how to rent an apartment and where to park. Some neighborhoods like Downtown Seattleor Boston rarely require a car and offer plenty of public transportation options. More suburban areas need a reliable parking situation and could make an impact on what kind of apartment complex you choose.
Think about your comfort level and the type of car you have. 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.
Think About the Amenities
A first-time apartment renter should always prioritize amenities, as well as location. In some areas, apartment complexes come loaded with options like swimming pools, on-site fitness centers, rooftop terraces, and more.
In addition to shared amenities, think about what you want inside of your apartment. An updated kitchen, outdoor space like a balcony, oversized bathroom off the master bedroom, and closet space are all worthwhile amenities to consider.
Consider Which Floor You Want to Live On
The floor you choose in an apartment complex comes with its own pros and cons. A bottom floor apartment may prove cheaper than others, with less legwork to get to the main door and amenities. You also don’t need to worry about a dog or children running around and disturbing neighborhoods below you. However, the views are usually the worst in the building.
Middle floors are often the most popular options and offer consistent temperatures. Heat rises, making top floor apartments hotter. You also end up with decent views. Top floor apartments usually have the best views but are often more expensive to rent and harder to cool down.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to which apartment floor you should live on and depends on your personal preference. To narrow down your choices, here’s a round-up of pros and cons on which is the best apartment floor to live on.
Know the Best Time to Look for an Apartment
If you have some flexibility on when you can move, there are times of the year when apartments are less competitive and less expensive. Rent prices are subject to change based on seasonality, and you can save on rent by being strategic about your search. As a general rule, winter is the least competitive time to look for an apartment and when you can score the best deals. This rule can even apply in warm-weather cities when families are reluctant to move their kids during the school year, college students are busy with exams, and people are busy with the holidays.
Decide your first apartment essentials
Before you dive headfirst into apartment hunting, create a list of everything you want. This may include particular neighborhoods, number of bedrooms, size of square footage, and certain amenities. Lee Williams, a New York licensed real estate salesperson at Level Group, suggests organizing and prioritizing your list into three key areas:
Nice to have, but can do without
Dream apartment features
Have a list. That way you’ll know when you’re ready to compromise and how your budget translates when you go out to experience a new space”.
Depending on what city you’re looking in, consider neighborhoods that are slightly off the beaten path, or just outside of trendier areas. You might get more square footage for your money.
Don’t Forget Renters Insurance
Your landlord might require renters insurance. This insurance protects your possessions in case of an emergency or catastrophe and provides liability coverage for personal injury or property loss. Even if your landlord doesn’t require renters insurance, it’s a good thing to have.
Knowing how to approach finding your first apartment gives you the power to make the best possible decision. You’re going to have pitfalls and plenty of memories to collect along the way — this is still renting, after all. Just remember: The great thing about your first apartment is that it will always be your first.
When you go visit an apartment, pay attention to what you see, and be ready with questions — take nothing for granted. Does the hot water work? Try the faucet. Do the windows open? Is there a second exit in case of a fire?
Sometimes, you may not even meet the landlord — many apartment owners simply list their apartments through a local real estate agent, who handles all the showings and other legwork. Depending on how competitive the rental market is, you or the landlord will have to pay the agent’s fee (usually one month’s rent), though this can be negotiated.
Which Apartments can I Afford?
If there is no elevator, the apartments on the upper floors will be cheaper because most people don’t want to haul groceries up a flight of stairs.
An apartment close to stores and other conveniences will be considerably more expensive than one a little further away from the main street.
In general, a landlord will charge more if you smoke or have pets since there will be more clean-up involved. Smoke- or pet-free apartments might cost a little less for this reason.
Consider the cost of safety. I know that really cheap apartments seem like the perfect place for a broken, young adult, but having things stolen can be really expensive and the cost of replacing stolen items should be considered.