How to Rent Your First Apartment Guide

Kyle Hiscock

Kyle Hiscock | Re/Max Realty Group

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How To Rent Your First Apartment Guide
How To Rent Your First Apartment Guide

What to Know About Renting a First Apartment

Are you considering going out on your own and renting your first apartment?

Living on your own for the first time is certainly going to be an exciting time. But, when you are renting an apartment, there are a few things you need to know about beforehand.

Some of these apply whether you are choosing to rent an apartment or a house.

Let’s take a look at how to rent an apartment and the stages you have to go through.

Understand Your Apartment Budget

Similar to buying your first home, before you rent an apartment, you need to know how much money you have to spend on it. There can be more expenses involved than you might initially expect, and you don’t want to find yourself running out of cash just a few months into renting an apartment.

You have to consider not only the rent, but there are also utility bills, internet or cable costs, and insurance to pay each month. There are also several other fees to pay upfront when renting an apartment. This includes your moving costs, security, and pet deposits, as well as cable installation fees, and more.

You also need to consider if you have to buy furniture and add that to your budget. There are some websites or apps that can help you budget to give you a better understanding of what your costs will really be.

Create an Emergency Fund

There will always be unforeseen things that happened, and if you don’t have the money to cover the costs, there could be problems. Make sure you put some savings aside that you don’t spend for other reasons. You should have at least three months in reserve in case of some kind of financial emergency.

What do you Want From an Apartment?

Once you know how much you can afford to spend on rent for your new apartment, you can begin to think about what you want. Include all of the things you would like to have in your first apartment, though realize you will have to make compromises on some of them. Finding an apartment that has everything you want can be challenging, especially if you are relocating to a popular city or suburb.

How large would you like your apartment to be, and how many bedrooms do you require? What location would you like to live in? What kitchen appliances would you like? Do you need pets to be allowed in the apartment? Do you need parking available or would you rather have public transport access?

These are just a few of the questions you need to know the answer to before you look for an apartment. It will help you narrow down your search, so you spend less time looking at unsuitable homes. There are many tips to follow when renting for the first time. As a first-time renter, it can help get as much advice as possible from friends and family who have been around the block.

Finding Your Desired Location

One of the most important decisions you have to make about your new apartment is its location. You have to consider how far you will have to travel to work and if the neighborhood has all the amenities you will need. Will it be close enough to your friends and family? Is it considered a healthy neighborhood to live in? What is the crime rate like? These are the kind of questions that are worth getting acceptable answers to.

Apartment Tours Are Important

Guide to Renting Your First Apartment
Guide to Renting Your First Apartment

Once you have narrowed down your apartment choice, you can arrange to go on tours of the homes you like. While you might have looked closely at the photographs of apartments for rent, it won’t tell you the whole story. You need to tour the apartment and also make sure that the neighborhood is what you expect.

If you are a more social person, you will want to find an apartment where the people seem more friendly. But you may not want an apartment where you know too much about your neighbors; when you tour the apartment, listen for sounds from neighboring homes.

During your tour, you should try to check everything is working as it should. Check the locks on windows and doors, flick the light switches, and make sure the faucets work well. Turn on the appliances if you can, and if something isn’t working, ask the manager if it can be replaced or repaired. Make sure that there are enough power outlets, and check your cell phone reception.

Which direction do the windows face, and how much light will they let in. Larger windows will flood your apartment with more sunlight that will have a positive effect on your mood.

Be on the lookout for signs of water leaks or pests. If the floor isn’t completely flat, it could indicate that there was previously a water leak.

Is there an elevator, or will you have many flights of stairs to walk up with your groceries? Find out the parking situation for you and your guests and check the amenities available to you in the building. Ask the manager if they can give you an idea of the typical utility costs to check your budget is accurate.

If you have a few apartments to look at on the same day, it can be difficult to remember what you liked and didn’t for each apartment. Take some notes about the good and the bad you found during your tour, so you avoid confusing the apartments.

Understand Rental Applications

When you have found the apartment that is right for you, you need to fill out the rental application. You will need some valid identification, recent bank statements and pay stubs, social security card, and referral letters if you have them.

If you don’t have much credit history, you might need a co-signer. Your co-signer will give the landlord more confidence in taking you on as a tenant.

Know The Lease Contract

Once you have passed the application approval stage, you need to sign the lease and plan to move in. You need to read through the lease very carefully and understand all of the sections. The contract is a legal document that you have to take seriously and stick to.

Make sure you understand your responsibilities, like when the rent is due and how you should pay for it. Ensure you are aware of any fees that you might have to pay, like late fees if you miss your rental payment day.

Make sure you know the rules for things like guests, pets, and parking. And be aware of the decorating policies for the apartment. If you are happy with everything, you can sign the lease. But if you’d like to change something, they might be willing to compromise.

Making the Move

With the lease signed, you have to get ready to move in. This might mean enlisting help from friends or family, renting a moving truck, or hiring movers. You will also need to get packing materials and pack.

Once you have moved in, it isn’t time to relax just yet; you have a housewarming party to organize!

Final Thoughts on Renting an Apartment

Renting an apartment for the first time is a big step in one’s life. It takes a lot of due diligence to make sure you’re going to be happy when you choose to live. Make sure you spend adequate time doing the research necessary to make you feel comfortable. It will be worth your time when all is said and done.


About the author: The above article on “How to Rent Your First Apartment Guide” was written by Bill Gassett. Bill has been working in the real estate industry for the past thirty-three years. He works for RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton Massachusetts. Bill loves providing trustworthy information to buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make the best possible decisions. His writing has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, Today.com, Credit Sesame, and others.


About Rochester’s Real Estate Blog: Rochester’s Real Estate Blog is owned and operated by Kyle Hiscock of the Hiscock Sold Team at RE/MAX Realty Group.  With over 40 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.

We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.

© 2020, Kyle Hiscock. All rights reserved.

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