Renting your first apartment is a major milestone in your life. Once you have graduated from high school or college and landed your first real job, it is time to move out on your own and see what the wider world is all about.
You may be excited to rent your first apartment, but that does not mean you have to approach the process with blinders on. It is important to research your options carefully, from where you want to live to what you can afford to pay. Many first-time renters make costly mistakes that can wreck their finances and make life more difficult than it has to be. If you are renting your first apartment, you need to avoid these common first-timer mistakes.
Underestimating Your Startup Costs
The cost of your monthly rent payment is not the only expense you will face when getting started in your new apartment. Many first-time renters underestimate the adjunct costs of apartment rental, and that can leave them behind the financial eight ball right from the start.
You will probably need to put down a security deposit equal to at least one months’ rent. You may also be required to pay a separate apartment deposit or fee, which could be $50 to $100 or more. In addition to those costs, you may need to put down a deposit to start your electric service and other utilities. Be sure to research those costs carefully, and build them into your housing budget.
Not Checking Out the Neighborhood
If rents in a particular neighborhood are much lower than average, there may be a reason for that. Those cheaper neighborhoods might suffer from high crime, poorly performing schools and a plethora of other problems.
You owe it to yourself to check out the neighborhood before you move in. That means walking around both during the daytime and at night, exploring local stores and amenities and talking to current residents. In some cases it might make more sense to live in a better (and therefore more expensive) neighborhood, even if it means living with a roommate or two.
Failing to Thoroughly Inspect the Apartment
Do not assume that everything in the apartment works perfectly. Use your walkthrough inspection to make sure the utilities work and that everything is as it should be. Turn on the kitchen tap and shower and make sure you have plenty of hot water. Flush the toilet to make sure everything is working properly. Turn on the stove and make sure it heats up. The more you know before you move in the better.
Also be sure to check for any damage in the apartment and document what you find. If preexisting problems are not properly documented, your landlord could take the cost of repairs out of your security deposit when you move out.
Not Reading the Lease
The lease you sign on your first apartment is a legally binding document, and that means you are responsible for knowing what is in it. Your eyes may glaze over at all the legalese and confusing language, but it is important to read the document carefully.
Every lease will include some basic information about the property, including its mailing address, the due date for the rent and the length of the agreement. In addition to that basic information, the lease may include clauses that pertain to roommates, pets and other important information. Be sure you understand all the stipulations; you do not want any unpleasant surprises after you move in.
Not Getting Insurance
Many first-time renters assume that the landlord carries insurance on the property, and that is true, but only to a point. The owner of the house or apartment should indeed have insurance, but that insurance covers the property — not your personal possessions.
If you are renting a house or apartment, you need renter’s insurance to protect your personal belongings from theft or loss. Renter’s insurance is typically inexpensive and easy to buy, so there is no reason to go without it.
Avoiding these common mistakes will get you off to a great start in your new apartment. Signing the lease on your very first apartment is a momentous event in the life of every young person. Doing the homework ahead of time and researching everything properly can help make those first apartment memories good ones.