You never forget your first apartment. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your experience. We want to help you make the best of it. It’s a big deal renting for your first time, so let’s dive into how to make it great.

 

Budget

From our Budgeting Toolkit lesson all about housing, we learned that your rent should ideally be 30% of your income. The 50/30/20 rule of budgeting helps you make sure you’re allotting for expenses, fun, debt, savings, you name it. Remember when you look to budget for rent to include any utility costs not included in the actual rent. It’s also a good idea to start early, before you even start searching, to save up for a security deposit and any pet deposits. Remember, most apartments also charge extra rent per month for a pet. You’ll need to factor this into your budget as well. Also, shop around for renters insurance. This will be another cost to factor in. Will you have a monthly payment or is this something to pay annually? This can also impact your budget.

 

Determine What Fits Your Needs and Lifestyle

Before you get into your first apartment, you’ll have to begin the search. Consider what is important to you. Do you need to be close to public transportation? What would your commute driving look like? Do you have pets or children? What amenities can you live without and which ones do you absolutely want?  

 

It’s a good idea to also drive around any particular apartments you have your eye on. What is the neighborhood like? Ask about what parking is like for not only yourself but also any visitors you may have. It can also be important to ask about the mail situation, for example, does UPS deliver to the building. Is mail delivered in secure lockboxes? Take a look at any online reviews as well to see what other renters’ experiences have been like. These are important factors to consider to ensure you’re not miserable in your new place.

 

Protect Yourself and Your Assets

Once you find the apartment you are looking for, it’s time to sign the lease. Make sure to really look over the lease and ask any questions you may have beforehand. Make sure any agreements are in writing to ensure it’s legally binding. It’s also important to get renters insurance. This protects not only your apartment but also yourself and your belongings. Most apartment buildings require renters insurance. 

 

To protect yourself further, make sure to be thorough in your move-in walk-thru. Take pictures and write down anything you notice that may need to be addressed. This can help prevent you from having to pay for any repairs upon moving out if it’s something you actually noticed upon moving in. 

 

Prepare For Move-In

Are you set up for move-in day? You can find many online checklists that can help you ensure you have everything covered. Make sure you have your essentials.

 

Examples:

Cleaning essentials such as cleaning sprays, rags, trash bags, paper towels, etc. 

Moving equipment such as boxes, tape, scissors, tie-down straps, dollies, etc. 

Bathroom essentials such as toilet paper, shower rod, shower curtain, shower curtain hangers, toilet bowl scrub brush, plunger, etc. 

 

Do you need to buy any furniture before moving in? What about blankets, sheets, towels, and curtains? The small things can be easy to overlook. No one enjoys the midnight surprise of finding out they’re missing something. So make sure to plan ahead.

 

Get Cozy

Now the fun part begins once you’re all moved in. Make the space yours. Hopefully, you’ve thoroughly read through the lease and any community/tenant rules. This can alert you to any prohibited decorating. For example, do they allow you to hang with nails or do you need to use Command Strips? If nails are not allowed in your decorating, look for temporary alternatives. Command Strips can be a great resource if allowed by your property management. Speak with your landlord before attempting any permanent changes.

 

It can be important to also get to know your neighbors. Being on friendly terms with the neighbors can make apartment living easier. For example, instead of having late-night noise surprises, you could alert each other about any guests coming over. Always remember though to be mindful of any quiet hours set out by your lease.  

 

These are just a handful of tips to help you make the best of your first apartment. It’s important to take your time searching and make sure you’re prepared. It’s a big deal renting your first place and it can be a great experience so long as you prepare yourself.

 

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