Know What To Expect Of Your Deposit
Nearly every apartment will have a deposit, especially if you have no rental history. As a first time renter, you should know what to expect of this deposit. How much is this deposit and does it include any non refundable fees? Many times landlords like to lump up non refundable charges with the deposit, so make sure you clarify what is coming back to you after your move.
To protect this deposit, you should take before pictures and completely fill out the move in sheet. Keep copies of everything in a secure location, you can not count on your landlord sharing this information with you once you move out.
Pre Qualify Yourself
Your potential landlord will almost certainly charge an application fee to cover the cost of background checks and paperwork. These are almost always non refundable, so make sure that you will qualify before submitting your application and paying a fee. While $40 might not seem like much, if you have to put that money down at several apartments, it can add up quickly.
Ask for a list of qualifications before putting down an application fee. Among other things, make sure you make enough money to qualify and if you have a pet, make sure they are on the approved list.
Choose A Suitably Sized Space
It is easy to get carried away with the size of your new apartment, but you need money to pay for all that space. Think about how much space you really need and rent accordingly. Also keep in mind that the more space you rent, the more utilities you will have to pay and there will be much more cleaning involved.
On the flip side, if you rent a space too small, you might have to pay for outside storage or a garage space. With apartment garages easily fetching 200 dollars or more, this could be a big expense.
Understand Utility Costs
As a first time renter, you might not be familiar with what to expect from your utilities.
The first thing that you need to do is verify which utilities you will need to pay and if you have to turn them on yourself. Electricity, for example is something that most apartments do not pay for and a service that you will have to register for yourself. Water on the other hand may be included in your rent, may be a service the apartment bills you back for or could be another utility you need to arrange. Be sure to check with your apartment landlord and verify utility information before making the move.
You should also keep in mind that as a new renter, utility companies may require you to pay a deposit. This deposit should be refundable, but it could easily be over 200 dollars per utility company. This can add up quickly,. especially if you were not expecting these charges.
Many apartments are starting to require renters insurance, but if yours does not, you should still consider it.
If something were to happen to your apartment, how would you replace all of your property. Your clothes, furniture and electronics can add up to tens of thousands of dollars and the apartment will take no responsibility. Even if your property is damaged by something that seemingly is the landlords fault, they are unlikely to take financial responsibility.
Luckily, renters insurance is very cheap, with most policies coming in at roughly 10 dollars a month or 120 dollars a year. Cheap protection for your valuable property.
Estimate Your Commute
There is nothing worse than finding out you have an unmanageable commute when you are stuck in a long term apartment lease. Consider your commute before you sign the lease.
When looking at a commute, plan out your route during the time you go to work. Maps has a great feature that estimates the traffic at the time you enter. To use it, simply change “leave now” to the appropriate time. This should give you a fairly accurate estimate of your travel time.
Don’t forget about all the other times that you drive though. Where do you like to shop, dine and entertain yourself. Make sure that you are in a desirable location because having to break a lease is no fun and is not cheap.
Factor In The Amenities
When it comes time to make a decision about which apartment to use, consider the cost savings provided by amenities. Do you currently have a gym membership that you could cancel in favor of using the apartment gym? That could save you as much as 100 dollars a month. What about entertainment? Does the complex feature a sports court, movie theater, pool table or a resort style pool? These are things that you would otherwise have to pay for every month and sometimes they can make even the more expensive apartment a better deal.
Prepare To Move
You might love your area and lover your apartment, but you should always be ready to leave at the end of your lease. What that means is having enough money to pay for another deposit and pay for movers. Why? Because you never really know if you will be able to keep living somewhere.
What would happen if your landlord raised rent to a point that you could not afford? It would be a lot to have the option to leave instead of having to just absorb an unreasonable rent hike. Additionally, the landlord is under no obligation to extend you a new lease. If they decide that it is time to renovate or sell, you might be out on the street, so you need to have some back up money ready to go.