Apartment Hunting Hints
You have decided to move and now you’re looking for a place to call home! You want to be able to find a place where you feel comfortable and affordable. Not sure where to start? Check out our helpful hints and questions to ask potential landlords.
Decide on a Budget
Before looking at apartments it’s best to know what you can afford first. This will save you time and stress. Take some time to research the cost of rent within your area or the area you want to move into. Create a budget with rent, utilities, gas, groceries, and any other expenses you may pay monthly. You may also want to budget in a rainy day fund, this will help with unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical needs.
In addition, create a budget on how much you will be spending on furnishing your apartment.
This includes cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and so much more. You can also consider a roommate to cut costs as well.
Begin to Practice Like You Are Living on Your Own
Get into the habit of having to cook and clean every day. This will help you transition better when you move into your new apartment.
Also, begin paying yourself what you are going to be paying your rent every month. For example, if you are already paying $800 in rent and are looking to move to a new apartment with a budget of $1100. Place $300 in a savings account each month. This will help you save for your security deposit as well as make sure you can afford new rent, before signing a lease.
Never be afraid to ask questions. It is much better to have your questions answered before signing a lease. Once you sign a lease and start paying rent, it is expensive and very time-consuming to change your mind.
It’s best if you create a list and have questions for each apartment you tour. This will be great to compare each place you go to after apartment hunting.
Security Deposits & Extra Fees
Another common question you can ask is how much is the security deposit? Is there an application fee, if so how much?
You will also want to ask if there are any extra fees. An example would be for laundry, garage, or clubhouse rental.
You will encounter some upfront costs and fees prior to renting your apartment. Such as; extra fees to turn on the water, electricity, internet, and more.
Is it covered parking? Is it reserved parking? How far is the parking spot? Make sure you ask about the cost of parking per month.
What does the apartment offer, on-site laundry, pool, gym access, clubhouse? Let’s talk about what are the things that you need? Do you need to be close to public transportation?
Does the apartment have security cameras? Who can access the building? How safe is the neighborhood? If a break-in and entry happen to your car are you able to get access to the security footage? You want to feel safe in a place that you live in.
Drive by the apartment during the day and at night to see the environment when people are home from work. Is there a lot of action going on during the evening? Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable walking around at night or would one of your guests feel comfortable parking and walking to your apartment? More security often costs more money but it may be worth it for peace of mind.
Consider the inside safety too. Are there carbon monoxide and smoke detector alarms? Are the fire escape routes easily accessible?
What is their pet policy? Do you have to pay an extra fee for having a pet in your apartment? Is it a one-time fee or monthly? Are there size restrictions? Some places even want you to have pet insurance!
Prepare All Of Your Documents
Having all of your documents ready for a potential landlord shows that you are organized and serious about the apartment.
The documents a landlord may ask for are; credit history, the status of income, last few pay stubs, references, and identification.
No matter what you absolutely need some kind of credit score to rent an apartment. Depending on the area you are wanting to live in and the policies of the apartment complex, each place is different about how much your credit score will be.
When you decide that you are moving out (12 or more months in advance) Check your credit score. See if it needs improving or are you able to apply for apartments with your credit score. This is also the case for roommates as well.
Read The Lease Carefully
Make sure you take the time to read your entire lease carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra time. This is a legal contract between you and the landlord, confirming that you will be following these rules and regulations.
Your lease list what’s included in the rent, what happens if you break your lease early. How repairs are handled, and so much information is included in your lease that you want to be notified on everything.
Remember to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. In addition, receive the copy in writing and with everyone’s signatures included!