Whether you are a newly graduated college student or an adult who is downsizing from a house or townhome to an apartment, there are many things to consider! Here are seven tips for first-time renters.
When setting a budget for your rental pro, you should consider that the average rent should account for about 30% of your monthly income. Now, some cities like New York City and Los Angeles are upwards of 45% of the average monthly income of their residents. We have a little bit more purchasing power here in the midwest. Find a number that you believe you can pay in rent, for an entire locked in year, without living paycheck to paycheck, and with considering other expenses that come along with it like utilities, parking, and moving expenses.
Sometimes doing a practice budget for a few months before you move into your first rental property can help give real-life experience to what your budget will be. First, if you know the range of rent you think you can afford or are willing to pay, start by making sure you are setting that amount aside each month to factor for your future rent. You can then see how much money is in your budget to pay for necessary utilities, groceries, and other expenses. You will want to factor in future utility costs (or if you are saving money there, plan accordingly) as well as parking, public transit, furnishing your new apartment, etc. This can all add up and to practice beforehand can give a better idea of what you can and cannot spend, or what you are willing to give up to rent the property of your dreams.
For the most part, you will always pay a security deposit anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars, to the equal amount of rent. This amount covers any mishaps or damages that may or may not occur during your time renting the unit. When looking for a rental property, it is probably best to plan for paying rent x 2 when you sign the lease. Often advertised as first and last month’s rent to lock you in.
Now, when you have pets, this deposit can increase. If you’re lucky, your rental property will not charge a pet deposit. Cats and dogs are usually ok, and smaller animals without a deposit. That can be a one-time charge when you move in, as a security deposit for the pet. The other instance is a monthly fee added on to rent for a pet fee, anywhere between $50-200. If you have pets, keep that in mind in your search!
Looking for a place to rent can be a full-time job, especially if you are searching online, driving around prospective neighborhoods, calling different
places, and setting up times to SEE them in person. Finding rental listings that offer pictures, and even better, virtual tours are ideal. If you see a place that hits a lot of your marks but doesn’t have good images, video, or either of those at all, make sure you try and get that virtual tour ahead of time. This can help eliminate any prospects ahead of time, so you don’t need to show up without knowing what to expect. You want to be able to do a walk-through on a place that has already caught your eye, and is in your sights as a real option!
Beyond price, size, and location, convenience is a major factor to consider when renting your first property. If you commute for work, how long will your drive be? Is it going to be easy to navigate to the highway? Will you have a parking space, or will you need to park on the street? Walkability is also a factor if you enjoy walking to local parks, restaurants, bars, etc. Is there laundry in the unit, or building? Do you have to pay for laundry? All of these convenience factors that often don’t need to be considered for homes, townhomes, other communities can be deal-breakers for renters. Make sure you factor in those convenience factor pros and cons before jumping into anything!
Lifestyle kind of goes hand in hand with a lot of these tips listed so far, but sometimes making a big move means making sacrifices to lifestyle. If you are a foodie and love to go out to eat, is the place you are looking at close to restaurants? Are the restaurants good? Are there local activities that you enjoy doing? Lifestyle can also be a stylistic thing, and if you like an old school charm, you may not love being in a modern design complex, or vice versa. Make sure whatever property you rent isn’t a sacrifice of everything you love. Just because you are a renter, does not mean your home shouldn’t feel like a home.
When it comes time to review and/or sign the lease, take your time! Make sure you don’t rush through this process. Read through it properly and slowly, fully understanding the terms, and discussing any issues with the landlord or rental company as you go. Make sure you don’t sign it and get surprised down the road with fees for parking, pets, late fees, etc. There’s a lot to cover, and this is your chance to ask questions, suggest changes, and settle the lease terms before you sign your binding contract.
Similar to home owner’s insurance, you can get renter’s insurance to cover any damages or losses due to fire, water damage, theft, etc. that happen on the rental property. Some apartments or rental homes may require renters insurance, which is easily obtained through any major insurance company. Adding it to your existing car insurance policy is as easy as can be, and rates are as low as $10-$20 a month!
Whether you are a first-time renter or a life-long renter, we would love to be a resource for you. Please feel free to contact us anytime for more information and available properties. Send us an e-mail at email@example.com to get the conversation started.