Brian J. Roberts is a freelance writer who’s been featured in Forbes, Time, Inc., Entrepreneur, USA Today, CNBC, Huffington Post and others. Click here to read his newest stories.
Getting ready to rent your first apartment can be exciting. But it can also be stressful. It marks the start of a new stage in life; a stage of greater personal freedom. But with that added freedom comes added responsibility. You’ll likely have to juggle several moving parts all at once you’re ready to rent your first apartment, from moving out and signing your first lease agreement to dealing with moving companies, furnishings and much more.
Not to mention finding the best place to move.
Thankfully, the question of “how to rent your first apartment” isn’t too difficult to answer anymore, given the volume of publicly-available information on the process. Growella, a financial education website for millennials, sifted through all this information and outlined the key steps involved to help make your first rental experience as stress-free as possible.
Here’s what it boils down to:
- Finding a place to rent
- Signing your lease / rental agreement
- Being a good tenant
- Moving out of your rental
And it’s really as simple as that. Let’s start with step one.
Finding the best place to rent
Since rent is typically due on the first of the month, you’ll have to carefully decide how much you can dedicate to it. Income levels, number of financial commitments and responsibilities vary greatly from person to person, so no one-size-fits-all calculator will work here. A popular standard is to set aside $300 in rent for every $1000 you earn in a month.
So, if you make $3000 a month, a comfortable rent payment would be anywhere from $900-$1200 a month, depending upon your other bills and commitments. For higher cost cities, seek out roomates. And remember, always tour your potential rental and ask questions, because online photographs and reviews only tell a portion of the full story.
Signing your agreement
Lease and rental agreement can be scary document to look at but they mostly boil down to this: your landlord provides you with a place to live, and you provide your landlord with monthly checks for rent. That’s it. Everything else will boil down to provisions, like rights to have a pet in the house, end your lease early or paint and replace fixtures.
Beyond that the two most important sections will be how long your rental contract lasts and what your security deposit is. The former will dictate how long you can live there and the latter is to cover damages beyond typical wear-and-tear after you’ve moved out. Typically the cash outlay required is twice your monthly rent (but sometimes more if you have pets).
Other sections you’ll want to check out will involve: who pays for heart, electric, internet and utilities. Some charge for this, others don’t. You’ll also want to see if/what your grace period is in the event you miss a payment or end up having to pay late. And last, you’ll want to see who is responsible for repair costs in case something breaks.
Here’s a tip: see if your landlord will accept credit card payments. Sure, you can pay your rent with a check or set up direct debit, but if you really want to be savvy you can pay with a rewards credit card every month and earn cash back on your rent cost. After you’ve signed the agreement, do everything in your power to keep your landlord on your side.
Being A Good Tenant and Moving Out
The best rental experiences are those that are drama-free and positive. If you show respect and be open about concerns, you’ll have a strong reference for future rentals plus flexibility in case a payment is late or any other matters. This means keeping the place tidy, treating it like you own it and giving advance notice when you plan to leave. Always document the condition of your apartment on both move-in and move-out day to ensure you get your security deposit back. It will take a few minutes to document but could save you thousands down the line.