Searching for an apartment as a recent college graduate is tough. Not knowing the ins and outs of apartment hunting can make it difficult to find a place that best suits you or your roommates. Here are some considerations to think about when finding your first apartment!
1. The Price
You want to make sure this is a place you can afford. It is typically advised that your rent should be no more than one third of your income. So if you make $1,500 a month, your rent should be around $500 a month. You may consider creating a budget plan for yourself to help accommodate the right apartment for you. If you plan on living with roommates, make sure you can divide the expenses equally to pay the rent and utilities. Bottom line, make sure you know your market before looking for apartments and negotiating the price.
2. The Location
Before making any decisions, take a look around the neighborhood. Get a sense of the environment and see if it best suits your lifestyle. Ideally, you would want a location with essential shops and services you often use. It is also never a bad thing to take a look at the neighborhood’s safety records and see any incidents that have happened over time. It is better to feel safe since you will be living in this area! You want to feel comfortable.
3. The Lease Terms
Before making any final decisions, go over the lease with a realtor or trusted mentor to make sure there are no surprises later on in the contract. Read it over to make sure it fits all your needs well and be sure to check what type of lease it is. Is it one year, month to month, or 6-month lease? Check to see if it includes when the rent is due, whether roommates are allowed, who is responsible for maintenance, apartment rules, and whether your deposit is refundable. It is not a bad thing to ask all these questions during this process and discuss it with the property manager and get everything in writing.
4. The Quality
I assume you are doing your first apartment search online but, don’t always trust the images they display! It is best to take a tour of the apartment complex with the property manager. Keep in mind when viewing the apartment any cosmetic issues, such as broken blinds, damages on the wall can possibly be fixed by your landlord. However, deeper issues are an indication the apartment hasn’t been properly taken care of. Always look for any health and safety issues, water damage, mold, dirty air filters, rodent/bug problems, and electricity problems.
5. The Landlord
The landlord/property manager can make or break your renting experience. Having a not so great landlord can become a nightmare living in the complex. It is best to try to have a chat with him or her to get to know that person. Or even have a conversation with them on the phone to give you a sense if the relationship with one another will be good. If you are moving in a place with existing roommates, ask them how their experience has been with the landlord to get a taste of what they are like!
6. Gather Solid References
Many landlords/property managers request your credit scores when deciding whether or not to rent the apartment to a potential tenant. As it is the first time renting an apartment, you may not have a credit history so, that’s where your references come in! Having great references can be the key to getting you that apartment. If it is possible, ask your references to write a letter ahead of time, that way you can submit it with your application.
If you are finding a place with roommates or moving to a complex with people you haven’t met before, take the time to meet with them before making any permanent decisions! Chances are they want to meet you as well and discuss the terms of living together. You don’t always have to be together but have respect for one another. Most importantly, make sure your lifestyles are a good match!
8. Your Work Situation
Usually, not many people think this is an important decision to think about but, it is! You will spend most of your time in the office working and will want to clock out to an easy or suitable commute back home. Additionally, take transportation into consideration and view the parking rates for your car. Is there a subway nearby? Would you be able to walk or bike on a weekday morning? We all don’t want to spend countless hours in traffic every single day, so take the time to think about these things when looking!
9. The Amenities
When reviewing apartments, you should consider the amenities that come with the complex before signing the contract. Some may have private gyms, a beautiful pool, and even a game area! At the end of the day, these sorts of things can make your living situation better or even save you some more money. Wouldn’t that be neat? I think so!
10. Take Your Time to Make a Decision
This is a big step in your adult life to commit on getting your first apartment. Which is why you should take your time before making this big decision. You should ideally take at least 24 hours to think whether or not this is right for you and to apply. I always create a pro and con list of the benefits and issues about any big decisions which help me decide what is best for me in the end. Make sure you consider all factors when making a choice. It is going to be your first official home so find what is best for you!