Moving into your first apartment is a pretty big step for most young adults. Maybe you're leaving your parent's house. Maybe this is your first time out of the dorms. If you've never rented an apartment before, the process can seem daunting. So today, we're here to outline the best way to get yourself an apartment and move in one easy step at a time.
Research Local Apartments
The first step is to find out what kind of apartments and price range are available to you. Use websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Apartments.com to investigate local openings. Feel free to filter out anything obviously out of your price range.
Get to Know Your Area
Start just by taking a look around. Find out if apartments in your area tend to be in high-rise buildings, small multi-family buildings, or duplex-style neighborhoods. Then take a look at the monthly rent (and included utilities) for each one. This will give you an idea of what kind of apartments you might be able to rent.
Decide Your Budget
Now think about how much you can afford to spend on rent, utilities, and groceries every month out of your current income. Ideally, your rent should be a third or less of your income to live comfortably.
Take Tours Collect Applications
Of the apartments you like in your income range, don't be afraid to take tours. There may be charming bonuses are surprising deal-breakers that can be easily discovered by a walk through the building. Take notes on your tour and ask to take an application.
Save Up Your Deposit
Once you know approximately the rent you plan to pay, it's time to save up for your deposit. The 'deposit' is a renter's slang term for all the money you need to pay upfront when renting an apartment. This includes first and last month's rent, the security deposit, and any additional fees that come with the apartment.
First and Last
"First and Last" refers to pre-paying your first and last months of rent. First month's rent is paid because you are about to move in. You pay the last months' rent ahead of time so that you don't have to worry about paying on the month you move out. So your deposit starts with two times the rent.
Next is the security deposit. This is a money-promise that you will not wreck the apartment and cause it to need expensive repairs. If there is damage when you leave, the landlord will use the security deposit to cover repairs. But if there isn't damage, you get the security deposit back in full. The security deposit is usually one month's rent again, or a flat sum of $50-$500 depending on the apartment.
Some apartments charge a one-time cleaning fee. The fee pays for the cleaning they will do when you leave before bringing in the next tenant. Check each apartment you are interested in to see if you need to save up for a cleaning fee.
If you are bringing a pet along, you will likely also need to pay a pet deposit. Like the security deposit, this is your assurance that any damage your pet might or might not do will be covered. Know your apartment pet policies and deposit amounts. Be sure to save up to cover the amount if you have a pet.
Rent The Apartment
The next step is to submit your tenant applications and rent the apartment you've chosen. From there, it's just a matter of moving in and paying rent.
Submit an Application
Once you have your deposit funds ready, start submitting applications. It's best to submit to at least three different apartment options, just in case you aren't selected for your first choice. In active communities, apartments can turn over fast. Be sure to double-check local apartment availability before submitting your application.
Pay the Deposit, Sign the Lease
Once an application has been accepted, pay the deposit amounts and sign the paperwork. The apartment is now yours on the "move-in date" listed on your lease. Read the terms of your lease so you're familiar with building rules.
Move With Friends
Finally, you can move into your very first apartment. For most young people, the best way to do this is with the help of friends who are paid in pizza. Moving across town, you can make several trips with your car or a rented moving van. Moving further than that, make sure to plan your arrival with your apartment building manager so they are ready when you arrive with the truck.
Moving into your first apartment isn't as difficult as it seems at the start. With these steps, you should be financially and personally ready to make the jump in a few weeks to a few months.