Tips for First Time Renters

On April 15, 2008 by Lauren

Congratulations, you’ve finally gotten around to moving out of your parents’ house and finding a place of your own. You already know what kind of furniture to get and the parties you’ll be throwing every weekend. But before you celebrate, do remember that this is real life and living on your own isn’t just about no longer having a curfew. Here’s some advice you might want to follow so that you can avoid making costly mistakes during first experience out on your own.

Budget wisely

When looking for a place, make sure that your rent doesn’t take up more than 25-30% of your annual salary. Sure, that two-bedroom luxury condo might look gorgeous and impressive but chances are, you won’t be able to afford it. Remember, you have to spend on utilities, food, and other daily expenses too. Look at your income after tax and subtract expenses like food, cellphone/car payments, credit card bills, parking fees, clothing, internet connection, entertainment, etc. Whatever you have left is what you can afford for your new place. Remember that this total includes rent and any other utilities. Make sure your landlord is clear about what else is included in the rent.

Don’t leave out the deposit.

Besides being able to afford the security deposit on the apartment, you might also need to pay a fee to get the utilities hooked up. The deposit is usually equal to a month’s rent. It’s highly recommended that you move in at the start of the mont; if you move in at the middle, you might be asked to pay for the rest of the month’s rent as well as the next month’s full rent. Plan way ahead of time before signing the lease.

Figure out your needs and wants.

When looking for an apartment, figure out what you want and what you need. If you’ll be taking public transport, your apartment needs to be near your office or public transport. Amenities like a pool and a gym are probably things that you might want but not necessarily need. Be prepared to sacrifice some wants in order to get your needs.

Visit the apartment before signing the lease.

Visit the actual apartment unit you intend to rent and make sure that everything from floor to ceiling is in great shape. Inspect all doors and cabinets, and make sure all faucets and pipes aren’t leaking. Watch out for any traces of insects or rodents. Pay attention to any loud noises, especially if they’re coming from your neighbor.

Read the lease thoroughly before signing anything.

Don’t be in a hurry to sign the lease. Take your own copy and read it all throughout, and make sure the information provided there is what the landlord told you. Look for anything your landlord might have failed to mention, like penalties or additional fees. Make sure the lease indicates what utilities and facilities that are covered by the rent and which ones you have to pay separately.

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