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8 Tips for First Time Renters

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Moving out of your Mom and Dad's home and becoming a first time renter is a really big deal. You're on your own, so you can do what you want, whenever you want. The freedom of moving out on your own is exciting, but also comes with a lot more responsibilities. You must first find your apartment, apply to live there, budget for rent and utilities, and move all your belongings to your new place. This won’t be the easiest transition, but the tips below will help make it go a lot smoother.

#1 - Figure Out How Much You Can Afford
This step is something to really think about before moving out. If you don't know how much you can afford, you may end up spending more money on rent than you earn. You have to remember you'll have other expenses as well. After all, you shouldn't have to scrape for pennies when it’s time to pay rent. There is a budgeting technique that can help you figure out your budget for expenses. It’s called the 50/30/20 rule. This rule suggests that you spend 50% of your earnings on necessities like rent, food and utilities. The 30% goes towards hobbies, shopping, and extracurricular activities. The 20% is to help build your savings and pay down debt. By following this technique, it will allow you to map out how much you can afford to spend on an apartment.

#2 - Do You Need a Roommate?
Depending on where you live, rent can cost you an arm and a leg, but having a roommate to split expenses with can really help, and allow you to save more of your income. You don’t just want any random roommate, so do your research and try to get to know them prior to signing a lease together. You have to make sure that you are compatible in terms of cleanliness, schedules, pet preference and especially on partying and having guests over. Keep in mind, having a roommate can be a great experience, especially for your first apartment.

#3 - The Best Time to Search for an Apartment
Figuring out the best time to go apartment hunting can save a lot of money and bring about great deals. Depending on the season you're shopping in, it can greatly affect how much you'll end up paying for an apartment. For instance, applying for an apartment in the winter can help you score some great deals since the demand for rental housing is lower during that time of year.

#4 - Take a Walking Tour of the Apartment
Online virtual tours have definitely made it simpler to tour apartments, but being able to physically view the apartment helps you truly experience the apartment community first hand. You should schedule a tour and get a feel for the layout, see the amenities they offer, see apartment appliances, etc. Be sure to ask questions when you’re on a tour with the property manager. Some great questions to potentially ask are "When are the neighborhood quiet hours?" "What’s the policy on receiving mail for residents?" But also come up with a list of questions that are important to you.

#5 - Know What Utilities are Included
While you're asking the property manager questions, be sure to ask what utilities are included. Some utilities might be included, while others might not. Some utilities might be automatically added into rent payments, and sometimes there are one-time fees such as electricity and cable/internet to your apartment.

#6 - Consider the Parking Situation
The parking situation can play a major part in apartment living because you don't want to worry about parking 5 blocks away just to get to your complex. You should check to see how full the parking lots get at night, and if they have special individual spots and garages for each apartment. At some point you might have guests over to visit, so you should check to see what the guest parking situation is.

#7 - Get Renters Insurance
Renters insurance is great to have when moving into an apartment complex. Renters insurance helps you replace your things if they are stolen or damaged in a fire. The policy also includes personal liability coverage for certain situations and temporary housing if the original space has been deemed uninhabitable.

#8 - Read and Understand the Lease
When it’s time to officially sign the lease, you might be anxious, but more importantly excited to move into your new adult spot! However, it is important to know what you're signing and why you're signing it. Read the contract in its entirety and note any concerns that you might see. If you and the property manager had spoken prior and agreed to something, be sure to note that it's in the lease agreement. If not, they may not be legally required to hold up their end of the deal. The biggest thing to take away from this is to never rush into signing a lease. Make sure you read and know what you're getting yourself into before signing.

Renting your first apartment is a big milestone in your life. It's a very exciting time and one of the first steps to adulthood. By following these tips, it will help minimize some of the overwhelming factors that come with first time renters and help guide you on your way to a brand new place to call your own!

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