You’re planning on moving out on your own. That’s exciting, but it can also be a little scary. You want to make sure you make the right move and can handle all of the new responsibilities and expenses that come with having your own place. So what should you do before getting an apartment for the first time? Read on to get all the information you need.
What Should You Do Before Getting an Apartment for the First Time
There is a whole lot that you should do before you move into your first apartment. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary as long as you take it step by step.
Here are the most important tasks you need to handle before the big move.
1. Determine All Of Your Expenses
Before you move, you need to determine what all of your expenses will be.
You’ll have a lot more than rent to be concerned about.
Don’t forget all of your utilities such as:
- Cable or Direct TV
Most apartment buildings pay for water, sewage, and garbage, but not all of them do.
Be sure to find out, so you can add any of those expenses to your list.
You’ll also have other expenses such as:
- Renter’s insurance
- Paper products
- Personal hygiene items
- Cleaning products
- Misc expenses
You want to make as comprehensive of a list as possible.
Also, don’t forget security deposits. Most apartments will require one that equals one month’s rent. It is a one-time expense, but it can be a lot of money.
Some places will even require the last month’s rent as well, so moving in can be very expensive.
When I lived on the beach in Florida, my rent was $800 per month. I had to give them first, last, and a deposit, so I had to come up with $2,400 dollars the day I moved in.
2. Create a Budget
Now that you know all of your expenses, make a budget.
Determine what your take-home income is and make sure it is more than what your monthly expenses will be.
If it’s not, you’ll have a problem.
You might need to find a smaller, less expensive apartment or get a roommate to share expenses.
3. Save Up Money for the Move
This might go without saying, but long before you make the move, you need to start saving money.
Not only will you need this money for the actual move, but you will also want an emergency fund in case something happens and you can’t pay your rent.
Having an emergency fund equal to three months’ worth of your expenses is a good place to start.
You never know when your car will break down or you get sick and end up in the hospital or even lose your job.
This emergency fund will keep you in your apartment and help you pay the rent on time while you are getting things worked out.
4. Determine all You with Need to Buy
Will you need to buy furniture or bedding or towels and dishes?
Make a list of everything you will need in your new apartment.
Hopefully, you will be able to bring some of these items from where you are currently living to your new place.
Some you can do without for a while and buy them as you have the money.
But, you’re going to need a bed and something to sit on and something to eat on at the very least.
You will need to add the money you need to buy all these items to your savings before you move.
Keep in mind, you can find a lot of what you need at thrift stores and consignment shops.
Buying second-hand will save you a lot of money and will help decrease your upfront cost of moving.
5. Check on Renter’s Insurance
Some landlords will require you to have renter’s insurance and some don’t.
Even so, you should get it.
Your landlord’s insurance does not cover your possessions or any liability you may have if damage is done to the apartment.
Renter’s insurance isn’t very expensive, so get it and rest easy at night.
6. Check Out the Area Durning the Day and at Night
Once you have found an apartment you like, be sure to visit the area and apartment complex during the day and at night.
You may find the place is quiet during the day but then after the sun goes down it turns into a party place and is very loud.
You may not mind that, but you want to be sure before you rent.
You’ll also want to see whether or not the area is safe at night.
Some places are fine during the day, but being outside on the street at night by yourself might be dangerous.
It’s best to know before you rent.
You’ll also want to find out how close public transportation is to your apartment as well.
7. Consider a Roommate
Moving out on your own for the first time is a big deal.
If it feels a little too scary or overwhelming or you are worried you won’t be able to make ends meet, then consider getting a roommate.
If you find the right person, not only will you have someone to help with the monthly rent, but you might end up with a little emotional support as well and maybe even a new friend.
8. Check Out the Parking Situation
Does the apartment come with an assigned parking space or do you have to fend for yourself?
What if you have friends over? Where can they park?
Or does it only have on-street parking?
While this might not sound like a big deal, trust me, it is.
People go crazy over parking, so you want to make sure you will have somewhere to park that is close to your apartment and safe.
9. Understand the Lease Terms
Don’t blindly sign the lease.
You want to be sure you understand all the fine print.
Ask someone else to read it for you if that helps.
You don’t want to agree to anything without realizing it.
The terms of when you pay rent, how much you pay, when or if you will receive your deposit back, and how much notice you need to give before moving should all be spelled out as well as any additional costs to rent the apartment.
Also, check out their pet policy as well.
Many apartments won’t take pets or dogs.
Some will but will require an additional pet deposit.
Others will also increase your rent for each pet.
The bottom line is that rental applications shouldn’t be signed until you fully understand them.
10. Be Prepared for Deposits and Downpayments
As I mentioned before you will most likely have to put down a security deposit to move in.
You may have to put this down when filling out the application or when you move in. It will depend on the property and the property managers.
You may also need to pay deposits for your utilities as well.
These can be hundreds of dollars. This will be determined in part by your credit score.
Both property managers and your utilities will run a credit check to determine your credit and monthly income.
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11. Work on Your Credit Score
If you don’t have any rental history and your credit isn’t very good it can be really difficult to rent an apartment.
You want to make sure your credit score is as good as possible before looking for an apartment.
You can get a free credit report once a year. Check it out to see how it can be improved.
12. Pay Off Debts
Having your finances in order before you move will help put you at ease as well.
As a first-time renter, it will also make it easier to meet all your rental costs and monthly costs as well.
Do what you can to pay off any debts you may have before you make your move.
13. Be Sure Your Job is Secure
The last thing you want is to sign a rental agreement and be on the hook for a year’s worth of rent just to lose your job and not be able to pay.
Before you move, make sure your job is secure.
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To Sum it All Up:
Moving into your first apartment is exciting, but there is a lot to do beforehand. Make sure you understand your expenses and responsibilities before you sign on the dotted line and move into your new apartment community. Save as much money as possible before you move into your perfect apartment and you will enjoy the experience without the stress.