Looking for your first apartment can be exciting, but it can also be intimidating. If you are a first-time renter, you probably have a lot of questions about how to go about finding the perfect apartment, how much you can expect to pay in rent and what you should be looking out for during your search. Here are some tips for first-time renters to help you get started.
1. Know Your Budget
It’s easy to get excited when you see a great-looking new apartment, but it’s important to always keep your budget in mind. Your salary may exceed the requested rent, but don’t forget you will have other expenses, like food, utilities and entertainment. A common rule of thumb is not to take on rent greater than 25 percent to 30 percent of your monthly income.
2. Know the Costs
You also need to be prepared that you’re going to need a lot more than one month’s rent to secure an apartment. Most landlords will ask for first, last and security, which could come out to about three times the monthly rent up front. You may have to factor in rental application fees and credit checks as well.
3. Improve Your Credit
The better your credit score is, the more likely it is that the landlord will approve you to live in the apartment you like. You’ll usually need a credit score of at least 620 to be accepted unless you have great references or a co-signer who has good credit and is willing to take responsibility if you miss payments.
4. Take a Tour
You can learn a lot from pictures of apartments online, but the best way to get a sense of whether or not an apartment is right for you is to get a tour, preferably guided by a professional who knows the property well. There are many things you may miss when viewing a property online that could play an important factor when it comes to making your final decision.
5. Check out the Neighborhood
Remember, you’re not going to be spending all of your time in your apartment. You want to make sure you are going to like your neighbors and the neighborhood. You’ll also want to be certain there are services you need nearby — think entertainment options, grocery stores, doctor’s offices — and that you have access to whatever transportation options you require. You can also go online to see ratings for walkability and crime statistics for the neighborhoods where you are considering living.
6. Get Renter’s Insurance
If the place where you choose to rent does not require renter’s insurance, you should get it anyway. It is relatively inexpensive and can protect you if personal items in your apartment are stolen or damaged. Your landlord’s insurance protects the apartment itself, but not your personal property inside it.
7. Read the Lease
Of course, you are excited to sign your first lease, but be sure to read it first. Find out what your responsibilities are with respect to the apartment and what you can expect from the landlord. If you have pets or plan to get them, make sure you understand the company’s pet policy. It’s better to straighten out any questions or concerns now rather than after you sign and hand over your money.
For more useful information and tips about renting and rental apartments in the Bay Area, contact us today.