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Renting Your First Apartment? Here's What You Need To Know

Renting your first apartment can be very exciting. You are deciding what place you want to call home and how you will decorate it. You are choosing whether to live alone or with roommates. Selecting the right place can offer you lots of cool amenitie...

Renting your first apartment can be very exciting. You are deciding what place you want to call home and how you will decorate it. You are choosing whether to live alone or with roommates. Selecting the right place can offer you lots of cool amenities. Before you sign on the dotted line with your first place, there are a few things that you need to know. 

Determine your rental budget

Knowing how much you can afford to spend on rent will help you determine which apartments to view and consider. Financial advisors recommend that you spend no more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. This can be determined by using a rent calculator. By limiting rent to 30% of your monthly income, you will have enough money to spend on food, entertainment, saving, and unexpected expenses.

Prepare your apartment application

As much as you are evaluating the landlord's apartment, they are evaluating your ability to pay. Most landlords ask for rental history, proof of income, credit report, references, and social security number. When you request a rental application, call the landlord to ensure that you have all the required documents. 

If you already know that you have poor credit, you may want to take some time for credit repair before applying for an apartment. Start by getting a copy of your credit report and contacting the credit bureau if there are errors. Next, pay off any debts that you can. 

Paying for utilities

It is important to know whether you are responsible for the utilities. Ask the landlord when you tour the apartment which utilities will be included. Read the lease carefully. This is where it will outline what utilities you are responsible for and what is covered by the rent. Sometimes, landlords prefer to be in charge of the utilities to ensure that they aren't shut off due to negligent tenants. 

The deposit and application costs

If you are renting an apartment, you will need to have some money set aside for a security deposit and an application fee. The security deposit is usually the first and last month's rent. The security deposit protects the landlord in case you fail to make a payment. If you are responsible for damage to the apartment, the security deposit will cover the cost of repairs. The application fee covers the cost of evaluating the application and doing a background check. The average rental fee is between $25-50. Every person who will be on the lease usually has to pay an application fee. 

Pet costs

If you're bringing your beloved dog with you to your first apartment, expect to pay a bit more. You may have to pay a pet deposit as well as pet rent. The pet deposit covers the damage that can be done to the apartment by your pet. The rent for pets averages between $10-100 per month. It allows your pet to stay in the apartment with you. 

Moving expenses

The moving costs are not directly tied to renting the apartment, but they should be factored into the cost of moving. Movers can cost hundreds of dollars. New furniture can break the bank if you haven't budgeted for it. Your kitchen will need dishes, spices, Tupperware, cleaning supplies, and other little things. Before you make the decision to move research different moving companies and figure out how much you can afford to move. 

Cost of commute

Moving to an apartment often changes the length of your commute to and from work. Many people move closer to work to cut down on their commute. While finding an apartment closer to where you work will save you time in the car, you often end up paying for it with higher rent costs. It is important to calculate how much the cost of the commute will be. You could save money by moving a little bit farther away, but make sure that you aren't going to end up spending hours on the road with a horrendous commute. 

Parking

In some areas, parking is very limited. It is important when renting your apartment to discover if you have a designated parking spot. Paying for a parking spot can be an additional expense when renting your apartment. In large cities, parking spots can be very expensive. It is a huge financial benefit when a designated spot is included in the rent. 

Amenities

Apartment complexes often offer a variety of amenities including pools and workout rooms. Some even have barbeque pits and playgrounds. These amenities can save you money on the cost of a pool or gym membership. They can also make living at your new place more enjoyable. 

Renting your first apartment is a fun process, but it is important to understand what you are responsible for financially. Read the lease carefully to understand your financial responsibilities and how to get your security deposit back. No one wants to lose a whole month's deposit just because they didn't clean the floors well enough when they move out. 

Avoid Losing Your Security Deposit

Make sure you document the property’s condition before you move in. You can do this by completing a walkthrough with the landlord and taking pictures of the property before you move out. Get written permission for any modifications you want to make to your apartment and ensure you clean your apartment before you move out.

If your landlord doesn't return your security deposit and does not offer a good reason for withholding the money, find out what action you can take in your state.

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