Renting your first apartment or home can be an exciting, liberating, and stressful experience all at once. While your aspirations of independence may be finally coming true, there are several things to consider before you make the leap and “leave the nest”. Here are four tips to get you off on the right foot.
1. Know your budget:
A typical rule of thumb is that your rent payment shouldn’t exceed more than 30% of your monthly income, and less doesn’t hurt. The amount you will need to pay for utilities every month needs to be considered as well, whether it’s a flat-rate or usage-based. It’s also all-important to keep in mind all the upfront expenses that come with moving into a new home or apartment, such as the security deposit, application fee, parking permit fee, deposits for utilities, furniture, and/or anything else that you may need to pay for.
2. Read and understand the lease:
Do yourself a favor and never skim the lease agreement. Don’t ever feel rushed and be sure to read through it thoroughly, making notes of anything that concerns you so that you can ask the landlord about it. This is a binding agreement between you and the landlord and once you sign it you will have to stick to it for the length of the agreement. Be sure to look into things such as potential rent increases, subletting guidelines, and guidelines regarding pets.
3. Set up utilities in advance:
Be sure to know exactly which utilities you are going to be responsible for as well as which ones your landlord is going to be responsible for, if any. Let’s say you’re responsible for water and electricity, you should call at least a week in advance to make sure that these will be ready by your move-in date. Otherwise, you may move into an apartment without electricity or start off on the wrong foot with your landlord as he/she will still be footing the bill.
4. Get renters’ insurance:
Many places will require you to purchase renters’ insurance before you move in. Even if they don’t, it’s still a must. Your landlord’s insurance will not cover any of your personal belongings, so renters’ insurance is your only option for protection in the event of fire or theft. Fortunately, the average cost of renters’ insurance is roughly $12 a month for $30,000 of property coverage. It’s important to keep in mind that if you have roommates you may need to get separate policies.