What You Need To Know When Renting For The 1st Time

by - April 21, 2015

 It was exactly 8 1/2 months ago today, that I moved out of the safe nest of my mothers' house and into my own new space. An apartment that was all my own; full of exciting yet scary new experiences. At the time, when I moved out, I was 25 years old (yes, I was a late bloomer in regards to leaving home), and while yes, it was exciting to finally be living on my own and having independence, it was also a scary time for me because as all 20 somethings know, you're very unsure of yourself at this age and a common thought that you have is, am I ready for this? I now have my answer: Yes and No.

Let me explain. In a sense, no one is ever ready for such a big change to their life. I mean, think about it, up until this moment you've spent your entire life being fed, clothed, and protected by your parents, so you can't even begin to fathom all the responsibilities you're about to take on. But by the same token, it's important that you do it now instead of waiting because the reality is, you'll never be ready. Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood is not easy for anyone and the only way to learn is to go through it. Make mistakes. That is the catalyst of adulthood.

The Basics......

I've only been living on my own for a little under a year, but I've learned so much in such a short amount of time and I want to pass on what I've learned to someone who may be renting for the first time and might benefit from it. Whether you're renting an apartment or a home, there is definitely something to take away from this.

1. Plan in advance. 

When I moved out of my mom's house last year it was partly my decision and partly because she sold her house and was moving in with her fiance. Obviously, I couldn't move into a house with her and her fiance, so I needed to find a place right away and I mean RIGHT AWAY. The house had sold and we had a month to move out. This was in late July of last year, so you can probably image how much of a pinch I was in. Every apartment building I checked on didn't have anything available until 2 months later. What!?!?! I finally found one that wasn't within my budget but had to choose it anyway because I needed a place to stay right away. (don't ever do this please)

Make sure when you do go apartment hunting, that you plan months in advance so you have more options. You don't want to be scrambling at the last minute like I did.

Ex. You need a place in September....... start looking at the first of June. Trust me, this is the best way to do it. 

That way when you call around, you can ask the leasing agent when their next availability is and can plan accordingly.

2. Get whatever suits your current situation.

Don't get an apartment on the first floor if you have a baby or are a light sleeper. It's inevitable with ANY apartment you live in, that you will be able to hear people above you. My apartment buildings' walls are paper thin, so you can hear footsteps above you. So say someone gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. You can hear their footsteps pretty clearly. If you have a baby or are a light sleeper, this will make things difficult for you. And you can't expect someone to not get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom IN THEIR OWN APARTMENT.

If you're going to live in an apartment building with 3 or more floors, the best solution to that problem is to choose the top floor.

3. Be aware of how safe it is.

When I scrambled around to find an apartment at the last minute, I did find some cheaper options than the one I'm living in now, but thankfully after talking to a friend found out they were in a bad neighborhood. If you're living on your own or have kids this is crucial, because although it may seem like a nice apartment complex, it could have a bad track record.

Two that I found and was interested in had drug dealers and shootings on record. TWO. Thank God I had someone tell me about it.

4. Make sure you have enough money saved up.

Until I started looking for the first time last year, I had no idea how expensive renters' costs were for an apartment.  These for instance:

  • Security Deposit- where I live (Alabama), it's usually the first month's rent plus half the cost of the first months rent. Mine was $1252 (including the pet deposit)

  • Pet Deposit + Monthly Pet rent - If you have a pet like me, you'll almost always have to pay a deposit and/or pet rent. My deposit was $250 and monthly pet rent is $25.

  • Water - Depending on your apartment building's policy you may have to pay water separately. Mine is around $30- 40 a month. (but it's included in the rent)

  • Power - You may also have to pay your power bill separately. Mine is around $50 a month and it's not included in the rent.

Keep all of these costs in mind and form a budget based on how much money you're going to spend each month on extra things like groceries, gas, internet, etc.. in addition to your rent and utilities.

This one should be priority......

5. Research the apartments' history.

What I mean by this is, make sure the building doesn't have a lot of complaints such as not promptly fixing maintenance issues, bug problems, unprofessional staff, etc. I went to Apartment Ratings just out of curiosity to see what other people thought about their apartment buildings' and was shocked at some of the issues a lot of people were having. There were some nightmare stories that I read and I'm just glad I have the place I have now even if it might be a little expensive for me. Hey, you get what you pay for right?

Apartment Ratings (not getting paid to say that I promise) is a great tool for you to use if you want to check out an apartment's background before renting. Keep in mind, though, there will always be a few bad ratings even if an apartment is a good one. It's really about weighing the ratio of good to bad reviews. That's how you know whether you should go with it or not.

So, those are my tips if you're renting a place for the first time. I will update you with another post later if I think of anything I left out. I hope you found this helpful and I just want to leave you with one more piece of advice. Be proactive in your search for an apartment because this is where you're probably going to be living for the next year. You don't want to end up in one of those nightmare scenarios I mentioned above.

What are your 1st-time renter tips? What was your 1st renting experience like?

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  1. These are all helpful tips and I wish I had them when I was renting my first apartment. Would have saved myself a lot of grief!

  2. awesome tips to share! After renting my first apartment (I'm 26 and just did it for the first time after renting rooms for years), I can definitely say these are all good tips! I would also say to research the apartment reviews online, if it's older to check for issues and see what their maintenance is willing to do about them, what counts against you once you're ready to move out (paint, holes in the wall, etc) so you can determine what you want to do or not do while you live there, and also meal prep and plan because having a stockpile of food is important lol

  3. Great post! Very true.

  4. Thanks Tianna! I think that reading reviews online is a big one because you don't want to be stuck in a bad situation for a year! :)