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Checklist of Things to Know as a First-Time Renter.

Being a first-time apartment renter is an exciting milestone in your life, whether you are leaving your parents’ home, making the move to a new location, or have recently graduated from college. Of course, learning how to rent an apartment entails additional duties and responsibilities and the freedom to select the ideal location. So here’s a checklist of things to know as a first-time renter.

Even the most ambitious and organized first-time apartment renter can get overwhelmed with the process. Although there are certain hassles associated with relocating, such as apartment hunting, agent fees, budgeting, packing, and other issues, it is worthwhile. We created a first-time apartment tenant checklist with all the information you require for a successful move to make the transfer as easy as possible.

Determine Your Budget

It’s common for first-time apartment renters to either overestimate or underestimate how much they can spend on rent and other necessities. According to this article, 25% of your monthly salary should be enough to save up for rent. This means you need to look for ways to cut costs like teaming up with a roommate or creating an income-generating side hustle that can help offset your rent and living expenses.

Choose Your Neighborhood

Narrowing down your dream neighbourhood as a first-time apartment renter can feel daunting. To narrow down your choices, consider the following:

  • How close am I to work?
  • Do I prefer driving, public transportation, or walking?
  • Do I need quiet or want to live in the middle of it all?
  • Is my dream location more expensive than the surrounding neighbourhoods?
  • How far do I want to be from restaurants and attractions?

The more you can narrow down your preferences, the easier it is to settle on the perfect location for you.

Decide if You Need a Roommate

Figuring out how to rent your first apartment can feel impossible if finances are tight. Depending on where you live, renting can prove incredibly expensive. If rent soars above the 25% recommended rule, consider looking for a roommate to split the rental costs. But before you start tapping your network, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of having a roommate and whether or not you’re willing to make compromises along the way.

Once you’ve decided that a roommate is right for you, it’s time to start finding a roommate. Consider what makes a compatible roommate and what kind of lifestyle you want, and what you can’t tolerate. Here are some ideas:

  • Are parties allowed, and if so, how big and how late?
  • Do you need to live with someone excessively clean?
  • Do you care if a roommate comes with a pet? And therefore, will you need a pet-friendly apartment?
  • How long can guests stay, and how often?
  • Whose name will the utilities be in and how will you collect payment from the other?
  • Who will buy the furniture, and who takes it with them if someone moves out?

It’s also important to keep in mind what will make your roommate happy and what kind of conditions they prefer. You can include all of those conditions in your future roommate agreement.

As a first-time apartment renter, a roommate can be a big win. You could end up as lifelong friends, keep your costs down, and enjoy the support and comfort of having someone around.

packing up

Know the Best Time to Look for an Apartment

If you have some flexibility on when you can move, there are times of the year when apartments are less competitive and less expensive. Rent prices are subject to change based on seasonality, and you can save on rent by being strategic about your search. But with the increase in demand, this might be outdated advice as people are almost always searching for apartments. People have said a good time to go apartment hunting is during the rainy season, this way you can identify problems the prospective apartments could have. 

Give Yourself Time to Search

First-time apartment renters may be asking themselves: “How long does it take to find an apartment?” It might take a few months to find the right fit, so start your search early. You don’t want to be forced to rush and then pay outrageous amounts on inspection fees and the like.

Ask Questions during Your Tours

Before signing a tenancy agreement, you need to go on inspections and you need to ask the right questions, read here for a sample checklist. You also need to know details about your tenancy agreement, which you can read here.

Know-How to Spot Rental Scams

Knowing how to rent an apartment on a budget is a challenge, but it isn’t very easy by too-good-to-be-true listings. Knowing how to identify rental scams comes with experience. A first-time apartment renter will be more susceptible to others, and quite a number of people have fallen victim to rental scams. Not sure what to look out for? Use these tips on how to spot and avoid rental scams. 

Budget for All Present Costs and Future Expenses

A first-time apartment renter might not always realize the extent of the upfront costs involved, but it’s good to be prepared for everything that might come your way. Read our tips on how to save up for your rent and other renting costs. 

Upfront expenses are only a portion of the total costs associated with renting an apartment. Other costs may include utilities, repairs, and new furniture.

Gather Your Paperwork

It is not out of place for landlords and property management companies to require specific information from tenants before moving in. This information may include your proof of income, personal references, and, sometimes, proof of your marital status. 

Prepare a Checklist of Essentials for Your First Apartment

Once all of the legwork and paperwork are completed, it’s time to think about furnishing your apartment. As a first-time apartment renter, there are endless details to remember from the living room to the bedroom and kitchen. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Living room:

  • Sofa and pillows
  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Rug
  • Lamp
  • TV+stand
  • Decor

Bedroom:

  • Bed frame
  • Mattress
  • Pillows
  • Sheets
  • Pillowcases
  • Blinds or curtains
  • Nightstand
  • Fan
  • Clothes organizer/rack
  • Trash bin
  • Hangers
  • Shoe rack
  • Mirror

Bathroom:

  • Toiletries
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Soapdish
  • Shower organizer
  • Bath and towels towels
  • Shower curtain
  • Towel bar or hooks
  • Air freshener
  • Bath mat
  • Plunger
  • Toilet brush
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Trash bin
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry basket

Kitchen and/or Dining room:

  • Kitchen table
  • Chairs
  • Placemats
  • Pots and pans
  • Microwave oven
  • Blender
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Glasses
  • Coffee mugs
  • Utensils
  • Colander
  • Baking tray
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Drawer organizer and utensil tray
  • Tupperware
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Dishtowels
  • Dish drying rack
  • Paper towel holder
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminium foil
  • Trash bin and bags

Other:

  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Mop 
  • First aid kit
  • Iron or steamer
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing kit
  • Extension cords
  • Speakers

The list of things to know as a first-time renter is inexhaustible, this is why we have a part 2 here.

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