5 Tips for Renting an Apartment for the First Time

5 Tips for Renting an Apartment for the First Time

So, you’re finally taking the leap and moving out of mom’s basement into your very first apartment.

You’ve got hangers, your TV and gaming gear, that old couch, a table and chairs you found online … you’re set, right? 

Then your mom yells down and says you can use Aunt Gina for a reference. And don’t forget to grab that “important papers” file! Oh, did you print off the paperwork from your employer? 

Apparently, this is going to require more of you than just your good looks. Don’t worry, though — almost 39 million Americans have a similar arrangement, so you aren’t alone. The learning curve isn’t too steep, but here are five tips for renting an apartment.

  1. Create a Most-Wanted Checklist

You are the expert on your life, so you know what would serve you best in a living situation.

Are you apartment-hunting to move closer to work? Are you looking for a quiet place to study for your master’s degree? Do you need a weight room to pump out the daily stress of a commute?

List the top 10 things you want in this next step. Understand, however, that there probably isn’t a place that will tick off every box. If you can find an apartment that meets between 5 and 7 of your needs, though, you should sign the dotted line.

  1. Utilize Online Services

Renting an apartment for the first time can be a little overwhelming, but tech has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run for accessibility.

Rather than combing through newspaper ads, you can search thousands of potential properties in minutes. Companies have created both websites and apps designed to match your criteria with open properties.

Want a 2-bedroom place in mid-town for $500 to $800 per month? There’s an app for that. 

  1. Ask Friends Their Tips for Renting an Apartment

Most people will remember their first rental experience, whether they are your grade school friend to your great uncle.

Think of two to three contacts and reach out to them by text, email, or an old-fashioned phone call. Ask them the questions that will shape your search.

How important were good neighbors in an apartment? Was living by the freeway helpful or just noisy? Listen well and let their answers inform your next steps.

  1. Get Your Paperwork in Order

When it comes time to sign a contract, potential landlords will ask for a variety of documents to verify your identity, income, and potential as a renter. Be prepared with your driver’s license, social security number, and two to three character references.

In addition, you might be asked to show real pay stubs in order to prove your capacity to deliver monthly rent. You can ask your employer to provide these, or you can print them online.

Sometimes a tenet contract will ask for a recommendation from a previous landlord, but “mom” doesn’t count — and would she give you rave reviews? It depends on how well you did your laundry.

  1. Move-In and Move on

You found a place in your price range with six of your most-wanted items, signed the contract, and will be out of the basement by next month. Congrats! Now it’s time to move on to bigger and better things — like which houseplants to bring in.

Remember What You’ve Learned

After you’ve moved in, take stock of what you learned and jot down a few notes. Maybe even write a post you could pass on to your friends when they need tips for renting an apartment.

The next time you have a question, visit our blog for more informative reads.


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