Whether you are a young adult who wants to start living on your own or about to work in a different city, you have to find an apartment where you can live either temporarily or for the long-haul.
Alas, finding that perfect apartment is not an easy thing to do. To make it less daunting, you have to decide first how much you are willing to spend on the monthly rent.
Then, you can start your search base on this amount. Luckily, here’s an ultimate guide for first-time renters like you.
Know where to look for an apartment
If you’re looking for an apartment online, chances are high that you are checking on Craigslist since it’s ubiquitous. But, it’s not the only one. You may also check out other websites such as Rentable and others.
These sites have apps that you can install on your phone and narrow down your options by specifying your preferences according to must-haves and price range. However, these sites do not guarantee that you will be able to find exactly what you need. For example, you will not be able to know if an apartment is too far from the bus stop, something that is very important for a student or someone commuting on a daily basis.
It is best to use an accurate home value guide to help you in terms of determining the accurate value of the property. So, don’t just rely on the estimates that other sites are giving you. Opt for a guide that accurately calculates the real value of the place that you are about to choose.
If you have friends or enough budget to hire a real estate agent, it would be better. If it is not possible for you to visit the place in person prior to signing the contract, at least a friend or an agent can tell you about the advantages or disadvantages of the apartment based on his actual observation or knowledge about the place.
Read the contract
For how long will you stay in your chosen apartment? How much is the penalty for late payment? Can you bring your pet indoors?
What about repairs or changing the color of the wall paint? Is it okay to bring friends for a drinking spree? All these things will be stipulated in the lease contract which goes to say that you have to read it before affixing your signature. Read everything before signing on the dotted line.
Note that the contract is a legally binding piece of the document so if you don’t understand something or is not amenable with a certain portion of what’s written there, better talk this out first with the apartment in-charge.
Otherwise, you will find yourself in a messy situation in case things don’t turn out the way you expected the apartment would be.
Don’t forget to do a walk-through
Another important thing to remember is never to sign the lease contract without doing a walk-through of the inner part of the house, as well as its surroundings. It is only through an actual walk-through that you will be able to get a feel of the atmosphere of the house.
Check for the presence of natural light, the condition of power outlets and the storage spaces. A walk-through can be just a very quick task so you need to be quick as well as making good judgments of whether the apartment has the quality of space suitable to your preferences. A walk-through will also give you the chance to examine the walls and floors of the apartment.
Are there any cracks or peelings? Does the ceiling have watermarks? Is construction necessary going forward?
Pro tip: don’t just rely on the construction estimates that other sites are giving you.
These things are important because they’re not just a sign of water buildup behind the walls. It also serves as a forewarning of the inconvenience that you are bound to experience when the weather becomes unfavorable.
Know what questions to ask
While traipsing all throughout the apartment, you should also be asking the right questions to the landlord or the one in-charge of the apartment. You have to know how old the apartment is and know that the older it is, the more chances you will have of experiencing the inconveniences of having any damaged parts of it.
Check if the toilet, stove, water heater, and air conditioner are all in good condition and not too outdated. You also need to know the average amount of utility bills.
Although you may need to just settle for whatever cable connection they have for your TV viewing, but what is more important is the internet connection. A stable internet connection is crucial whether you are a student or an employee renting the place. You do not want to find yourself shouting in frustration if the internet connection suddenly gets lost when you have to submit a very important report the following day. If you are lucky enough to find the previous tenant, it is better to ask him or her the same questions that you ask the landlord.
Choose the best location
The importance of choosing an apartment in an ideal location cannot be ignored. This is true especially that you are not yet too familiar with the place. But, if you are able to rent an apartment that is close to the most essential services and products that you will need and use on a daily basis, you are lucky. This will greatly spare you from the hassle of spending more hours commuting or traveling just because you need to buy something really important.
It also depends on your preferred lifestyle. If you enjoy driving a mile away when shopping for grocery stores, then you can rent an apartment that is not too close to the city center. But, if you would rather walk than drive, an apartment that is just within the city center, though it may cost a bit more, would be perfect for your lifestyle. So, always check the apartment’s proximity to grocery stores, hospitals, supermarkets and to where you go every day like your school or workplace.
Once you have found the apartment of your choice, secure it as yours by giving a down payment. Generally, a security deposit would be one month’s worth of rent. But, this may vary depending on the property management company or depending on what you and the landlord have agreed. Do not forget that you will be required to submit valid I.D’s, along with your bank statement or proof of income so make sure to have these ready when making reservations.