It’s a big day in anyone’s life when they move into their first apartment. However, no one just up and one day moves into one. It takes a lot of strategic pre-planning and budgeting because if all goes well, you’re establishing good credit. If it doesn’t, late rent or an eviction is something that can stay with you for years to come. That’s not to scare you. It’s simply to encourage you to do as much preparing as you can so that you can enjoy your first apartment with total peace and no regrets.
Here Are The Top Five Tips For Your First Time Moving Out:
Check Your Credit
9.5 times out of 10, the person that you’re going to want to rent from is going to check your credit and so you might as well before they do. There is a bit of a catch twenty-two here. If this is your first time moving out into an apartment, this might also reflect the fact that you don’t have a lot of past credit history and so while you don’t have any “bad” credit, no credit can be looked upon as being something similar. If this is the case, you can build your credit by getting a prepaid credit card, making purchases and paying them off immediately. You might also want to get a couple of bills in your name to establish payment history as well. However, if time is of the essence, there are landlords that do show some mercy in these matters. They’re usually not commercial property companies, but personal owners. Craigslist is a good place to start looking for people who are willing to work with you even if your credit is not the best (or the most active). Be prepared to pay a steeper security deposit (in most cases), though.
Plan a Budget
Creating a budget will help reduce your stress by making sure you’re financial ready for your first time moving out. If this is your first apartment, then this is probably your first time paying for a series of monthly bills. Water, electricity, cable and food are not luxuries, they are necessities. This means that you have to make sure that you allot enough every month to cover these expenses. When it comes to the electricity, bear in mind that in extreme cold or heat, the bill will fluctuate (you actually might want to put aside $100 extra bucks in the summer and winter months to cover it).
Like pretty much everything else in this world with a price tag, apartments also have deals going on. Therefore, it’s best to not just go with the first one that catches your eye or works within your budget. If you’ve decided that you want to check out some Upper West Side apartments for rent, do your research: which ones have the most amenities, how much is the security deposit, which ones are close to subway or bus routes as well as cleaners and grocery stores? Also, if you can, try and speak with a tenant or two to get an understanding on what the noise levels are like and if there is staff available to tend to the property in a timely manner. Never look for an apartment like you don’t have options. You always do.
Check Your Lease (and check it twice)
There are a lot of people who find out some things the hard way about their rental agreement because they didn’t read the fine print. For instance, if you are going with a private renter and the lease says “as is”, this means that repairs that aren’t major, they are not liable for (so also do a thorough inspection of the property that you’re renting before signing). Another thing to review is if rent is due on the last day of the month or the first and how much grace you are given to actually turn it in (some places give 5, others may give as much as 10). And, if you’re thinking it’s a place where you’ll want to stay for a while, also be sure to check out what it says about renewing your lease. Plus, if you want to leave after a year, get some clarity on when your security deposit will be refunded to you (something that a lot of people forget about discussing).
Don’t Pay Out-of-Pocket For Repairs
One of the biggest differences between paying rent and paying a mortgage is that when you’re renting property, it doesn’t belong to you. So, when the refrigerator breaks down, the faucets stop working or there are electrical or plumbing issues, they are not your (financial) concern; they are your landlord’s. My first time moving out, I made the mistake of paying for repairs out of pocket. When there is an issue with your place, notify your landlord. If it’s dire, most state tenant laws make it mandatory that a landlord check out the problem within 24 hours with up to a few days to make the repair. Don’t allow your landlords to cause you to think that you must pocket the expenses. At the very least (with a private owner), work out an arrangement where if you do pay for it (keep all receipts), they will either reimburse you or take it out of the next month’s rent.
Being prepared for your first time moving out will help make this a great experience!