Finding a new apartment can be an exciting, but stressful time. If you’re looking to rent your first place out of college or are relocating to take a new job, you’ll want to keep your budget in mind before you start apartment hunting. What you pay in rent can be one of the largest bills that you’ll owe each month, so we wanted to share a few tips to help you make the transition smooth. Here are six things to keep in mind when looking for a new apartment:
1. Set Your Monthly Budget
Many people make the mistake of starting to shop (for anything) before they figure out how much they can afford to spend – don’t be that person! Our President, Warren Taylor, suggests that you should only spend 20-30 percent of your gross monthly salary on housing. We have a handy Home Budget Analysis Calculator that can help you figure out how much you can allocate.
Once you figure out how much you can spend, only look at apartment that are within your target range. Ideal Properties Group suggests being honest with your broker about your budget so they can work with you to find the best option. It will save you both time and frustration in the end. They suggest figuring out your must-haves and what is negotiable to you. You may be able to forgo getting central air conditioning but may not want to live without a washer and dryer on site.
2. Use Your Resources
There are many resources available to help you with your search, both offline and online, including online databases, real estate agents, newspapers, government agencies and more. Here’s some to get you started:
- MyNewPlace – Their mission is to empower you with the most authentic property info and tools to help you find your new place.
- ForRent – Check out various property types, property listings with videos, virtual tours and photos of apartments around the country.
- Zillow – An easy to use interface with listings of over 110 million U.S. homes – including homes for sale, homes for rent andhomes not currently on the market.
- PadMapper – Their tagline says it all, “Making Apartment Hunting Suck Less.” Put in your budget and criteria and get your search on. You can also set up email alerts to let the listings come to you.
- HUD Rental Assistance – Government resources to help lower-income tenants find subsidized housing.
- Check the community bulletin boards in your local coffee shop or community gathering place to get some leads.
- Pick up your local newspaper or apartment guide near the location you’d like to move.
- Find an awesome real estate agent to help you with your search and send listings to you.
3. Save by Renting Smart
There are ways to cut down on the cost of rent – but you need to be willing to make some sacrifices. Let’s say you just landed a job in the big city but are finding that the rent is too damn high! (We couldn’t resist that one!) In order to make ends meet, you may need to find a pad that’s located just outside of the city in the suburbs. You may also be able to save on rent by renting off-season (for your city) or subleasing. Most people move into new apartments between May and September according to rent.com, so if you’re looking for a deal, aim to move in during the winter months.
4. Spread the Word
We live in a social media world – so why not use that to your advantage? Post to your social pages that you’re looking to find a new place. Tell your family and friends that you’re on the lookout for a new apartment to uncover some unadvertised deals. Many landlords want to find a quality tenant and would be more willing to take a chance on someone that’s referred to them from someone they trust verses a stranger.
5. Set a Realistic Timeline
Our friends over at Ideal Properties suggest setting a realistic timeline, if possible. They say that’s it usually easier to find your ideal apartment is you have more time to spare before your move.
6. Your Credit Score
Our last tip is to make sure to clean up your credit before you start your hunt. Many landlords will pull a credit report to determine your creditworthiness. And yes – our friends over at NerdWallet mention that these types of credit inquiries are hard inquiries which may affect your credit. If you need to improve your credit score, check out our blog post, The 411 on Your Credit Score, for some tips.
Moving can be a stressful time, so we hope that these tips can help you reduce your anxiety and help you find the apartment of your dreams. Feel free to share any other tips with our readers in the comments below.
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