Finding your first apartment to truly call your own is an exciting and intimidating experience. All the new rules and requirements you have to familiarize yourself with are going to take up a lot of your energy, but if you approach this smartly and with proper planning, you can look forward to enjoying the independence of finally having an apartment of your own.
Learn to Compromise
Can’t afford that loft you’ve been eyeing for quite some time? Consider finding someone to share the rent and household expenses with. Have you found out that your price range doesn’t include units with a pool, gym, or laundry room access? The Balance suggests determining how much you can afford to pay from the start and learning to compromise based on whatever resources are currently available to you.
Remember that this is your first apartment, and although you should find a place where you can stay for more than just a couple of months, it doesn’t have to be your dream home – just a home where you can work towards pursuing your dreams.
Learning to compromise is not that bad, and it can give you options that you didn’t think were possible had you stuck to your initial requirements.
Get an Experienced Local Agent or Broker
Real estate rules vary from state to state and city to city. Laws, fees, and taxes all play a part in your ability to acquire the best apartment that your available resources can buy. Finding the right agent or broker entails doing your own research into local real estate requirements.
In a nutshell, your chosen agent should be able to explain to you clearly whatever you don’t understand about the requirements of the area you’re looking to move into. This is an especially crucial move for when you’re moving into big cities or metropolises with notoriously cutthroat real estate markets. Yoreevo has a list of vital information for first-time buyers in New York and recommends getting a buyer’s agent who has lots of experience in helping first time buyers or renters.
Apart from ensuring that you get a good deal, getting an experienced agent or broker to have your back will give you more confidence in pursuing deals that might initially seem too steep for your price range. By assessing the available options, an agent will help you get your money’s worth.
Get a Guarantor on Your Side
As Jimmy I’m of CNBC so bluntly explains “Just because you think you can afford the rent doesn’t mean the landlord agrees.” This is why you need a guarantor – the one responsible for paying the rent in the event that you somehow can’t. A guarantor can be a private company like Insurent, whose customer base is mostly comprised of young people, the group that is most in need of a guarantor.
Most major metropolitan cities like New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco require this type of arrangement before allowing newbie renters to sign any lease. Sometimes, older and financially stable relatives or guardians can stand in as guarantors – the requirements depend on the city. Generally speaking, the smaller the city, the least likely you’ll need a guarantor. But if you’re planning to move to a major city, you should be ready to look for one.
Plan Your Move Around the Ideal Timeframe
Apartments typically re-enter the market around a month before they’re ready for moving into. If you’re ready with most of the requirements, it usually just takes a couple days to process your application as a potential tenant.
Make the decision to move 24 to 30 days before the actual move-in date. Deciding earlier than this means foregoing possibly ideal apartments that are not yet back on the market, and deciding later than this means risking losing an apartment you’re already interested in.
In relation to this, it’s also a good idea to schedule your move during off-peak rent season – this means away from the start of school and closer to the summer months when more units are available for long-term lease, which could also mean cheaper rent in general.
Use This Chance to De-Clutter
If there’s anything that’s truly awesome about this year’s Marie Kondo-inspired organizing craze, it is that it highlights the cluttered state of most homes in the U.S. today. Heed her advice and review your personal belongings – if it doesn’t give you joy, don’t bring it to your first apartment. As one of Lifehacks’ 6 Ways to Make Your Home a Truly Relaxing Place, active de-cluttering will allow you to establish a new space that is decidedly your own, one that doesn’t come with the baggage of your old living spaces.
There’s no reason to be intimidated at the prospect of renting your first apartment. Research all the requirements of moving to your targeted town or city, make a checklist of the requirements and make sure you can actually afford the apartment you’re targeting. You got this!