Being a first-time renter can be overwhelming. It feels like there’s a million things to consider, half of which you haven’t thought of yet — but don’t stress! Here are a few things to consider when you’re renting your first apartment.
Consider your commute
As a first-time renter, you may laser in on apartment features when you open up Zillow or Apartments.com. Does it have a dishwasher? In-unit laundry? A personal bathroom?
In addition to what an apartment has, though, you should take note of where the apartment is. Being near campus can be a lifesaver if you always make it out the door a little later than you mean to. And sometimes, if you live far away, missing the bus can be the difference between making and skipping class.
Think about the places you frequent. Do you want to be near the stadium? What about downtown? Living within walking distance of campus can save you time and money in the long run.
Make a budget — and stick to it
I know, I know, no one wants to hear it. But budgeting on your rent can save you a ton of stress down the road. If you’re paying for your property yourself through a job, you should aim to spend 30% or less of your budget on rent. Even if you’re paying through other means or your parents are helping, you should still keep what you’ll have to pay in mind. Ask about average utility cost as well, because they can add up!
Having a budget isn’t the most fun part of apartment or house-hunting. But keeping your rent and utility costs to a level you can afford means you’ll be able to use the rest of your money doing what YOU want!
Double-check your lease with Student Legal Services
Leases can be tricky. They’re long, complicated and full of words you may not be familiar with. That’s why I recommend booking an appointment with Student Legal Services to have them look at your lease, free of charge. Having them look over the lease before it gets signed is the best option, but if you’ve already signed your lease, getting an attorney or legal intern to look at the fine print doesn’t hurt.
You may find you’re responsible for cleaning, maintenance or another task you wouldn’t have thought — or, like my sophomore year apartment surprise, that “quiet hours” are enforced starting at 10 p.m.!
Ask your realtor for your house or apartment’s dimensions
We’ve all been there. You plan out your new room all summer. You pick out everything, from the furniture down to the rug on the floor. You’re moving in, you’re so excited and suddenly, your heart sinks. You realize your desk just will NOT fit next to your bed like you imagined.
Often, landlords and rental companies will provide you with a floor plan or dimensions for your leased property if you ask! Especially if you’ve signed the lease and they know you’ll be moving in, most will want to start the relationship off on a good note. Just shoot them a text or email!