If you’re getting ready to rent your own space for the first time, you might be pretty excited. There are some things you might want to know before you finally move in though.

Moving into your first apartment or rented room is an exciting new step in life, but have you really planned it out? If your only experience is living at home with your parents, you might be in for some uncomfortable surprises.

If you’re a first-time renter, read on for 10 useful tips for renting your first place

1. Tour the Apartment First

Online, landlords want to make the apartment or room look as nice as possible. That’s pretty easy with perfectly decorated rooms in pictures that can be edited.

Going through an apartment tour lets you see what the apartment is really like “in real life”. You can also use this opportunity to ask the landlord or property manager any questions that might be important to you. Don’t forget to check out any amenities that were listed! Is the fitness center really just a room with a few yoga mats? Is the pool actually filled in?

This also gives you time to look at the neighborhood. Is this somewhere that you can see yourself living?

2. Think of Important Questions

Before you choose your final apartment, you might not be thinking about some things that could be important down the line.

Try to have a little bit of foresight and think about your future needs. Are there any noise curfews in the apartment? Is there adequate security? What are the average utility fees?

These things might not be immediately interesting to you, but they could be important later.

3. Know What Utilities Are Included

This is one of those important questions!

Sometimes, apartments or rooms come with all utilities included. Sometimes they’re all under one fee.

More often, only one or two things will be covered, and you’ll have to take care of the others on your own. This has to be worked into your budget.

Even if the rent is cheap, if the electric and trash collection bills are going to be high, the apartment might be out of your budget.

4. Know Your Rights

Depending on where you’re located, different areas have different rules in place for the rights of tenants and property managers.

While a lot of the information that you need is going to be on your lease, make sure you check up on anything questionable by looking into your rights as a tenant.

5. Consider Renting a Room

In areas where rent is really expensive, you might experience a little bit of sticker shock once you start shopping around for your new place.

If this is the case, it might be in your best interest to rent a room in a house or an apartment instead of an entire apartment for yourself. There’s not much of a difference between renting a room and renting an apartment aside from the sharing of non-private spaces, like bathrooms and the kitchen. Think of it as a college dorm.

If you go in this direction, look into specific tips for renting a room to make sure that you get all of the details out of the way before making your choice.

6. Check Out the Parking Situation

Parking can be a luxury in some denser cities, so don’t automatically assume that your apartment comes with built-in parking.

While many apartments have free parking available, many also want tenants to utilize street parking. Others have only paid parking spots.

Make note of the parking situation for yourself and any guests you plan on having over and make sure that it fits your lifestyle.

7. If You Have Pets, Prepare to Struggle

Pets can be limiting when you’re hunting for a new place to rent. While you should definitely bring your furry friend with you, you will notice that many apartments have restrictions on cats and dogs.

Prepare to spend a lot of time parsing through apartment listings while you look for places that fit all of your criteria and also allow your pals to live with you.

8. Read the Lease

So you’re getting ready to sign the lease, great! Make sure that you actually read the entire thing before signing it.

Make sure that there’s nothing on the lease that confuses you, or that you can’t understand. If you have questions, make sure that you can ask them. Sometimes landlords will include strange things on lease agreements, and if you sign on the dotted line, you might be responsible for them.

To save yourself the trouble, take your time with the lease.

9. Befriend Your Neighbors

Moving into a new place can be kind of isolating and scary, especially if you’re a first-time renter. While you don’t have to be best friends with your neighbors, having a community around you can make you feel a little bit safer.

If something happens in the apartment building that you should know about, or if someone notices that your car has been broken into, or that mail was taken, you’re more likely to receive this information if your neighbors know who you are.

10. Take “Before” Photos

At the end of your lease, you’re hopefully going to receive your security deposit. However, if there’s some damage to the apartment, the landlord might end up keeping it.

If you notice any damage or stains in your apartment, take note of them and take pictures as soon as you get there, before you even unpack your things. Bring them to the attention of the landlord so they can make a note of them as well.

This gives you added security that you might just get that deposit back.

Are You Ready to Be a First-Time Renter?

Moving out on your own is exciting, but don’t let yourself get complacent! Choosing a new home is a big decision, and you want to make sure that you do it right.

Whether you’re renting a room, an apartment, or even a house for the first time, these tips will help to make the transition easy.

For more posts like this on all of your favorite current topics, check out the rest of the blog!

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