5 Stress-Free Apartment Hunting Tips for First Time Renters
Any time you’re doing something for the first time, there’s bound to be a learning curve. You don’t even know how much you don’t know. And when you’re hunting for your first apartment, what you don’t know can cost you money, comfort, and convenience. And of course, the process can be stressful when you don’t have the first clue what you’re doing. But with a few guidelines to follow, you should have an easier time finding your very first residence, not to mention every new dwelling thereafter. Here are just a few tips to get you through the process with far less stress.
- Set a budget. The place to start when hunting for your first place is by setting a budget. The reason is that it can give you a reasonable set of parameters from which to proceed. If you begin by looking for a specific location or square footage, for example, you could quickly end up bogged down in listings that are way out of your price range, ultimately wasting your time and the time of anyone who shows you the apartment. With a budget in mind you can narrow your search to listings that you can actually afford.
- There are bound to be all kinds of amenities you’re interested in, such as locations near your school, work, or busy downtown areas, not to mention apartment features like ample square footage, a modern layout, a great view, and high-end appliances, just for example. But you need to put your priorities in order to prepare for the fact that you might not find everything you want in your limited price range. You might also want to look for rent control, utilities included in the rental price, a furnished apartment, and so on. Listing out what you need, what you want, and what is most important can help you to find an apartment that will work for you, even if it isn’t quite perfect.
- Pick locations, but be flexible. If you search a blanket area, you’re bound to come across all kinds of locations you’re not really interested in. For example, you might get a great price on a large apartment, but end up in a high-crime area. Or you may not realize that you’re paying more to be in a desirable school district, something you don’t need if kids aren’t in your immediate future. So check out neighborhoods, do some research, and select a few areas you prefer. But don’t discount listings outside your preferred locations if a diamond in the rough happens to pop up.
- Prepare to rent. There is certain information you’ll need to have available when you start shopping for apartments, like references and contact information for your employer, just for example. But you’ll also want to ask plenty of questions pertaining to rules and regulations, the parking situation, costs in addition to rent (like the security deposit), and so on.
- Know how to find listings. MLS (multiple listing service) sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and others can not only help you to find¬†apartments for rent in Boston, Dallas, and Los Angeles, but they even offer mobile apps that let you take your search on the go. That said, you might want to consider other options, like hiring a rental agent. These professionals often have access to hidden listings or those that have not yet been posted, and they might be able to get you in to look at exclusive listings that aren’t open to the public.