Moving out of your parent’s house after high school is one of the most liberating moments you will experience in your lifetime. No more rules, curfews, or chores right? What many young people fail to remember is that with all this newfound freedom comes a great deal of responsibility. Your mom is no longer your alarm clock, things cost money and food doesn’t cook itself. With that in mind I have prepared the following tips for first time renters.
Pay attention to location
The location of your new home is one of the most important things to keep in mind, right behind price. If you are a student, living within walking or biking distance from campus will save you hundreds of dollars per year in parking alone. If your ideal home isn’t close enough to campus then look into public transportation to and from. With all of your new bills there is no reason to make parking another one of them.
Develop clean habits
Rented homes are A LOT easier to keep clean then to deep clean after a year or more of abuse. The place will have been cleaned before you move in and it is definitely in you best interest. If you hope to get your cleaning deposit back at the end of your lease it is imperative that you never let the mess get out of hand. Many first time renters think of the cleaning deposit as a sunk investment they will never see again but if you maintain order you can get this back and use the same money for your next lease!
Determine total utility costs
In order to accurately gauge whether or not a potential rental is truly within your monthly housing budget, you need to know what the additional payments typically are besides the rent. A 2,000 square foot house with three air conditioning units and a pool may have the same monthly rent as a nice condo, but the electric bill would be hundreds more dollars per month. It is also important to ask if there is a natural gas line for the rental unit. While these sometimes save money in the form of electricity it is an additional bill to be taken into account.
Talk about property maintenance
Beyond rent and utilities there are still even more potential costs associated with a rental unit. When meeting with the property manager make sure to ask who is responsible for basic property maintenance. Things that are outside your control should be the manager’s responsibility to get fixed and this should be made clear before any paperwork is signed. Also, make sure to ask about pest control. In an apartment complex it is not entirely uncommon for a single unit to let their pest issue get out of control and if the infestation spreads to your home then you need to know who is responsible for paying the exterminator.
Get a neighborhood police report
Before making your final decision take a look at a local police report and get a feel for the crime in the area. Make sure you are comfortable with the data for the area specifically and make sure to notice how frequent these issues are and if there is a large amount of violent crime. If the police report makes you uneasy I promise you can find somewhere safer.
Establish relationship with property manager
One of the most important pieces of advice that I received prior to my first rental was to make friends with the property manager. Your landlord will be the go to person for all problems within your property and it’s best to stay on their good side. If something breaks, gets damaged or is generally not working correctly, this is the only person you can go to and the person that decides if it needs to be fixed. I once had a landlord who refused to fix the clothes dryer in our unit because we can “just hang things outside.”
The last and most important advice I have for a first time renter is to save up more money then you think you will need prior to moving. Especially for a first time renter, everything will cost more money then you are anticipating. Food, toiletries, cleaning supplies and other things will need to be replaced monthly and continue adding to the aggregate cost. Do your best to be prepared because everything is more expensive then you expect.
On top of all of the aforementioned tips, don’t forget to have fun! Moving out of your parent’s house is one of the most exciting moments in your life as you are taking the first steps towards true adulthood. You will learn a few lessons along the way, it won’t always be easy, but it will also be the most fun you have had in your life yet.