Finding an affordable apartment that has everything you need is vital, but it can be a daunting task. This is why it’s so important to gather and follow as many tips as possible to help make your search a success.
There are so many suggestions you can find on the internet or by asking coworkers, friends, and family members for their thoughts. However, not all of them are well-suited for every renter out there.
More than 100.9 million people in the United States live in rented homes, and there are some tips that every one of them cannot afford to ignore when searching for the best apartment for their needs . If you want to have the best chance of finding the perfect apartment for you, keep the following tips in mind.
Determine Specifically Where You Want to Live
There is more to consider when choosing a location for your new apartment than many people realize. Begin your search by choosing the best location for you and your family. Consider different neighborhoods and the attractions, stores, and services that you enjoy and need.
Consider locations with regard to things like:
- The commute to and from your job
- The distance from your children’s schools
- The proximity to medical facilities
- The distance from supermarkets, dining options, and stores
Keep in mind that the further from work your new apartment will be, the more you will end up paying in transportation costs. However, there may be a workable trade-off when it comes to distance because apartment costs tend to decrease the further you move from metropolitan areas.
Determine a Safe Budget — And Don’t Stray from It
It’s not wise to investigate and consider apartments without knowing exactly how much you will be able to afford to pay toward rent each month. Financial experts typically recommend that people pay no more than 30% of their monthly income toward rent.
In fact, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development states that families spending more than that amount of their income on rent are considered to be cost-burdened renters .
To safely determine how much rent you can afford to pay, factor in your daily living expenses like gas, groceries, and entertainment. Don’t forget things like utility costs, medical costs, credit card and loan payments, and funds you’ll put away each month toward your rainy day savings.
Be Clear About the Cost of Utilities
It’s just devastating when people move into the apartment they’ve been dreaming about, only to find out too late that they can’t afford the rent, gas, water, electricity, and other bills that go along with it. Many apartment communities will pay for some utilities, but this perk varies greatly.
One place might cover every single utility expense, including cable and internet, while another complex won’t cover anything, leaving the renter to bear the entire burden of the bills. When figuring rent and costs, make sure that you accurately determine what bills you will be responsible for, or you can end up with a terribly expensive surprise.
Don’t Dismiss Options Too Quickly
You never know what hidden gems have to offer renters! Whether you’re considering a location in the city, a suburb, or a rural area, there often is more than meets the eye when it comes to apartments. Before submitting applications and making final decisions, if you can, take the time to personally tour different apartment communities.
If this isn’t possible, such as if you are planning a move across the country, see if the communities you are considering offer virtual tours online of the premises. Make sure to tour individual apartment homes as well as the public areas of every community.
Read the Lease Carefully Before Signing — Then Read It Again
Taking the time to thoroughly read the entire lease before signing it will potentially save you countless headaches, stress, and dollars down the road. Every lease is loaded with important information, including your rights as well as your responsibilities.
If there is anything in a lease that does not make sense to you, make sure that you ask for clarification before you sign. It’s fairly common for renters to take leases to an attorney to have them looked over.
Some of the most important things you will normally find included in an apartment lease include:
- Limits on occupancy
- Regulations regarding pets
- Security deposits, late fees, and monthly rental amounts
- All terms of the tenancy, including how long the term is
- Information on when rent is due and any grace periods in place
- Details about maintenance and repair protocols
- Clarification about when the landlord legally can enter your apartment
- Information about restrictions on illegal activities of tenants
In addition, there should be restrictions on business use of the apartment, specific disclosures that are required (such as any flooding of the unit in the past), any rights for the tenant to sublet their home, parking guidelines, and anti-discrimination, health, and safety laws and policies included in the lease .
A Note About Renters Insurance
One important part of finding an affordable apartment is making sure you are protected in the event of a catastrophe. Whether a neighbor of yours accidentally sets fire to the apartment building, a pipe bursts, or a burglar breaks in and steals your possessions, renters insurance can help protect you.
Far too many renters fail to take this important step, and it can cost them dearly. Without renters insurance, you could find yourself rebuilding your life from scratch after an unexpected disaster.
The cost of renters insurance is likely far less than you’d expect; in fact, the average renter in the U.S. pays just under $219 per year for coverage .
When you’re considering all of your options for apartments for your new home, make sure you take the time to ensure that you will not only find the best place for you but that you will also be able to afford it and be protected, too.