You know, there are certain big milestones in one’s life. There is learning to ride a bike, buying your first car, getting married, etc. But, unlike anything else, there is nothing like getting your first apartment! It signifies a huge chapter in your life towards adulting! I remember the first time walking into my first apartment with keys in my hands and the feeling of freedom and flexibility.
It might seem like a daunting process at first. This is especially true if you have never had an apartment before. What all do they need? How much income should I be making? Is it a good idea? All of these are valid questions that have answers.
And this article, we will go to the five most important steps on how to get your first apartment and watch to look out for. After you’re done reading this, you will be ready to get your very own place! Excited? I sure am!
1. Figure out how much you can afford
First things first, we need to figure out how much rent you can comfortably afford. There is nothing worse than getting into an apartment and now leaving paycheck-to-paycheck. Your rent amount should not be so substantial that you can barely afford anything else.
Experts suggest that rent cost should not be more than 30% of your gross monthly income. For example, if you earn $40,000 a year, that is $3,333 per month gross. Your rent payment in this example should not be more than $1,000 per month. The Department of Housing and Urban Development say that family who spend more than 30% of their income on rent are cost-burdened.
Depending on where you live, 30% might not seem like enough for you. This might simply me and you have to either work on increasing your income, or look at cheaper Apartments within your budget. Trust me, you really don’t want to spend more than 30% of your income on rent.
You need to remember that your income should also be able to cover any debt payments, utilities, groceries, and any other expenses within your budget. So whatever you do, always make sure that you leave enough money to put it towards your debts, living expenses, and other savings goals.
2. Figure out your credit score
For many, getting your first apartment is the first time you might have to consider your credit score. When you apply for your first apartment, your credit score is going to be a big determining Factor. Since you don’t have any rental history, your credit score is going to be your selling point.
Usually, apartments in landlords look for a FICO score off at least 670. A score of 670 higher is considered good, but any lower than that might be problematic. It will also depend if it’s a private landlord or a company. Private landlords are more flexible when it comes to your credit score.
If you have never checked your credit score, credit karma is a good place to start. It’s free to use and can give you a good idea of where you stand.
If you determine that your credit score is less than 670, you might have to consider getting a cosigner like your parents. An alternative would be to rent with a roommate that has a higher credit score.
3. Research your neighborhood
Finding an apartment building is easy, but finding a good neighborhood for yourself is much harder. There are various factors that you will need to consider when figuring out where you want to live.
- How close you are to work or school?
- Is it a quiet neighborhood or near party centers?
- Is it far from other family and friends?
- How is the crime in that area?
- Is it far from attractions, restaurants, and your favorite places?
These are just a few items to consider, but you might have a list of your own. Make sure to write down a list for yourself and see how many boxes you can check. This will help you narrow down the neighborhood you want to be be living.
4. Submit your applications
Once you have decided on which apartment you wants to live in, you will need to fill out an application. These applications typically look at a few things:
- Your current income and employment history
- Your rental history (if you have any)
- Your background check and criminal history check
- Your credit check and derogatory marks
This will vary from apartment to apartment, but this is typically what they are looking for. If, for example, your income isn’t sufficient or your credit score is too low, then you might have to find a cosigner for your lease. They might alternatively require a larger deposit or a larger rent amount. These are just things to keep in mind and consider.
It’s also important to remember that you might have to do multiple applications before you find one. Especially during this day and age, it is getting increasingly difficult to find housing. Because of this, you might submit an application right after someone else, and lose your spot. You would have to retry somewhere else.
5. Read your lease carefully and sign
Once you have submitted your application and have been approved, you will then be presented with a lease agreements. It is very important that you read the lease carefully and ask any questions you might have before signing.
Lease Agreements are usually you’re early, so whatever you are signing will be legally binding for the next 12 months. It is then critical that you make sure you get a good understanding of what you’re signing, to avoid any headaches down the road. If anything doesn’t make sense to you, make sure you ask.
If everything looks and sounds good to you, they will usually require a security deposit when you sign the lease. He will finalize everything with them, and On Moving Day, receive the keys to your brand new apartment!