If you feel it’s time to get a place of your own, there’s much to consider. It isn’t just a matter of throwing your things in boxes and moving, although you need to do that, too.
Here are a few things you need to know before you make the decision to get your first place.
What’s Your Budget?
Sit down and figure out how much money you can expect to spend on things such as food, entertainment, your car payment and insurance (if you have a car), your cellphone, clothing, a gym membership, or anything else that chips away at your income. This website can help you create a budget.
How Much Does The Place Really Cost?
Rent is just one of the expenses you’ll pay when you have your own place. You’ll probably have to pay for a security deposit, utilities, cable, and internet. In total, these expenses shouldn’t exceed about a quarter of your monthly income.
Don’t forget, you may need to pay the first and last month’s rent beforehand, a pet deposit, and even fees for a credit check or making an application. You’ll usually pay hook-up fees for your utilities, cable, and internet and you’ll pay for laundry too. You’ll undoubtedly need some things you’ll need for your new place too, such as furniture, lamps, dishes, pots and pans, linens, and more. Include these expenses in your budget..
If you find that finding your own place seems impossible, you do have a few options. You can split expenses with a roommate, or wait, save more money, and accumulate more things. Don’t rely on your credit, otherwise you’ll incur debt and struggle to pay it off.
Don’t Forget Renter’s Insurance
Unless you have plenty of money in the bank to replace all your belongings, you need insurance. The landlord’s insurance only covers the building, not your things. Plus, many landlords require renter’s insurance as a stipulation of tenancy.
Even when you’re just starting out, you’ll have plenty of stuff. Do an inventory of your belongings so you understand how much insurance you need
Renter’s insurance is very affordable. It averages between $15 and $25 per month. Besides paying for lost or damaged possessions, it can also pay for things such as your bike or laptop if it’s stolen from your work. It also pays additional living expenses if you can’t stay in your place, because of vandalism, theft, fire, or a bust water pipe.
If you already have auto insurance, you can probably bundle renters and auto insurance for a better rate. Discuss coverage with your independent insurance agent. They’re your best resource for low rates and good coverage.
Decide What Is Most Important
Once you figure out your finances, you need to separate needs from wants. Create a list of the things your place must provide such as proximity to public transportation or work, parking, and storage. Things you would like, but don’t really need, shouldn’t be deal breakers when you start to look at places.
Always View The Rental
Any place can look great in an ad or on the internet, but you need to see it. Bring a tape measure to ensure your furniture fits in the space and it will work for your needs.
Turn on faucets, flush the toilet, and assess the cleanliness, condition, and noise level of the rental. Avoid visiting when it is dark outside.
Read the Lease
A lease is a legally binding contract, so it important you read every word. Take it home and digest it before you decide to sign. Most of the information is pretty straightforward, but if you don’t understand an item, search for an explanation.
Watch for clauses regarding penalties or fines and who’s responsible for particular expenses. Agreements often include restrictions and limitations, such as not altering or restricting the number of people living in the rental. However, it may also include odd conditions that could catch you off guard.
If you decide you want the rental, always walk through it with the landlord and write down any and all pre-existing damages, no matter how small. Date and sign the list have the landlord sign it too, and give them a copy. Otherwise, you could be held liable for existing problems.
Pay your rent promptly, follow the rules, and enjoy your new-found independence. There’s nothing quite like the experiences you’ll have in your first place – enjoy!