Note: Martha came to me out of the blue, and has a helpful post here about renting. Thanks Martha!
About the author: Martha Keagan is a freelance writer, full time mother and local part-time real estate and apartment rentals broker. If you are looking for a new apartment, remember the guidelines listed below. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and prepare you for any circumstance.
Finding the right place to live can be a struggle in itself without the added worry of spending an arm and a leg on a deposit. Since the IRS has increased the loan approval minimum credit score in order to buy new houses—requiring a score over 700!—it makes more sense for some to just rent, as it can be cheaper and complexes generally allow 6-12 month leases. However, before you sign, here are some things you should know.
- Move-in is much cheaper. Apartment complexes generally have low move-in rates and pro-rate the rest of the move-in costs throughout the first few months of renting.
- Be friendly with your neighbors. Just as if you were living in a house, the people surrounding you are essentially your ‘guards.’ They will be around when you are not, able to spot something suspicious around your place while you are not home. It’s best to be friendly, so you can watch out for each other, should something happen.
- Keep your pets on a leash. Pets are generally nice, for the most part; but unfortunately, there are animals that aren’t so friendly. Dogs can bite, cats scratch, etc. Make sure to keep yourself and others safe by leaving your pets on a leash if you choose to walk them in or around the complex.
- Try to choose an apartment by a big tree. It gets hot in the summer. Find an apartment that has a large object in front of it to help shade from the sun. This will also cut down on your energy costs in the summer by not having to run your air conditioner to the max.
- Find an apartment close to work or school. This should be a given. When searching for your new apartment, you want to ensure that you do not have to drive across the city to go to work or school. Finding a conveniently located apartment less than a 10 minute commute to work should help things flow a bit better in the mornings.
- Take advantage of the amenities. Treat them like they’re yours, but be respectful. Almost every apartment complex has a pool, many have more than one. Utilize the pool and hot tub along with the fitness center and tennis courts. They are property of the complex, but you don’t have to do any maintenance.
- Clean before you leave. This one is especially important because you want to make sure you get your deposit back. If the apartment doesn’t look as it did on your move in date, you may never see that deposit again.
- Rent on bottom floor. If you are looking at renting at a multi-story apartment complex, choose the bottom floor. Carrying couches, televisions and other valuables up three flights of stairs is not fun and on top of that, you will have to do it again when you decide to move out.
- Lock your vehicle. Apartments generally do not have garages. Some have car ports and others just have covered—or uncovered—parking. Because your vehicle is not in an enclosed garage, it is open to weather, theft and break ins. Lock your vehicle to keep unwanted people out of it.
- Get in good with management. Last but not least, begin on a positive note with management; the more they like you, the more perks you will most likely receive.