My Personal Tips on Finding an Apartment
As you guys may know, last year I took the big leap in moving out of my parents house and moving into an apartment with my military boyfriend Wally. It was a big leap, but well worth it. Finding an apartment was no cake walk, for me it was a lot of stress, tears, and time dedication. I found it a bit more difficult since I was doing a lot of it on my own time since Wally was in Japan and getting ready to be discharged from the military. Shockingly enough in high school and college there was nothing to really prepare you for the day you decide to move out and get your own home. So its up to you to figure it all out on your own... unless you're reading this! These are my helpful tips in when looking to finding your own place to rent.
Have enough money saved: When renting an apartment you will be asked for first months rent, a security deposit(which is the same amount as the first months rent), and a brokers fee (the fee varies on the realtor, some do not have a fee and others will be the equivalent to one months rent). If you do not have enough money saved to be able to pay for all those things up front I do not recommend being on the hunt for an apartment.
Pay attention to your credit score: Throughout my high school and college career absolutely no one ever spoke to me about a credit score and how important it is. I only found out because of the amount of times I saw a Credit Karma ad. For those of you who do not know what a credit score is, it is a 3 digit number that relates how likely you are to pay off debt. Realtors and banks will look into this score to see whether you are approved for a loan or renting or buying a home. Some people will tell you it is not a big deal when it actually is. Wally and I at one point had an issue with one apartment just because one of our credit scores were too low compared to the other. So check on your score and see what you can do to improve it.
Don't look too soon: When looking into renting an apartment you are not supposed to start looking until at least a month of the date you plan to move in. Most of the apartments on the market at the time you are looking can have tenants who will be moving out at the same time you are planning on moving in. I only recommend looking early to get a bit of a feel of what you want for your home. Most realtors that you contact will ask when you are planning to move in and if you tell them a date that is farther than the next month they will recommend you looking at a later time. Definitely because they do not want to waste their time showing an apartment that probably wont be taken off the market in the time span they want to.
Be ready to see a lot of apartments in a short time: From the end of August going into September I saw a little over 40 apartments before finding the one that Wally and I loved. I would rush out of work everyday and see about 3 - 5 apartments a day. Having my appointments lined up and all of them around the same area is what helped me stay sane when seeing so many apartments in one day. It's good to see a lot of apartments, because it allows you to keep your options open and also shows you what you do and don't like.
Location, Location, Location!: Finding an apartment in a location that works for you is so important. Making sure you have all the amenities you need around you such as grocery store, train stations or busses, laundry mat if your building doesn't have, and convenience stores. Having an apartment that is close to the train that will make your commute 20x easier, being able to be a 5 min walk from the local grocery store makes all the difference in the world. Ask questions: No question is a stupid question and definitely not when you are planning to move in somewhere and call it your home. Asking as many questions about the apartment you're looking at is important. I would ask things from when was the last time the elevator was inspected all the way down to when was the last time the appliances in the apartment were replaced. These are all things you need to know, even if you don't think you need to know.
Be prepared for a plenty of paper work: Before you sign a lease you have to fill out applications for the apartment and sadly they are never 2 page applications. The applications have you fill out all your information such as your recent home address, your social security and your salary. You also have to send in a bunch of documents such as proof of employment, state ID, your 3 - 4 most recent pay stubs, and so much more.
Once you are able to get through with finding your first apartment you are capable of doing anything. It can be difficult at times but do not get discouraged because the feeling after you have found the place and signed the lease is one of the biggest sighs of relief you will experience. One small step for the apartment renting market but one big leap in your story!