Getting your first place can be a very exciting and overwhelming experience! Make sure everything goes well without a hitch by making sure to not make these mistakes!
Understanding your Needs versus your Wants
Considering that you are more than likely going to be signing a lease for about a year, it is very important that your new home is going to work well for you on many levels! Take some time to really evaluate what amenities are important to you and then from there determine what is truly a need. As an example for someone without a vehicle, a dishwasher is a want, close proximity to a bus line would be a need. Finding a rental unit can be tough because they all offer different amenities. Finding one that matches your priorities is key. Weigh your options thoroughly and make sure you are not trading a home you want for one that you need. Try to be flexible and remember that you are simply renting the home, not buying it and are only bound to it for the terms of the lease.
Make sure your timing is spot on when looking for a new place. Unless you are looking strictly at apartment complexes and student housing, you should wait until about 6-4 weeks before your ideal to really start looking for a new place. Starting too late is a red flag and can make you look irresponsible. Make sure you have enough money to secure your perfect home by placing a security deposit. If you really find the perfect unit and someone else snags it before you, it will be VERY hard to find anything else you like nearly as much! Giving yourself enough time will help ensure a smooth move!
Skipping the Details
When viewing a potential home or apartment, make sure you are checking for the things you need. It is very easy to get distracted by your wants and totally forget the things you’ve decided are needs. Make sure you physically view the potential units. If you truly can’t, get someone you trust to view it on your behalf! Of course anyone marketing the home online is only going to use the most flattering properties. Get inside and truly get a feel for the space. Really picture you and your furniture there.
Ask yourself a lot of questions! Take all the time you need to really make a sound decision, but also remember that time is of the essence because there are other people in the market.
Moving is expensive. Seriously, it is. The vast majority of situations require that you pay your first months rent and a security deposit before you move in. Generally that equates to be two months of rent. On top of this, many utility companies require deposits, especially for people who have never had utilities in their name. You also have to physically move your belongings, which will usually entail renting a moving truck. You may also need to purchase some last minute things for your new place including toiletries, trash cans, cleaning supplies and a shower curtain! Budget accordingly. It is much better to over save than to come up short.
Not Reading and/or Understanding the Terms of the Lease
I am not a lawyer, but it goes without saying, it is not smart to blindly sign any legal document. A lease is a legally binding agreement. Make sure you read and understand the entire lease. There may be a few things that you would have never considered a violation. Each landlord has different preferences, so no two leases are the same. It is important that you understand exactly what is expected of you.