Student Guide to Renting Your First Apartment
Now that you’ve moved out on your own for the first time and have escaped dorm living, with the rush of independence to move into your own place, there’s some advice that you should follow to make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of, or locked into a lease for an apartment that is falling apart.
Set a Budget
Once you’ve created your housing budget for the school year and have come to the decision about the amount of rent that you can afford to pay, only then should you start looking at apartments. Plan to pay no more than 30% of your monthly budget on rent. If you’re unsure on how to plan a budget as a renter, then read up on the subject through educational articles. Many campus newspapers write a piece on budgeting during the beginning or ending of the school year or semester when there’s a new influx of students.
Decide on a Neighbourhood
Before you even start visiting apartments, narrow down your options by deciding in advance on the neighborhood where you would like to live. You’ll have to make decisions such as: live close to school to shorten your commute time? Or is it cheaper to move into another neighbourhood and pay less in rent, but lengthen your commute time?
Another aspect to think about is safety. Visit the potential apartment during the day and at night to decide if it is a neighborhood where you would feel safe living. Be sure to check your school directory for housing suggestions or listings. Oftentimes student housing directories get first choice at apartments for rent.
Thoroughly Inspect the Apartment
Once you’ve reached the stage where you’ve narrowed down your choice of neighborhood and managed to find a place within your budget, there are a few things to keep in mind during your walk-through of the apartment. The most important rooms in the house will be the kitchen and the bathroom. Make sure that you check the water pressure of the bathroom taps and that they actually work. Same goes for any appliances that come with the apartment.
Get Everything in Writing
Lastly, before you sign the lease, double-check that your landlord has included any discrepancies that were in the apartment. For example if there’s a crack in one of the windows, or if one of the power sockets doesn’t work, then this should be included in the lease. If you will be moving into an apartment where a security deposit is required, you don’t want to have your deposit held for issues that already existed before you moved in. And always remember to never sign a lease on an apartment sight unseen.
Your school news may offer ads and advice on renting as a student. Make sure that you visit the off-campus housing office before your rent anywhere, that’s what they’re there for.