Renting your first apartment is a huge milestone. You should be proud of yourself for even considering it. There is a lot of freedom and excitement that come along with being a new apartment renter, but if you’re not careful, this enormous step can create additional stress.

Moving. Budgeting. Bills. Cleaning.

It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed as a first-time apartment renter, but we’re here to help. We’ve put together a guide for first-time renters to make this new phase of your life as stress-free as possible.  Make your first apartment living experience a great one with these five tips!

Guide To Renting An Apartment For The First Time

Tip 1: Know Your Budget

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth saying. You have to understand and adhere to your budget. It can mean the difference between a great experience and a terrible one. Imagine how stressed you’ll be if you’re so financially stretched that you have to pick and choose which bills to pay on time. Before you sign a lease for an apartment, establish a budget.

Our apartment living guide suggests that you keep count of your potential moving expenses. Think first month’s rent, utility transfer or set up fees, application fees, security deposit, truck rental, and items to purchase from your first apartment checklist. You’ll also want a budget for all your regular monthly expenses such as rent, food, utility bills, and fun activities. The easiest way to manage your rental budget is to choose your apartment community wisely. As a first-time renter, make sure you choose an apartment community that fits within your means.

Don’t make the mistake of committing to more than you can realistically afford on your first apartment. Ideally, you will spend 30% of your gross income, or less, on rent. This leaves enough money for other bills as well as paying down debt or establishing a savings account.

Tip 2: Plan Ahead

Keep in mind there are probably things about your current place that you’re taking for granted. When you move into your own apartment you might realize you have needs you didn’t consider before.

Maybe your family or roommates cook for you. Maybe someone else cleans the kitchen or takes out the trash. Maybe there was a washer, dryer, and dishwasher you could use for free. Do you have a dog or cat? Not all apartments are pet-friendly, and many charge monthly animal fees.

While you might be inclined to just “make it work,” try to think ahead about what changes you’ll have to face and how you will actually make them work.

Tip 3: Take a Tour of the Community Before Moving In

While online photos are helpful for narrowing down options, it’s easy to miss details such as how well the community is maintained, how much parking is available, or what the laundry rooms look like. If possible, take a trip to visit the community before making a decision.

Schedule a tour with an apartment community or attend an open house so you can get a real sense of what the community is like. Make a list of questions to ask while you’re on tour (like where your mail will be delivered, what utilities are included and what are extra, what is the parking situation for yourself and guests, what additional costs there are to moving in, etc.).

Tip 4: Read and Understand Your Lease

While this won’t be the most exciting read of your life, understanding what terms you’re agreeing to is an important part of apartment living. Initialing here and there will certainly get you excited, but you want to make sure you aren’t taken by surprise down the road.

Read the contract entirely, make notes of any concerns, and don’t hesitate to talk with the property manager about your questions. Request a copy of your lease to keep for your records so you always have it to refer back to.

Make mental (or written!) notes of how to pay your rent, what the penalty is for paying late, how to submit a maintenance request, what to do if you experience noise disturbances, or anything else you may need.

Tip 5: Do a Walk-Through of Your Apartment Upon Move-In

Don’t let the excitement of being a first-time apartment renter distract you from doing a thorough walk-through of your apartment — look for any defects or non-functional items. Turn on and off all lights, open and close all doors, run each faucet for a minute or two, test the blinds, etc. Make a list of anything not in proper working condition and submit a maintenance request. Once this is done, you can enjoy your new home!

First-Time Renters Choose Southern Management

The best way to rent with confidence is to choose a trusted, reputable property management company. With 75 apartment communities and more than 25,000 apartment homes, we know a thing or two about helping people find beautiful, affordable places to call home.

We’d love to tell you about the Southern management difference and answer all of your questions about availability, pricing, short-term leases, and more. If you’re on the hunt for an apartment and you want to be sure you have the best options, reach out to our team today!