Finding your first apartment should be an exciting experience. It is, for many, the first step into financial independence—a rite of passage into adulthood. However, it can also feel like a daunting experience, especially if there is no one around who can guide you. Fortunately, it is definitely attainable if you keep realistic goals and prioritize your budget. Here are a few quick tips on how to get your first apartment with ease.
- Stick to a Budget. This will vary wildly for everyone. Some people are still in college, in between college and grad school, or starting out in their career. This can be a slow build and mean everything to a budget. There are, of course, those who have a lot of help from their families, and that will make more choices available to them. However, not everyone is in this situation, so do not feel like you are the only one if you have difficulty finding the right apartment to suite your needs. There are many ways to make it happen.
- Build Your Credit. Again, this will be easier for some more than others. Why is it so important? That is because your landlord will perform credit checks online before considering you for the apartment or home. If you have been rejected to get a credit card in the past, it is likely because the cards you applied for required high credit approval. There are many options for credit cards you can buy when you are starting out. If you are a student, consider getting a student credit card. They usually have higher acceptance rates, although their credit limit may be lower. Another great option is a secured credit card. This is because the cardholder must make a deposit to avoid risk on behalf of the issuer. Finally, a great option would be to become an authorized user of a family member’s credit card. While this is not available to everyone, it does allow you to build credit along with someone you trust who is seasoned. If you are under twenty-one, it is likely you will need a cosigner as well. Be sure you pay responsibly and on time to optimize your credit.
- Have a Roommate. Most people will need at least one roommate to start out with. Some people might get five or six! How many roommates you can have depends on the property, and it is important to follow the landlord’s rules so that you do not get evicted and compromise future leasing opportunities. Something to keep in mind: make sure your roommates are reliable. Your roommate has to be able to respect the property and pay rent on time. If your roommate cannot do either of those things, you will cause unnecessary frustration on yourself and risk your own living situation. Don’t insist on footing the bill for their rent. Unless this is a highly trustworthy and reliable friend, it is not wise to let them continuously rely on you for rent. Also, make sure that the roommate does not flake. In some cases, you can sign a roommate agreement with an apartment broker so they do not slip out on you.
- Consider an Apartment Broker. In some areas, apartment brokers are popular. You are more likely to find them in densely populated cities such as New York City. The reason they are valuable is that they are seasoned in navigating the complicated web of the thousands apartments across the city and find you the best deal. In a city with high demand and little supply, an apartment broker can save you a lot of time and money. Sure, you have to pay them, but what you get will be the best deal.
- Have Fun! Apartment hunting should be an enjoyable experience. Just because you aren’t finding the ideal place one day, there could be one the next day. The key is to stay on top of it. Browse every day on sites like Craigslist or Zillow for updates. You may be surprised what you can find. Just keep in direct contact with whomever is in charge of showing you the apartment and be sure you follow up with them on any questions you may have.