Last Updated on December 30, 2022 by Corynn
This blog post is about 10 things you should do before getting an apartment.
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Congratulations! You decided to move out of your parent’s house or you decided to go from dorm life to apartment life.
This is a huge step for you! Renting an apartment for the first time is such as nervous but exciting thing to do! Plus having a place to call your own is pretty cool to say to people.
One thing for sure I truly believed that helped me was being prepared! Taking the moment to mentally and financially prepare yourself for your first apartment can help you a lot in the long run!
How Far In Advance Should You Look For An Apartment?
You can start looking for an apartment as early as 3 months in advance. although applying for an apartment is different.
The farthest you can apply for an apartment is between 60-45 days in advance. This is where some planning have to take in place. (you can find out more details further on in the post).
For myself, I started searching and applying for apartments within the 60 day mark.
What happens if I moving to a different city?
Depending on the city you want to live in, the process may move very quickly. Take some time to visit the city you are wanting to live in. See the areas, coffee shops, transit routes, and more.
Another visit can be to go apartment shopping.
TIP: If you are moving to an area where finding apartments is competitive, I highly suggest bringing your documents with you, (we’ll discuss more about this further on in the post).
“How Do I Prepare For My First Apartment?“
Deciding to move out is the easy part! now it’s time to get down to business. Before we can dive into what you need to know before renting, you have to prepare yourself first.
In addition, you want to be aware of things you should know before you rent your first apartment. Here are a few things you need to do to prepare for your first apartment:
Some property managers will ask for certain documents while applying to an apartment complex. It truly depends on the property manager and their company policy on what they would need from the tenant.
Some of the common documentation they will ask for will be; pay stubs, an employment letter from your employer, references (you can use your parents!) Identification, credit history.
2. Up Front Cost
Even though you are saving up for an apartment, you will encounter some upfront costs and fees prior to renting your apartment.
Such as; application fees, security deposits, extra fees to turn on the water/electricity, moving expenses, and more. We will talk more later on in this article on how you can be prepared for these things.
SAVE ON PINTEREST!
3. Credit Score
No matter what you absolutely need some kind of credit score to rent an apartment.
Depending on the area you are wanting to live in and the policies of the apartment complex, each place is different about how much your credit score will be.
Now that you know what is needed to rent an apartment, let’s get into what you should know prior to renting your new place!
4. Proof Of Income
You won’t be able to put in an application if you don’t have any proof of income. Your new landlord just wants to know that you can afford the rent monthly.
For instance, some landlords look if you can afford the rent by multiply your gross income 2-3 times.
10 Smart Steps To Do Before Getting An Apartment
1) Decide on Where You Want to Move!
This should be at the top of your list because you can’t figure out what anything will cost until you decided on an area/city you want to live in.
Some cities are more expensive than others. For example, you can be spending way more in a major city than in a small town area.
Do you want to stay close to your parents? Or are you okay with living an hour away? Can you find a place near your job?
Are you still in school? If so, how close do you want your apartment to be to campus?
These are some of the things you need to consider prior to renting out your own apartment. I have to say this is a very important step!
We sometimes can get carried away with scrolling through Pinterest and dreaming of the perfect apartment to live in. When actually we need to look into what we can afford.
You’re probably asking the question “how much should I save before getting an apartment?” And the question is…
It depends! Depending on the location of where your potential apartment will be. Your living cost, and if you are sharing the apartment with someone else.
Start by looking at your finances and see what you can contribute to your monthly rent. Not only rent but electricity, gas, water, phone bill, internet.
Take some time to research the cost of rent within your area or the area you want to move into.
In addition, create a budget on how much you will be spending on furnishing your apartment.
This includes cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and so much more. Allow your parents to help you to write out your list.
3) Will You Be Needing a Roommate?
Now that you decided on a location and your budget. Sometimes the area we want to live in, the cost of a rental unit is too high in price to live on your own. Have you thought about getting a roommate?
This could be a college friend, your best friend, even your partner!
Deciding on having a roommate also comes with a contract you will both have to follow. Such as; how will the bills be divided? How will you assign chores? What are the rules about you having visitors?
This agreement will also be followed if you are living with your partner. In Canada, if you live with your boyfriend/girlfriend for a year, you become common-law partners.
If you both decide on breaking up, this can lead to dividing up everything in the apartment 50/50.
Need some help deciding if you can live with your partner? Read my article here about 7 Things You Should Consider Before Moving in Together.
4) Decide On A Move-in Date
Are you going to be moving in the summer? Or during the colder seasons?
Will you be needing help? Hiring a moving company? Or are you going to be asking for help from family and friends?
These are things to consider because this depends on availability with apartments you have been looking into. Also if you can get the help that day.
People usually move during the warmer seasons because they don’t want to deal with the cold and more of their friends are willing to help.
TIP: Even though the colder months are a rare time to move. It’s actually around the time landlords lower the rental price!
5) Create an Apartment List
Create a list of items you will be purchasing and the stores you can find them at. Even if you are moving in with a roommate, discuss who will be buying what to furnish your apartment.
Remember to include all areas of your place; kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, cleaning supplies, and any extra things you need.
You can always ask for help from your parents and friends who have moved out as well.
6) Notify your Parents!
Let your parents know that you are thinking of moving out. This will create open communication with them. This will also avoid any drama with your family. So please do not wait until a week before move-in day to let them know you are moving out.
When moving out of your parent’s house, it can either go great or be a little bit difficult.
They want to support you any way they can. Your parents may have their opinions but remember this is your decision and you have the final say.
7) Establish Good Credit
Remember how I said we’ll talk about this? Well, this is a very important step. If your credit is bad or not above the requirement the landlord wants. Please wait before moving out.
According to Borrowell “Landlords check your credit to evaluate your likelihood to pay rent on time. They also check whether you owe rent to any previous landlords.”
When you decide that you are moving out (12 or more months in advance) Check your credit score. See if it needs improving or are you able to apply for apartments with your credit score.
This also includes your future roommate. If their credit score is low, this will affect the apartments you will both get. All personal finances have to be in check prior to applying to any place.
8) Declutter/Give Old Items Away
Now that you have decided on when you are moving. It’s time to declutter. Throw out any old receipts you have, papers that you haven’t looked at in years, old trinkets you hardly use, etc.
Even go through your clothes! See if any clothes you have fit you or give them away to charity.
Doing a little decluttering will help with packing closer to move-in day. Plus you won’t be bringing in a lot of stuff with you to your new place.
9) Job Hunting
If you are moving to a different city, most likely you will need to find a new job. Find a job that can give you enough hours and pays well. Meaning you are able to afford your rent, bills, food, and personal items.
The pressure to afford everything will be a little easier if you have a roommate/your partner. Sit down together and talk about how much you both can contribute each month.
TIP: Look for jobs 3 months in advance before your move-in date. So you are not feeling stressed about finding a job and wondering if next month’s rent will be paid.
10) Begin to Practice Like You Are Living on Your Own
Get into the habit of having to cook and clean every day. This will help you transition better when you move into your new apartment.
Also (if you can) try to “pretend” you are paying your rent every month. Meaning if rent is $600, try to put away $600 every month like you are “paying rent”.
This was something that I did and it helped me so much to know what I was getting myself into
There you have it! 10 things you need to do before moving into your first apartment!
If you would like to begin your apartment searching, I highly suggest reading my article on 6 Helpful Apartment Hunting Tips For First Time Renters!
Bonus! 11) Create a First Night Box
Moving into your apartment you will be spending the night surrounded by boxes and boxes of all of your things.
You’ll be super tired to start unpacking. But you need to eat, and use the bathroom, and dang! Someone cut their finger.
Having a first night box will have you extra prepared for your first night in your new apartment!
Not sure what to put inside your box? here is a FREE Apartment First Night Box Checklist that you can use to have yourself 100% prepared for everything.
Related “Before Getting An Apartment” Post