There comes a point in your life when you’re going to be out on your own.
It’s that time of the year, the time where you have to find somewhere to live. Maybe you are moving out of the dorms or out of your parents’ house, either way, you are trying to rent. Renting is that step of adulting that you have to take and experience mixed emotions because you have your own place but you also have bills. You’re at that moment in your life where you’re ready to move out and try this thing called adulting. There are expectations over what you should be doing and what your housing situation should look like.
Don’t let that deter you from renting. Having your own place is the best. You are in your own oasis and can do whatever you want because it’s your place — well, almost whatever you want because your landlord may have some rules and you will want to respect those rules. But other than that, no pants. That’s really the biggest perk because we all might wear pants but we would rather that they weren’t a part of our lives. It’s always been the dream to have the apartment that Carrie had or the place Mr. Big bought the couple because the closets are a favorite of all. You have an idea of what you want — we all want Instagram-worthy homes. Let me be the first to say, you don’t need the townhouse if it’s going to make you go broke. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, this renting thing is a big deal and you need your options.
Knowing key information can help you along the way. If you don’t have anyone with you to view the place, you’re going to be the person that has to ask all the questions and how can you ask any questions if you haven’t done this before? Google is a great asset. There are a few things that you can ask and focus on.
Things I did wrong while renting
With my first place, I never asked about an estimate for utilities and you can imagine my heartache when my roommate and I received a $300 AEP bill. Turns out, our landlord didn’t fix the furnace or central air system and we were suffering because of that. Not only were utilities outrageous but we didn’t check our surroundings and there were quite some characters around campus. To be honest, we were blinded by how pretty this place was because it was pretty. Imagine a white brick fireplace and beige walls with white borders. And it came with a washer-dryer set so we were sold. That was my first experience of needing to learn to budget and find a place with a better price.
My second place was an upgrade. I had two roommates at this point and we were in a townhouse that was part of a duplex so we had a pool. It was a pretty nice area, there was never really any parking so it was a struggle from time to time. Major mistake, we never came to a roommate agreement so there were many times when we bumped heads. It sucked and we suffered. Another thing that wasn’t accounted for was reading reviews because this place tried to scam us out of money at the end of it all. They kept ‘losing’ my roommate’s check until I wrote the BBB and all of a sudden, all charges disappeared. Read up on the management that you are renting from, it can make or break your decision.
Third time’s the charm, right? Wrong. I lived on my own a year ago and that was a test. I just said yes when I walked into the place because I was on a time crunch and had to get a new place in weeks. I moved into a one bedroom in Clintonville but not the nice part of Clintonville. One of my neighbors left me notes on my car — it freaked me out. I didn’t have central air so I had a a/c unit that was only in my living room and was suppose to keep my entire apartment cool. Someone took my packages which is not cool. Management was actually pretty snooty and I BBB’d them after I signed a lease and they were just terrible. They fit my budget at the time, though.
Now, I’m currently renting a two-bedroom garden style condo. I love it. I really looked into different places this time around and I do have a roommate but we’re both never here at the same time. It’s quaint, gray walls + white trim, and hardwood floors in the main room. It could be Instagram worthy if I had the time to really decorate and do it up. My landlord is pretty awesome and she’s so nice. She brought us a batch of cookies for Christmas and I really like her. You really have to invest time in your process and meet with people that aren’t just about getting the place rented out but cares about their tenants.
What You Need To Know
This is me, being real and giving you an idea of some things to ask so you don’t have to deal with what I dealt with. Plus, it’s nice to go into a place and have questions to ask without relying on someone else.
This is important — some places are pretty cool and will let you rent month-to-month at a higher price or establish a short term lease for a higher price tag. You do have long term lease and those usually are 12+ months. I’ve always had a twelve or thirteen-month lease. If you don’t have plans to up and leave, a long lease might be beneficial for you because that price tag is lower and you don’t have to worry about moving and those feeds. If you don’t want to be stuck in one place for too long or you don’t know your next move, work out terms to apply to that. Don’t get stuck in a lease or have to pay a lease buy-out. That’s just the length of your lease, you also have to focus on pets and if you can hang things on the wall. Ask all the questions you can so you know what you can do in your unit.
Enlist the help that you can get! Moving takes a lot of your energy. You’re going to have boxes on boxes on boxes that you’ll need help carrying. Save up for the move, I promise you want to do this. U-Haul isn’t overly expensive but you do have pay if you go over the miles you stated you would drive and it’s a little bit scary to have this truck in your control that costs so much money. Groupon is your best friend. I found movers through Groupon for my last move and it only costs me $100 for two hours — they literally moved everything from my old apartment to the moving truck and then into my new place. If you don’t want to get movers, ask friends or family. My brother has always been helpful when I don’t have movers. Put together a plan in advance so you aren’t running around and feeling overwhelmed.
You need to account for a lot when it comes to renting — renters insurance, utilities, rent, application fee, deposits, pets, etc. It will all start to add up as you are beginning to get closer to your move-in date or you just moved in. Not only does it add up when you are just starting out but throughout the time you spend in your place, you’re going to want to decorate or splurge on something new. You need to create a budget that is feasible and keeps you on track. Don’t miss out on rent or you’ll get a late fee tacked onto the money you already owe and that adds up! Do what works for you and make sure you’re on time.
Location and Distance
Know your surroundings. Not only is this important for when you are out and about, it’s also important for the location of where you are going to stay. You should take in the neighborhood that you are viewing and figure out if it looks safe to you. Dig deep and look up crime stats. Obviously, any place can be hit by someone who wants to make their way in but you can take precautions. I’m a fan of Google’s Street View so I can know what the neighborhood looks like before I commit to a viewing. Make sure that you map and see how far different places are from the unit. You want to make sure that your job isn’t too far, home, or your friends. If distance is a decision-maker for you, make sure to really map things when you’re viewing and figure out mileage and all that fun stuff.
The decor is important. Furniture is important. Figure out whether you can paint or hang things on the one. Find out what is allowed to be done so you can go all out. Craigslist can be your best friend, same as OfferUp and many other secondhand stores. Wayfair is pretty affordable you can find a couch for under $500 and I think that’s pretty good. Ikea will definitely be your favorite spot. This is the perfect place for affordable furniture. Stick to the necessities before going all out on paintings and tapestries. Not only are things like furniture important but find out what you must do when it comes time to move out. You need to make sure that you return everything to how your lease states.
Roommates and pets
Accommodate for things that include other important factors. Are you going to be living with someone? If so, do you have a roommate agreement or things you want the other person to respect? It’s important to discuss your wants and needs to a potential roommate so that you don’t bump heads. Your roommate should be someone you get along with for the most part and someone you can count on. Don’t forget your pet! If you have a pet, there is probably a fee for them if they’re a cat or dog. Dog or cat proof your place so that you don’t have to deal with too much damage from your wild pet.
This falls into line with the location you — you want to assess the location and determine the type of security you might need. If you’re like me, you have a dog which can bark and scare people off. My big puppy has a ferocious bark that I’m ever so grateful for. There are many things you can invest in for security from cameras and alarms to having your own weapon like a bat. Better safe than sorry, always remember that. Do what you have to do to protect yourself and your home. Install new locks and invest in a latch for the door, whatever makes you comfortable. Check with your landlord for information about the area and what security measures you can take.
If you’re wondering if you should still rent, go for it. If you can afford it and you’re ready for that life move, do it. Living on your own is the best thing over. When you have a place to call your own, it’s a great feeling. Are you really ready? It’s a commitment depending on if it’s an apartment, condo, townhouse, or house — you have to commit and put a term on it. Make sure you are down for the cause and that you’re going to be happy at the end of the day. Where we live says a lot about us.
Create a wishlist before you start your search and see what makes or breaks your list. Renting is a big step and commitment. Make sure you can handle it before taking on this new responsibility.
What’s your favorite thing about your place?
If you could, pin this when you get a chance! Thanks in advance, you’re the best.