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First Time Apartment Renter’s Guide

Follow these tips from Summerwind Apartments in Garner and rent your first apartment with confidence!

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Preparation Is Key To a Successful Renting Experience

Renting your first apartment is an exciting time in your life and you may be tempted to run out and sign up to get the newest apartment in the best neighborhood so you can move in as quickly as possible. However, you don’t want to have your first rental experience turn into a bad one because you didn’t take the time to do your research or didn’t know to ask particular questions. Jumping into such a big commitment quickly and without giving it much thought can be a recipe for disaster.

The best way to get started is to do your homework. Determine how much you can afford, the location you want to live in, and how far of a drive you’re comfortable with when it comes to your job or going to school. Doing some research ahead of time can go a long way in making sure you’re prepared so you can make your decision with confidence when you find the right apartment.

Questions To Ask When Researching a New Apartment

  • What amenities are included?
  • Are pets allowed and if so, is there a fee?
  • Is parking included?
  • What are your lease terms?
  • Do you have short-term leases?
  • Which utilities are included in the rent?
  • How much is the security deposit?
  • How much notice do I have to give before vacating?
  • What is the penalty for breaking a lease?

Important considerations when looking for an apartment:

Establish a Budget

The very first step in starting your apartment search isn’t to decide where you want to live or even how many bedrooms you’ll need, it’s establishing a budget so you can use it as a guide to make your search as easy as possible. You can spend days and even weeks going from apartment to apartment taking tours and trying to narrow down your list. But, having a clear budget in mind ahead of time will not only ensure that you don’t get in over your head, but it will also allow you to quickly rule out those apartments that don’t fit within your monetary guidelines.

Consider Needs Vs. Wants

First-time renters may be overwhelmed with the options and amenities that are available to them in today’s rental market, but if you don’t keep a good head on your shoulders and decide ahead of time what you really need versus what you want, you could end up in an apartment that has a bowling alley and private spa, but it’s 50% over your budget and a 90-minute commute to work. The best thing to do is to consider how much space you need. Do you need three bedrooms or will a one-bedroom do just fine? On the other hand, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most for your money so if you can find an apartment that offers the perfect balance between meeting your needs and offering included extras, such as a pool or workout room, it’s a win-win.

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Pick a Location

Next to staying within budget, location is perhaps the most important factor in choosing an apartment. Do you want to live close to the city where you might have a shorter commute to work, but a smaller apartment will cost you more money? Or, do you prefer a quieter, more laid-back community and don’t mind driving an extra 15 minutes to be able to get more for your hard-earned dollar? It might be helpful to see just how far your commute will be so if you can, try making the drive from your apartment to your place of work at the same time and day you will be commuting to get an accurate measurement of just how long it will take. But, when all is said and done, there's no right answer with regard to location and only you can decide what is right for you.

Do You Have a Pet?

Unlike buying your own home, if you’re renting an apartment, don’t just assume that you’ll be able to take your dog or cat with you. Some people don’t realize that many apartments don’t allow pets. That’s why, if you have a pet or are planning to get one in the near future, you’ll have to narrow down your list of possible apartments right from the start to include those that allow pets. Even if you find a few places that do allow them, always make sure to inquire about their pet policy. Most apartments charge a security deposit and monthly fee for pets and they will likely have rules regarding the type or quantity of pets you can have. It might take a little extra work to find the perfect place for you and your furbaby, but it will be well worth it once you’re all settled in.

Gather Your Information

Some first-time renters may not realize that they have to do more than just hand over their rent money to get an apartment. Most landlords will require you to first fill out an application and be approved before you can sign a lease. To simplify this process, it will help if you have the following items handy when you start looking for an apartment:

  • Pay Stubs
  • W-2 Tax Form
  • Credit Score
  • Bank Statements
  • Rental History
  • Work History
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Read the Lease and Ask Questions

Before you sign any binding and legal agreement, it’s important to have a good understanding of what you’re committing to. That’s why you should always take the time to thoroughly read the lease and ask any questions you have. You don’t want to wait until you’ve already signed the lease to find out that they don’t accept pets or that you have to sign a year-long lease when you’ll be potentially moving again in the spring. While you might not remember to ask everything, making a list and taking the time to review it before making a decision will help make your renting experience that much easier.

Consider Getting Renter’s Insurance

Some landlords require renters to have insurance in order to live on their property but even if they don’t, it’s still a good idea. Renter’s insurance helps cover your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged but it can also help protect you financially if someone else gets injured on your property. Fires, natural disasters, and other emergencies happen all the time and in the unfortunate event that it happens to you, you’ll want to make sure that you’re protected.

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Prepare For Your Move

Whether you decide to rent a truck, hire a professional moving service, or bribe friends, don’t wait until the last minute to enlist moving help.

Moving day can be hectic, so don’t forget to pack a box of essentials to bring with you on your first trip. Some items you may want to bring include cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper plates, and plasticware.

Before you sign a lease, plan a walkthrough of the apartment with the landlord to identify any issues that were present before you moved in so you don’t get charged for it later.

Looking For Apartments in Garner?

If you’re ready to find a place of your own and are looking for apartments in Garner, we invite you to take a look at Summerwind Apartments. We offer one, two, and three-bedroom apartments with features like large walk-in closets, granite countertops in the kitchen, stainless steel appliances, washer/dryer connections, and private patios or balconies.

Looking for pet-friendly apartments? At Summerwind, we love our pets, and pet owners will love our onsite bark park. Looking for an apartment with amenities you’ll actually use? We have a 24-hour fitness center, playground, covered grilling area, and a large saltwater pool, just to name a few.

Stop by or schedule a tour on our website. We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to our community!

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