Moving into your first place is exciting. Lots of new things to experience, being away from home or the dorms for the first time is important to organize, plan, budget and savor the experience. Here are a few things to consider.
How Much Can You Spend Each Month on Rent?
This first step is the most important. The brutal reality question is–can you afford to move to your first apartment? A lot of new renters may not know exactly what paying bills involves. It includes more than rent–you need to consider your electricity, parking, transportation, cable, water, trash, telephone, HOA (homeowners association). Also, you need to look at your personal costs. Entertainment, food, gas, etc. If you need to know how much that might be, then write down everything that you currently spend on each of these. For the things you haven’t spent yet, like utilities, check out the average cost of them in your state or call your local utilities companies to get an average estimate for the size of apartment you are looking to rent.
Most apartments/houses for rent require both first months’ rent and last months’ rent when you sign the lease. So even before you move-in, you’ll already need double the amount you’ll be paying each month. Also, to be safe, you should always have at least three months worth of rent and living expenses in your savings account. This protects you should any emergency arise, such as unemployment, illness, etc…
This varies from building to building. Some places will require anything from $500 to an additional months’ rent. Ask before you sign the lease. Also, make sure you’re clear on what is considered damage versus day-to-day wear and tear.
If you have any pets, a pet deposit is becoming more common. These monies are in place to pay for any damage or loss of revenue to the building owner due to animals on the property. Again, ask your landlord what they consider “damage or loss of revenue” to ensure you receive the full amount when you move out.
There are so many things you’ll need in your first home. These things may seem small and trivial, but their costs can add up quickly. Go through each room and think about the things you need on a daily basis. For the kitchen make sure you include small appliances, pantry supplies, spices (these really add up), dishes, flatware, towels, soap, dish rack, food staples, pots and pans, containers, garbage can, etc…