Tips for the First-Time Renter

Most people become a first-time renter in college or sometime during their early twenties. First-Time Renter, TJ Woods Insurance Agency Inc., Worcester, MAAt this point in one’s life, one probably does not have a lot of experience with budgeting finances or navigating the world of realtors and landlords.

Due to this fact, the first-time renter is much more likely to get a bad deal or be treated unfairly by a landlord, since a first-time renter is seen as naive. Therefore, it is important, as a first-time renter, to arm yourself with enough knowledge to prevent anyone from defrauding you.

The following guide from Apartment Ratings gives advice to the first-time renter on how to smartly navigate apartment living. You will soon know how to budget your money, how to choose an apartment, and what to do to stay safe when living on your own.


A Comprehensive Guide for the First-Time Renter

There are many things you need to consider if you’re about to become a first time-renter. This guide will help you prioritize and think through the main aspects of starting your rental experience. Once you make decisions on these, you’ll be off to a great start.

Create a Budget

You need to budget to determine what amount of rent you can afford. A budget is just a plan on paper showing how you want to spend your money. It takes into account what you have coming in (your income) and how much you have going out (your expenses). There are many free budget worksheets available online. You should get one and create a budget. Your budget should also include the costs of your moving supplies and security deposit.

Decide on a Roommate (or Not)

After you complete your budget you might find out that you can’t afford to pay rent by yourself. The next thing to do then is to think about whether to get a roommate to help pay rent. The upside of having a roommate is that they cut your expenses as tenant to half or more if you get more than one. They can watch your pet when you’re away, and many roommates become friends for a lifetime.

The downside is that your roommate may not pay his share of rent after all. They might move out without notice and with some of your valuables. Finally, there could be tension between the two of you if you’re complete opposites when it comes to noise levels or cleanliness in the apartment. Decide carefully if you want to share your living space with someone else. If you do decide to move in with a roommate, be sure to discuss with them in detail your expectations, concerns, and even how you would end the arrangement if needed.

Decide Where to Rent

One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a first-time renter, besides whether to get a roommate, is where to live. Things to consider are:

  • Proximity to work and/or school
  • Nearby grocery stores
  • Closeness to family and friends
  • Availability of public transportation
  • Research Your Landlord

It can be a nightmare if you get stuck with a bad landlord. When you find apartments that you want to rent, make sure you do some research about your landlord. Ask current tenants about their experiences renting. Check court records for civil and criminal actions involving your landlord through your local court’s website. Search their name using Yahoo!, Bing or Google. It’s important to avoid a landlord who has a reputation of being “problematic.” You’ll have a better chance of getting your deposit back without going to court, and you’ll avoid the headaches of fighting with them while you’re renting.

Now that you’re going to be a first-time renter, you want to plan early. Take at least three months if you can so that you’ll have enough time to make your budget, find a roommate (if needed), find a location, and research your landlord.  This will help your rental experience go better.

Budgeting is extremely important for anyone who is a first-time renter. Many experts encourage first-time renters to utilize the 50/30/20 rule. In this rule of budgeting, 50% of a first-time renter’s monthly earnings should go towards the necessities, i.e., bills, transportation, groceries, minimum loan repayment, etc. The second tier, or the 30% portion of a first-time renter’s paycheck, will go toward other expenses that are not necessary (such as going out to dinner or buying gifts). Finally, the remaining 20% of the budget is allotted for savings and debt repayment over the monthly minimum. This will allow for a balance of necessities and saving, while keeping extraneous purchases in check.

Another important thing to consider as a first-time renter is safety. Oftentimes, an apartment may be attractive due to its low rent, but cheaper apartments are typically located in areas with higher crime. Is it worth saving a little bit extra each month on rent if you have to deal with break-ins or damage to your apartment? Any first-time renter should give this some consideration before signing a lease. Fortunately, there are a variety of useful tools available online to assist the first-time renter in scoping out the crime rates in various neighborhoods.

A great way to ensure that your belongings are safe as a first-time renter is by getting renters insurance. Insurance is recommended for anyone that rents or owns a home or apartment. That way, should anything bad occur (think burglary, natural disasters, etc.) your personal property is covered. Oftentimes, it can actually you cost less per month when you combine renters insurance with your automobile insurance. Contact the agents at TJ Woods Insurance Agency, Inc. to learn more about how you can obtain renters insurance as a first-time renter.

What is your biggest concern as a first-time renter? We would love to answer any questions that you may have in the comments section below.