A Student’s Guide to Renting (2019 Updates)

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College Apartment

Attending college is expensive, and an expense you might not be prepared for yet is renting an apartment or a house. No need to stress, though. Knowing the details behind renting will get you prepped and ready to rent your own spot in no time.

What You Want to Consider Before Shopping

Just like when you’re buying a home, the first thing you want to consider when finding a home to rent is what you can afford. Rent will vary drastically depending on what area you are attending school in.

The monthly rent is not the only cost you need to plan for though. Here are a few other costs you want to consider:

  • Electricity: monthly expense
  • Water: monthly expense
  • Gas: monthly expense
  • Wifi: monthly expense
  • Security Deposit: potentially refundable
  • Pet Deposit
  • Holding Fees

Now, it is a possibility that you will not be required to cover all of these expenses in your specific situation, but that is information that is crucial to find out from the landlord.

You want to make absolutely sure that, along with your monthly rent, you are in a position to afford these other miscellaneous costs of renting.

Having a roommate, or multiple roommates, can substantially help with these costs.

When choosing a roommate, you will want to make sure the two of you will be compatible living partners.

Here are some things you might want to reflect on when choosing a roommate:

  • Do they have pets?
  • How do you plan to split home responsibilities?
  • Do you live similar lifestyles?
  • Will they be able to reliably afford rent and utilities?
  • Do you trust them around your personal belongings?
  • Who will they be inviting over?

Don’t be scared of having a roommate though.

Often times everything will turn out just fine even if you guys aren’t soulmates. Just make sure you trust them, and are willing to be flexible since you will be sharing a home with another person.

What Type of Property is Best for You?

When looking to rent you will either be renting an apartment or a house. There are pros and cons to both these property types. It is best to do a little research to see which one is a better fit for you.

Apartment Complex

Units within an apartment complex will often have less square footage than a house, but you will also likely only have one to two roommates to share the space with.

Complexes are often likely to have community spaces such as, laundry and mail rooms. It is also possible that you will experience noise and commotion living in close quarters with other units.

A prominent advantage of living in an apartment complex though is that there is a greater chance of an onsite or extremely responsive landlord.

House

First and foremost, a house will most likely require you to live with more people. While this can be a deterrent, it means that utilities are split between more people, potentially making them cheaper for you.

A house will also likely have amenities such as a washing machine that you would only have to share with your roommates.

Having multiple roommates though means less privacy in shared areas like the bathroom.

Before Signing the Lease

There are a few things that you want to make sure you do before signing a lease. Speaking with the landlord in person is one of the most important. If you decide to rent from them they will need personal information from you potentially including:

  • Rental History
  • Social Security and Date of Birth
  • Criminal History
  • Co-signer Information

During this meeting there are also a few questions you will want to ask your new landlord:

  • Does the unit have central cooling and heat?
  • Are you allowed to sublease if you move home for the summer?
  • What damages would you be liable for?
  • How much does is cost to use the washer and dryer if they are not in the unit?
  • What is the typical monthly cost of utilities?
  • Are there any pet policies?

While this is an extremely important meeting, before sitting down and signing all the paperwork you will want to do a walkthrough of the property.

This is to make sure that you are positive you want to rent the property you have found. Here is a checklist of some of the things you might want to look during your walkthrough:

  • The locks work are working properly
  • All the light switches work
  • Closet size
  • Water pressure of the shower
  • Marks or holes on the walls

Happy Hunting!

Finding your first home to rent is an extremely exciting time, you finally get to personalize your home however you want! You now have the freedom that you never dreamed of having living in the dorms or with your parents.

This freedom obviously comes with more responsibility though. Make sure that you are educated on what you are doing when renting so you don’t get in over your head.

If you do that this process will be fun and exciting instead of stressful, and isn’t that what everyone wants?