Your Guide to Living Alone for the First Time
Whether you’re moving out of a dorm or your parent’s house, getting an apartment at 18 is a big deal. Since it’s your first time, renting an apartment can be overwhelming, and anything could go wrong. But, with the right information, you can rent your first apartment and move in without trouble.
Discover what you need to know when getting an apartment for the first time.
What Documents Do You Need to Get an Apartment?
Like any other rental scenario, getting an apartment at 18 also requires a couple of documents. These documents should contain information about you and how you intend to pay your rent. The essence of these documents is to prove your financial stability and confirm your identity.
Some of the documents you’ll need include:
- A document stating your proof of income, e.g., pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, a job offer letter, and so on
- Identification documents like driver’s license, passport, social security card, or other state-issued IDs
Apart from these, your landlord might ask for some other documents. But, these are the essential documents that most landlords require.
Things to Consider Before Choosing an Apartment
The factors below will help you to determine if you’re making the right decision. Think of each one properly before choosing an apartment.
- Budget: How much can you spend on rent? Don’t forget that you’ll most likely have to put down a security deposit or move-in charge as well. Most landlords require you to earn at least three times your rent.
- Neighborhood: How close do you want to live to work or school? Does the neighborhood feel safe? Is the apartment close to restaurants, supermarkets, and things to do? Ask yourself these questions before you decide on your first apartment.
- Future expenses: Don’t forget that you’ll have to pay for internet, utility bills, and maybe even renter’s insurance. Usually, these costs aren’t included in your rent.
- Amenities available: What does the apartment come with? Is it furnished? Does it come with a dishwasher or a microwave? The more amenities it comes with, the less you’ll have to buy when you move in.
Step-By-Step Guide on Getting Your First Apartment
1. Set a Budget
Apartments come at different rent prices. The price depends on the location, furnishing, and amenities, among other factors. Setting a budget for how much rent you can afford can help you save money.
2. View Listings and Schedule Showings
Once you know your budget and the area you want to live in, you can start browsing listings. You can filter your results, so you can quickly find available apartments within your budget.
Once you find an apartment you’re interested in, you can schedule a showing. These are free visits organized by either the landlord or a rental agency. They’re a great opportunity to see the apartment with your own eyes.
3. Know How to Spot Scams and Fakes
There are many good-looking apartments with low prices. And as good as it sounds, some of them may be scams. Knowing how to identify scams will save you from losing your money. The first sign of fraud is an apartment whose price appears too good to be true.
First-time apartment renters are more susceptible to scams, so you want to be extra careful. One way to ensure an apartment is legitimate is to search trusted apartment listing sites like Brixbid. They’ll also lead your apartment tours and guide you through the rental process while allowing you to work with your budget.
4. Ask Many Questions About the Apartment
Before choosing an apartment, make sure to ask many questions about it. The more information you have, the better your decision will be.
Great questions to ask are:
- How much is the rent?
- Do you need to pay a security deposit?
- Are pets allowed?
- Does the building come with a parking lot?
- How many other tenants are there?
- Will you be paying an extra fee for amenities?
- How cold does it get, or how hot does it get?
Plus, you can ask any other questions that come to mind. Make sure to express all your concerns about the apartment.
5. Submit an Offer
If you found the right apartment and you’re ready to rent it, you’ll need to submit an offer for it.
Remember, the asking price to rent an apartment isn’t set in stone. You can submit a different offer, and negotiate for a lower rent.
If you’re working with an agent, e.g., a Brixbid Plus agent, they can submit an offer on your behalf and position it in the best light to increase your chances of getting it approved.
However, if you aren’t working with an agent or broker, you’ll need to include the following in your application:
- Your offer: How much rent you’re proposing to pay.
- The length of term: How long you’re planning to stay at the property.
- Move-in date: When you’re planning to move in.
- Additional information about you: Are you a student? Do you have a pet?
6. Consider Getting a Cosigner
Landlords need to ensure that you can pay your rent. Unless you have a stable income, savings, or excellent credit, you’ll most likely need a cosigner.
A cosigner can be anyone – a family member, friend, or mentor. Your cosigner is responsible for your rent should you be unable to pay it. Since getting someone to vouch for you like this requires a tremendous amount of trust, getting a cosigner isn’t always easy.
Of course, it’s still possible to rent without a cosigner. But, if you can, lining up a cosigner might make it easier for you to get an apartment at 18.
7. Read the Lease Thoroughly
Before you sign the lease, make sure you read it thoroughly and understand its contents entirely. When you have, read it again. And maybe once more after that, too.
A lease is a legally-binding document. Make sure that you understand the responsibilities you take on when you sign it. Feel free to ask for time to read it, and if you’re unsure about something, ask questions.
Some of the things you should pay attention to are:
- Rent policy and schedule
- Pet and visitors policy
- Trash pickup schedule
- Utilities you’d be paying for and how often you’ll have to pay
If you have any concerns about the lease, voice them before you sign.
8. Pay a Security Deposit or Move-in Fees
A security deposit is money your landlord or a third-party agency holds to assure that you won’t damage the property or skip rent. It’s a very common practice when you’re renting an apartment, though you can occasionally find places that don’t charge a deposit upfront.
Usually, a security deposit is one or two months of your rent.
Understanding the details of your security deposit and taking good care of your apartment makes sure that you get it all back at the end of your tenancy.
In some cases, you may have to pay a non-refundable move-in fee instead of a security deposit. Note that a security deposit is different from move-in fees. A move-in fee covers touchups or other changes your landlord may need to make to the apartment before you move in. An example of such changes is a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
9. Understand the Rules of the Building
Learn about your new home’s restrictions and guidelines before moving in. Some of these include safety standards or cleaning specifications. You should also make sure to abide by these rules strictly.
10. Take Inventory Before You Move In
The last thing you need to do before you pack your bags is taking inventory. Take pictures of everything before you move in. If you notice any damage, document it for reference.
Knowing what things your landlord provides and what you bring yourself can save you a big headache before moving out.
Some Essential Household Items to Buy
Getting an apartment at 18 means you don’t own any household items. So, you’ll need to buy some items to make living in your apartment comfortable – especially if the apartment doesn’t come furnished. Here are some apartment must-haves to start with:
- Cleaning supplies
- First aid kit
- Bathroom essentials
- Basic toiletries
Ready to Find Your First Apartment?
Check out apartment listings on the Brixbid platform to get started!