Renting your own apartment can be very exciting. But, you need to find the best way to rent an apartment in Chicago to succeed. The last thing you want is to be locked in a lease in an uncomfortable situation. This guide is to clarify the renting process and give you expert tips on doing it right. Follow these 10 easy steps to learn how to rent an apartment in Chicago.
1. Before You Start
Before you start looking for an apartment, you need to think things through. There are a couple of crucial questions that you need to ask before you jump into the apartment renting process.
Hands down, the best way to find the right apartment in Chicago is to know your budget.
Know Your Budget
What’s your budget? You don’t want to rent an apartment that’s above your budget. No matter how amazing it is. The money you have to spend on your rent also influences what Chicago neighborhoods you can live in.
How do you calculate your budget for rent? It’s easy. First, take your net monthly income. This is the money you have without taxes. Then, you deduct the following expenses:
- Regular monthly expenses: car payments, student loans, gym memberships, etc.
- Utilities: electricity, gas, water, WiFi (around $200/month)
- Groceries: enough food to keep your fridge stocked
- Emergency funds: the money you need for unexpected expenses, such as a flat tire or a trip to the dentist (10% of your regular monthly expenses)
- Party money: the funds you need to join your friends on a night out
- Savings: if you’re saving up for a car or a house, it’s best to calculate this into your regular budget as well
Now, whatever amount you’re left with is your rent budget. Don’t go above this line. Luckily, there are things you can do to help you get the apartment you want within your budget.
Consider Getting Roommates
If you were thinking of renting an apartment alone, but you fell in love with a place a little over your budget, consider moving in with someone else. Having a roommate can significantly decrease your rent. After all, you’re sharing your home with someone else.
Plus, it can be fun to have people around. As long as you can agree on a few house rules, you’re bound to have a great time living together. Some important topics to discuss with your new potential roommates are:
- Smoker or a non-smoker?
- Introvert or an extrovert?
- Early bird or night owl?
- Do you have pets?
- Cook at home or eat out?
- Are you clean or messy?
- Do you prefer sharing things or keeping things separate?
Know Your Credit Score
Before you rent your apartment, you need to think ahead. When you sign a lease, your landlord needs to know if you can pay your rent. Your word alone isn’t enough.
That’s why you need to have a good credit score. If you don’t have one, you’ll probably need a cosigner. A cosigner is another person who vouches for you. If you can’t pay your rent, they’re liable for it.
That’s why it’s important to know your credit score before renting. This will help you realize whether or not you’ll need to further negotiate before getting your new place.
How Long Do You Want the Tenancy For?
Most landlords offer the tenancy for a fixed time. The two most common leases are 6- and 12-months long. While it’s fairly easy to extend, it’s much harder to break a lease. Make sure you think about your future plans before you find an apartment to rent. The last thing you want is to be stuck somewhere you don’t want to (or can’t) live.
2. Find an Apartment
Now that you’re aware of your finances, it’s time to look for an apartment! Arguably the most exciting part of renting. You can find apartments on apartment listing sites and apps like Brixbid, Zillow, or Apartments.com. Some renters find their dream home through letting agents or directly from the landlord.
How you can find the best apartment in Chicago is a lot more important than where you find it. You need to know the most important elements of your new apartment: location and size. Plus, you want a location with good transport links to your place of work. And you want a property with enough space and bedrooms to fit you, your roommates, or your pets if you have any.
You can also make a list of needs and wants. Write down what is essential for you in your future apartment. A balcony, living room, or garage may be things you can’t live without. And then write down what you wish your dream apartment could have. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a yard, a fireplace, or a rooftop terrace? Just be mindful of the extra costs these luxuries can carry.
With all this in mind, look for your dream apartment. Generally, the closer you look to the Loop, the more expensive Chicago apartments will be. So, if you want to save quickly, find an apartment a little further out. Don’t worry, the transport options in Chicago are excellent.
3. View the Property
If you found an ideal property, it’s time to take a look at it in person. Arrange a viewing with the landlord or letting agent. When you’re at the viewing, compare the reality of the apartment with your expectations.
Don’t be too shy to ask questions. Knowing more about the utilities, transportation costs, and living conditions can help you make an informed decision. Even if your first viewing didn’t turn out well, you can always arrange another.
Keep looking for an apartment until you find the right one. With a bit of patience and persistence, you can find your dream apartment.
4. Submit an Offer
You planned, you looked, and you found. Amazing! Now, you need to submit an offer to the landlord or letting agent. This is how you let them know that you’re seriously interested in the property.
Sometimes, letting agents will ask for a holding deposit to submit an offer. This is how they know you’re serious. This money is usually a week’s worth of rent, and you’ll get it back once the offer is accepted or declined.
Usually, the landlord or letting agent will have a standard offer letter they can give you. You need to fill it out with your details and send it back to them.
Negotiate Your Rent in Chicago
Your offer is your first (and best) chance to negotiate your rent. The asking price of any property is a guide. It’s not set in stone. But, there’s definitely a smart way you can haggle to get your dream apartment with a lower rent.
Submit your offer with your ideal rent price (or slightly below). Make sure the price is still acceptable and equals the true value of the property. Looking at the asking prices of similar apartments in the area can be helpful.
5. Negotiate the Price and Terms with the Landlord
If the landlord accepts your offer, you have another opportunity to negotiate your rent. Agree on a price you feel is fair and reasonable. Luckily, you have some bargaining power as a future tenant.
Your landlord may significantly decrease your rent if you offer to stay longer. They may prefer a longer lease to more money. Or, if you have money saved up, they can give you a discount for paying a part of your rent upfront.
Alternatively, you can also negotiate other terms of your tenancy. Think about what furniture or amenities you need to live comfortably. Perhaps your landlord can get these for you. It never hurts to ask.
6. Sign the Lease
Before you sign the lease, your future landlord or lease agency will run a background check on you. They’ll look at your previous renting history and your credit score. Basically, they’re looking for evidence that you can confidently pay your rent.
Once your credit check goes through, and you discussed everything with your landlord, it’s time to sign the lease. Read through it carefully several times. This is a legally binding document, and you need to know everything about it.
Don’t overlook this step. It’s a common one that renters skip and the last thing you want is to be surprised but the terms of a lease you’re stuck in for a year.
7. Get Renters Insurance
Congratulations! You’ve rented your first apartment. You signed the lease and it’s time to pop the champagne and celebrate. Well, not quite… There are steps you need to take to make your move-in and your life as trouble-free as possible.
One of these is renters insurance. Although your landlord may have property insurance, you’re liable for taking care of the apartment. Read through your lease to see what you need to do exactly. You can rest assured that you won’t have any major expenses if you get renters insurance early on.
8. Inspect the Property Before Moving In
You signed the lease, got the key, and you’re ready to move in. The process is almost over. Almost. It’s best practice to go to the apartment before you move in and inspect it.
Take pictures of the state of the property. Are there scratches on the floor? Evidence of water damage? How many glasses are in the kitchen cupboards? Every detail counts. Make sure you document it all, because you’re liable to return the apartment in the same condition.
9. Pack Your Bags and Move
Lease? Done. Inspection? Done. Now, you’re really ready to move. Pack your bags, and head out to your new place. Make sure to have everything on this list of 101 things you need to make your life comfortable in your new home.
Looking back on it, renting an apartment wasn’t even difficult. But, could it have been easier?
The best way to find an apartment in Chicago is with a rental site like Brixbid.
10. Find and Rent an Apartment Better With Brixbid
Brixbid is the only site you need to rent an apartment in Chicago. This rental auction platform will guide you through the rental process from listing to lease signing. Best of all, you can instantly negotiate your rent without the awkwardness of haggling.
1. Find Your Dream Home on Brixbid
Browse our listings to find your dream Chicago apartment. You can book a viewing of your favorite places too.
2. Bid to Rent at the Best Price
When you know which apartment you want to rent, you simply submit a bid for it. This is better than a plain offer. You instantly negotiate your rent without any embarrassing moments spent haggling directly with the landlord. And if you win the auction, the place is as good as yours.
3. Win the Right to Rent
You can submit a bid that wins when the auction expires. Or, if you’re dead-set on your dream home, you can also apply for the “Rent-it-now” price. Although this is the asking price, this option guarantees that you’ll outdo the competition.
When you win, Brixbid will complete the credit check for you. This keeps your personal information more secure. Plus, it’s also easier for the landlord. Once it comes through and everything looks good, your landlord will approve your request to rent.
You just won your dream Chicago home at a better price with only a push of a button.
4. Sign the Lease Online
If you think the convenience Brixbid offers is over, you’re in for a surprise. You can also sign your lease directly on our platform. This is just another way why Brixbid is the easiest and most convenient way to rent an apartment in Chicago.
The Best Way to Find an Apartment in Chicago is Brixbid
Even if you know how to rent an apartment, it’s a stressful process. Finding a good place at a good price is hard enough. But then you need to haggle with your landlord, negotiate the terms, and cover your legal side as well.
It’s all a lot of work.
Or, you can make the renting process a lot easier with Brixbid. Just find your dream home online, make an offer to the landlord, and automatically complete the background check. The ease, transparency, and potential savings make Brixbid the best platform for potential tenants.
If you truly want the best way to find an apartment in Chicago, check out Brixbid’s rental auction site!