There’s no doubt that your first move into a new apartment is filled with excitement, fun, and a lot of questions. It’s easy to get wrapped up in planning your new aesthetic, what posters you’ll hang, and what your core design colors will be, but it’s a lot more important in your apartment search to consider what you can afford.
If you’re looking for your first apartment, here are some tips to help you find a great home without undue financial stress.
1. Build a budget
Your first instinct may be to hop online and browse apartments to get an idea of prices. While it’s great to know what you’re getting into, it’s better to know exactly what you can afford before your browse. It’s recommended that rent accounts for 30 percent of your monthly income, so determine what that number is for you.
While 30 percent is ideal, it is flexible. Look through your last several bank statements and figure out what you spend on gas, insurance, and other necessities, as well as what you spend on takeout, gym memberships, and other wants. Your necessities should account for 20 percent of your monthly income, while wants is 30. Use this rent budget calculator to estimate other costs like utilities and to see exactly how your pay breaks down.
2. Plan for Moving and Furnishing Costs
Now that you have a better handle on your finances, you’ll want to determine what you still need for your apartment. You likely have bedroom furniture you can bring from home, but you’ll also want a couch and dining table from the start. Other needs include cleaning supplies, cookware, towels, toiletries, and groceries. These can add up quickly, so make sure you have enough saved.
You may be able to get free cookware and furniture from friends or family looking to upgrade their decor, so be sure to ask around. You’ll also want to keep an eye on local thrift stores and resell sites, like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, for good deals on gently used items.
Don’t forget to save some extra cash for moving, too. Professional movers can save you from the most stressful part of moving, which is the actual process of moving your belongings. While you can DIY your move, the time and rental costs add up quickly. You’ll want to get a truck, dolly, moving blankets, and friends to help you out (who would appreciate a thank you!), and at the end of the day, it’s much nicer to save the sweat and enjoy your new home.
3. Plan What You Want in an Apartment
Once you know you can afford the move, you can begin the planning process. This begins with a list of your needs, wants, and dislikes in a potential apartment. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for and where you’re willing to compromise can save you a ton of time and energy during the actual apartment search. Don’t forget to account for things like public transit and pet policies.
If you’re planning to move in with a roommate then they need to be heavily involved in this process. You likely have different needs and wants and it’s best to compromise before you start looking or get your hopes up for a place that won’t meet everyone’s needs.
4. Begin Your Apartment Search
Now the fun can really begin! Apartment hunting sites are a great place to look to find affordable neighborhoods with the amenities you’re searching for. They also tend to include helpful data like crime, commuter, and bike scores.
When you know which areas interest you, you can search online or explore the neighborhood in-person to find available apartments. Collect a list of potential rentals and see what pricing and amenity information you can find online. Once you’ve narrowed down the list by what you can afford, schedule a tour, and prepare the questions you want to ask.
5. Plan Your Move
Congratulations! By this point, your apartment search is done, you’ve chosen the apartment that best meets your needs and are ready to move out. Make sure you get an official move-in date and time that you can pick up your apartment key from the landlord. Then call around to local movers to determine their rates and availability.
When you’ve scheduled your date it’s time to get packing! The sooner you organize, the better. Just make sure you label your boxes by room and prepare a box with everything you’ll need your first night home.
6. Unpack and Decorate
Finally, it’s time to make your new apartment a home, and to turn all of your Pinterest boards into reality. Make sure you’ve reviewed your lease agreement before you get to painting or hanging frames that may damage the walls.
Finding Help with Moving Professionals
We hope you found this blog post on Apartment Hunting 101: How Much Rent Can You Afford? useful. Be sure to check out our post on The New Apartment Checklist for First-Time Movers for more great tips!
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