I remember the first time I moved into my first rental property (not counting my freshman year dorm), it was a cottage-esque house in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I lived there with 2 other girls who were already my close friends. This is an actual picture from Google Streetview of my house.
There are a few funny things that come to mind when I think about how little my friends and I knew about renting at the time. First of all, my roommates and I had no idea we had to change vent filters. I mean, most “kids” never deal with this at home, so why would we have known to think about it? So, kids, change your filters! If you don't, it can be bad for your air system and your allergies.
Also, I remembered that my parents would always turn down the heat during the winter when we went on vacation. Well, I guess I misunderstood that concept and thought it meant you completely turned it off. Not a smart idea, when you have a 2 week winter break, and it’s 30 degrees outside. It took forever for our house to heat back up when we returned from that break!
Anyways, enough about my mistakes. Here are some first time renter tips to consider when you decide to rent your first property.
Budget is so important. Finding a place to live where you’ll be happy is essential, but going outside your budget is a stress that you don’t want to deal with every single month. Create a budget before you start hunting for your rental property and factor in estimates for your bills and other expenditures to make sure that you are not spreading yourself too thin.
Remember security deposits: Not only will you have monthly rent and bills when you sign a lease, you will also have to pay a security deposit, which can be first and last month’s rent. That can really add up.
Schedule your rent payments. Make a calendar item a few days before rent is due so you never make a late payment.
Read & understand your lease. This agreement is a real legal document and you are held accountable to it. What day do you have to pay your rent by? Is there a fee (probably so) if you pay it a few days late? How many days notice do you need to give before you move out? Can you have pets? If so, is there a weight restriction? Can you paint your walls a new color? These are just some of the many questions that are answered in your lease. Read before you sign.
Pick your roommates wisely. Living with someone can be very different from just being friends. Pick a roommate who is reliable and clean. You don’t want to be hounding someone for rent, especially if your name is the only one on the lease. Plus, cleaning up after your roommate is bound to cause friction.
Lastly, Get Renters Insurance. Renters Insurance is so important to have and can protect you and your belongings in the event of a robbery. For scenarios where renters insurance covers you, visit our previous post here.