10 Steps to Renting an Apartment

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So, you’re looking to rent an apartment for the first time, and want to know what steps you should take. Take a look below –

1. Figure out where you want to live

The first step is to figure out which neighborhood you want to live in. This will of course depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Proximity to your work, public transportation, schools, outdoor spaces and recreational facilities
  • Access to food and dining precincts
  • Crime rate of the neighborhood

Once you consider all these aspects, you should be able to narrow down neighborhood choices based on your specific lifestyle.

2. Determine what you can afford

Next, determine what you can afford. This will depend in large part your income and liabilities so if you have existing loan repayments then your budget may be lower than someone on the same income with no liabilities. For a quick gauge, take your monthly family income and divide by 3.

3. Create a ‘wish list’ of features

Next, create a ‘wish list’ of features you want in a rental apartment so you can tick off the list. For example –

  • Do you want to live just 10 minutes away from your workplace?
  • Would you prefer a 2-bedroom apartment so you can have family or friends come and stay over?
  • Do you want plenty of storage with large closets?
  • Would you like a larger kitchen with open floor plan?
  • Do you need a swimming pool on site?
  • Do you want a washer and dryer in your apartment?

Once you are able to create a ‘wish list’ you will find it much easier to narrow down your choices.

4. Start your search online

The next thing to do is to go online and type in ‘apartments in <insert area>’ so you can start shortlisting the complexes that meet your needs and wish list. Try searching with a few different keywords to ensure you are capturing all possibilities in the area. Keep your ‘affordability number’ and ‘wishlist’ handy as you go through the apartments. Write down the contact details of the listing agent or apartments that meet your criteria.

5. Drill down to your three choices

Go back to your list so you can keep eliminating apartments that don’t meet the criteria as much as others. Once you keep filtering out apartments, you should be left with the top three or so choices that are closest to your lifestyle needs.

6. Organize the tour

Once you get your top three apartments or so shortlisted, it is time to arrange an in-person or virtual tour to make your final decision.

7. Ask the tough questions

Make sure to ask the right questions before leasing on the tour, including what are all costs I am responsible for now, and then what costs am I responsible for each month? How long is the lease term? How much notice is required to move out? Can I sublease? Can I have pets? Is parking included? Who handles maintenance? Then, if acceptable, apply.

8. Review the lease

Once you receive the lease from the agent, make sure you carefully review it to ensure the contract has no hidden clauses or issues that could make your life harder later.

9. Ask any questions on the lease

Make sure you consider asking questions about the lease so you get a few things you want included too – or at the very least, clarify issues beforehand so they don’t come back to bite you later.

10. Sign the lease and move in

Once you’re satisfied with everything, your final step is to sign the lease and move in. You can either solicit your friends for help or hire a professional mover.

These steps to leasing an apartment are super easy to follow and protect your interests before you move into a rental.


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