Renting on your own for the first time is a big step, not to be taken lightly. Whether you are moving away from home for the first time, starting your first job, or moving off-campus, it’s important to know what to expect. 

1. Make sure to see plenty of places

You could just go see one place and it ends up being your dream rental. This is likely not the case. Go visit and tour plenty of places, and keep a list with notes about each place, such as the size, price, amenities, utilities, or whatever information you find useful.

2. Read Yelp reviews

Take all reviews with a grain of salt. Most reviews are only made to complain. Just pay attention to things that are important to you.

3. Ask people who live there what they think

A lot of states are not allowed to tell you about the demographic who lives there. Ask people you see while visiting for their view.

4. Ask around the neighborhood about the complex you like

Ask for suggestions. Most people will be more than helpful.

5. Know that rent fluctuates all the time

If there is a low price, usually apartments will lock in a quote for 24 to 48 hours if you are interested in renting.

6. Know your budget and how much you are willing to spend.

Stay within your budget. There is always extra costs and you want to be prepared for it!

7. Keep in mind that most places require renters insurance.

You can typically pay in full for the year instead of paying monthly. This will save you a decent amount of money.

8. Dependent upon where you live, utilities can cost an additional $250+ on top of your rent if not included.

These utilities include cable, water, Internet, gas, electricity, etc.

9. Find out how mail and packages work at the complex you like.

This to me is a deal breaker. I did not want to have to go to the main office and pick up a package after they’ve scanned it in, especially not during office hours. I wanted somewhere where the packages can be just dropped off at your front door if that’s what you preferred.

10. Find out how parking works at the complex. 

Some places are first come, first serve parking, so it may be difficult to secure a close spot every time you get back from somewhere. Other places have assigned uncovered parking. A lot of places offer paid covered parking or a garage (usually not attached to your actual apartment) for an additional monthly fee of $10-$200 depending on what you are getting.

11. Check the crime statistics in the area you are looking.

Search registries and documents that may be helpful in this.

12. Learn about the safety measures in place at the place you are looking.

Some places have security living onsite; some have safety patrol that comes around every night. It is worth finding out this information just in case.

13. Talk to the leasing adviser about any and all concerns you may have.

They are there to help, but keep in mind that there are some questions they may not be able to answer.

14. Keep in mind this is likely not your forever home, and if necessary, you can break your lease. 

Usually, the lease break fee is about the same as one months rent. If you are desperate to get out or find that you have to move, this is an option. It may be costly, but it is something worth knowing.

Maggie B
FFL Cabinet Member
Maggie is a student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She's studying Mechanical Engineering with Premed Specialization and Political Science. If her life had background music, it would be Fox News. She's a full time animal lover and spends most of her free time taking pictures of her cat. She loves politics, gold, glitter, pink, pens, lipstick, designer purses, Lilly Pultizer, and Kate Spade.

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