The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your First Apartment in the States

As a part of (in all probability) a relatively new adult life, you can finally enjoy the freedom and luxuries afforded by having your own living space. It is, in this case, your first apartment. It is only natural that you are delighted with the prospect and how it forms an incredible milestone in your journey as an individual. Finally, you can now enjoy all the freedom that comes with having your apartments, like decoration and other aspects related to the apartment’s appearance and lifestyle.

You might indeed find the idea of moving into your first apartment to be incredibly exciting. But finding the right apartment for you can indeed be difficult if not a herculean task. At times, the process can be long and tedious, and stressful enough to overwhelm you. This article is intended to guide you through the process. It will help you to achieve a desirable outcome in as much a painless way as possible. The steps you need to observe are as follows.

Steps To Follow To Arrive At Best Results Painlessly

1. Set A Budget For Your Apartment Rent Or Installment

The first thing you need to consider before you rent an apartment or mortgage is the monthly amount you can potentially pay for the same. It should not exceed one-third of your monthly income. It is a really wise thing to start your apartment search while keeping in mind this figure. You don’t want to exceed this one-third rule of thumb. As it is essential to establish a budget, it is similarly crucial to stick to it. Remember that irrespective of whether you choose to buy or mortgage an apartment, there will be several recurrent and single-time costs associated with the process. The recurrent expenses might include:

  • Rent or monthly mortgage installments
  • And utility bills

Other recurrent expenses that might potentially be there for you to pay off are:

  • Insurance costs if you choose to pay them off monthly.
  • Pest control
  • Trash fees
  • And pet fees if you have one.

The usual one-time costs that come with moving into your first apartment include:

  • Application fee
  • A security deposit or down payment in case of mortgages

Usually, suppose you are renting your first apartment. In that case, you will likely get your security returned when you move to another place. Of course, that might not be relevant if you are mortgaging your apartment. Even while renting, your security deposit refund will depend on how well you maintain your apartment. Again, these costs are not fixed but vary according to your choice of apartment.

The last thing to do while estimating your apartment budget is to consider monthly expenditure on things like:

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Internet access
  • Miscellaneous bills or items

You also need to factor in lifestyle expenses like social activities, eating out, and shopping sprees. Costs for many such activities are at the end of the day location and community-specific.

2. Assess If You Want To Have A Roommate

It will hardly be surprising if you find a particular apartment highly attractive but only too expensive for you to afford. If we are talking about renting such an apartment, there is a solution to your problem- a roommate.

That need not be as disappointing news as it might sound. You were looking forward to moving into your first apartment without having to share your living space with someone else, right? But sometimes compromises are an essential part of life, and having a roommate can not only let you afford that dream apartment but also some enjoyable company. Considering that this is your first apartment, chances are that you are running low on financial resources. Having someone to split the recurrent regular bills is indeed a great advantage.

Keep in mind that getting a roommate does not necessarily compromise your privacy like earlier. Remember, it is your dream apartment with plenty of space for everyone to enjoy. Often the situation is such that you and your roommate hardly stay together in the room simultaneously. And even when you are, you can retreat to your room if you want to be alone.

The last thing to mention about roommates’ role in deciding on your dream apartment is that you are free to be selective. You need to exercise that freedom and choose a suitable roommate. Accordingly, ensure that the lifestyle of both syncs well with each other. To assess the same, you need to ask some particular questions which will help you.

3. Make Sure You Are Thoroughly Acquainted With Your Desired Location

Apart from your budget, another critically important factor in choosing your first apartment is its location. Your perfect dwelling place needs to be located in a similarly suitable area. You actually can’t begin searching for apartments till you get an idea of where you want to live. While deciding on the same, one crucial factor to consider is the required amount of traveling. For example, someone wanting to settle in the Preston Hollow neighborhood in the northern part of Dallas should note regular commute destinations like grocery and stationery stores and your office, which will likely be in Downtown Dallas. Dream homes like Park Fountains at Preston Hollow are not only conveniently located but are safe and full of amenities. We are going to discuss the latter two factors next.

However, the most critical factor in deciding on your apartment location is the neighborhood’s safety and the law-and-order situation of the area. Suppose you are not personally unaware of the same, then visit the place and stay there for a while to get a first-hand experience of the atmosphere. If this is not possible other possible avenues open to you to assess the place’s safety are social media groups and pages. It will give you a reasonably accurate idea of the local community.

4. List Out Desired Amenities

An apartment community’s amenities often vary according to the specific apartment community, and one of the deciding factors in such amenities is the location. Amenities are a critical part of your day-to-day life, and you want to make sure the apartment will meet your needs before you decide to move in. It is imperative to keep in mind the following amenities, though the specifics will vary according to your needs.

  • Washing and drying or shared laundry rooms
  • Water and electricity hookups options
  • Heating and AC systems
  • Parking
  • Gated complex
  • Outdoor hot tub or pool
  • Grill or lounge facilities
  • Dog Park
  • Office station
  • Cafeteria
  • Gyms

Some apartments, especially the more expensive ones, provide even more amenities. It is at the end of the day determined by the budget mostly.

5. Conduct Thorough Research On Local Rentals

There is almost an endless list of results that Google and other search engines throw at your face when you input a particular search query. Real estate is no exception. You are likely to feel confused by the sheer number of results in front of you when you submit a search query related to finding an apartment in the US. However, the following stand out:

  • Apartment List
  • Apartment Finder
  • Apartment Guide

6. Collect All Necessary Information Required For Application

It is another step in our guide which is only relevant for people looking to rent an apartment. In this context, the first thing you need to know is that you must be at least eighteen years old to rent an apartment legally. And there is also a rental application fee associated with your rent application, which ranges from $30 to $50. Ensure you have adequate cash in your hand or money in your bank account.

Landlords are likely to ask for proof of income or employment before taking a step forward in the renting process. The former would be more relevant for self-employed people, and you need to furnish your bank statements accordingly. In all likelihood, landlords too will use the one-third rule of thumb to ensure regular rent payment.

Not only that, but some landlords might also make it necessary for you to have a healthy credit score, which is over 620. Don’t worry if that is not something you can offer as there are other available options. You can ask someone close to you, like a family member or parent, to co-sign the lease agreement, making the rent final. Co-signers function as guarantors who will pay the rent in case you don’t.

Before you pay your first visit to your landlord, it is a good idea to carry identity proof like a passport, driver’s license, etc. The last thing is to collect references and keep them with yourself. It might not always be required, but indeed people tend to prefer people with references. 

7. Make Sure To Tour Your Apartment

You are not only going to spend a significant amount of money in paying for your first apartment, but it is also going to be your home. Accordingly, you need to tour the apartment first and inspect everything to the minutest detail. You usually have two methods to schedule your apartment tour, i.e., calling in or using online communication and scheduling methods. During the apartment tour, make it a point to double-check the following:

  • Check every water faucet for clear water and proper water pressure.
  • Inspect all walls, floors, and ceilings for signs of damage by mold, water, or mildew. Ensure there are no stains or cracks in them.
  • Open windows to check if they are hard to open and afterward close them.
  • Ensure that your apartment has adequate storage space by inspecting all cabinets and closets.
  • Double-check to ensure that there’s a pantry too in the apartment you are touring.
  • Make sure all power outlets are working properly by plugging in a small electrical device.
  • Ensure that you are aware of the electrical devices that come with your apartment and ensure that they meet your quality expectations.
  • Note the amount of noise you perceive indoors and the noises of devices and amenities just outside of your apartment.
  • Inspect all locks that the apartment comes with and ensure they are in proper working order.
  • Lastly, if the rent covers any utilities, make sure you are aware of them.

Other Aspects Of The Rent You Need To Consider

  • Payment Mode Options

Different landlords have different preferences as far as the rent payment modes are concerned. While some will ask you to pay your rent, online others expect to receive checks or money orders at the landlord’s front office by the due date. In the typical case, the first rent payment needs to be made in-person and have different preferences for all subsequent payments. Some complexes even come with a dedicated portal where you can pay your rent.

  • The Working Methodology Of Maintenance Requests

If your apartment has a leak or something breaks, usually the first thing to do is to file a maintenance request. Most complexes that have an accompanying website let you file such maintenance requests online.

  • The Necessity Of Renters Insurance

Renters’ insurances serve to protect tenants and their belongings. Renters insurance is something that almost all apartment complexes require from you. There are usually two ways to ensure you and your belongings, viz. through the apartment complex and choosing an insurance company of your choice. The service provider depends on your preferences and the coverage you need.

  • Do They Allow Pets?

Pets have different levels of importance in the lives of other people. If you are particularly keen on keeping pets, make sure that you know if they are allowed in your apartment. Ensure you know the breeds they allow and how much is keeping your pet with you going to cost you. It might be a one-time fee or a deposit, or even a monthly payment. Amenities like dog parks are relevant to dog owners.

8. Subject Your Lease To Detailed Scrutiny

Before you make your lease legally valid by signing on the lease agreement, make sure you understand your lease details. It is tedious to go through the entire legal agreement, but you need to subject it to proper scrutiny. Remember the contract is legally binding. The agreement will determine your use of the rented apartment. This lease agreement is likely to detail the dos and don’ts of your use of the apartment. It will also detail what will happen when you don’t follow the contract in any manner. Scrutinizing this document will facilitate greater awareness of your rent.

9. Devote Adequate Time To Evaluate The Proposition Before Make A Decision

Suppose there is any pressure on you to apply for a rent application. In that case, it is important not to yield to such pressures and act impulsively. Ideally, you need to devote at least twenty-four hours before proceeding to apply for renting an apartment. This 24-hour gap ensures that your decision is not primarily influenced by impulse and excitement. Instead, consider all factors, including building structure conditions, before making a final decision.

Finally, you have now found your very first apartment, and you are ready to move into the same.

Hopefully, this article would have walked you through what the entire process usually looks like when done correctly. It should have acquainted you with the whole process and made sure that you successfully prevent many potential issues and other causes of stress. Follow these steps, and you are undoubtedly on your way to find your dream apartment. Best of luck with your search!