Essential Guide for First-Time Apartment Renters


Embarking on the journey of renting your first apartment is an exciting milestone, yet it can also be daunting. Whether you’re transitioning from a college dorm to an apartment or moving out of your family home, understanding the essentials of apartment hunting is key. This guide is designed to help you navigate this new chapter with confidence, covering the crucial steps you need to follow for a successful rental experience.

Since you are just getting started with having your own place, there’s probably a lot of questions going on in your mind. If you are wondering what you need to do to rent an apartment, then you’re in the right place.It’s because today, we are going to give you a guide about the most important things you need to consider when finding homes for rent. This will help you feel more confident and less stressed about this major milestone in your life. 

Set Your Budget Wisely

The very first thing you need to do if you are thinking about renting an apartment soon is to set your budget. It’s because this will enable you to know what your options are. Also, it’s highly recommended to visit prestigious websites where you can find budget-friendly apartments that fit your needs. The majority of people who rent apartments spend about 25 to 30 percent of their monthly income on rent. But prices may vary depending on where you live. Aside from your payment for rent, there are also many other expenses that you need to take into consideration when you rent a new place. This may include utilities, internet, transportation, insurance, car payments, furniture, groceries, laundry, and more. 

Therefore, before deciding to go out and find potential apartments that you can move into, consider your budget first and set it wisely. 

Choose a Great Location

After finalizing your budget, you will now have a better idea of what city or town you can afford to live in. You can also start researching online for listings. You can also find an apartment with the help of a realtor who has the market knowledge and neighborhood expertise. However, realtors will usually charge you with a brokerage fee, which may not be part of your budget.  

You also need to consider a place that is near your work, and as well as near important places, such as hospitals, stores, schools if you have kids, and other essential places for you. This will help you save money and make your commute short. Also, when choosing a location for an apartment, you also need to see if that neighborhood is safe. For example, if you work in the suburbs, you can consider some apartments, which are usually inexpensive and surrounded by schools, a bustling job market, and less traffic. To better help you in choosing a location, check out our article on the 3 Vital Things To Do Before Renting An Apartment.

Make a List of the Amenities that You Need or Want

Another thing that you might want to do when renting an apartment is to list down all the amenities that you need.. Different apartments offer different amenities, and this will also vary depending on your price range. Making a list of the amenities that you need or want will help you in making sure that the apartment you choose will meet most of your necessary needs. These amenities can be anything from parking space, air conditioning, laundry, or even a pet-friendly environment. But also remember to be realistic when making a list, especially when you are tight in budget. 

When checking out or touring different places, you need to separate your must-haves from nice-to-haves. You also need lots of patience when doing this, and sometimes, you need to understand that you have to take what you can get. It’s important to know how to shop smart when finding a potential apartment to move into. 

Make sure that you also ask questions when visiting available apartments. Ask the property manager about their policy on package and mail receiving for residents. You can also ask when the quiet hours are and more. Try to come up with a list of questions depending on what’s important to you. 

Know What Utilities are Included in the Apartment

There are some apartments that come with included utilities while others do not. If it is important to you that the apartment has included utilities, then you also need to add that to your search as it can affect your budget, too. 

Ask the property manager about the utilities that will be added to each rent payment. For example, there are apartments that bill their tenants directly for water usage, instead of making them open an account with the city for water. If this is the case with your chosen space, then you will be adding on the amount owed to each rent payment instead of sending a separate payment to the local water department. The same goes for other utilities like electricity, internet, and more. 

Filling out rent application

Filling Out the Rental Application

Once you’ve found the perfect apartment that will cater to your needs, it’s time to fill out the rental application. Most rental applications come with a fee. Rental applications are important to help the property manager or landlord determine if someone is a good fit based on income, job history, and credit score. Rental applications are important to help the property manager or landlord determine if someone is a good fit based on income, job history, and credit score. These things speak about your character and dependability, which is used as a predictor by property managers on whether or not you will pay your rent on time. 

If you are just stepping into your first job, or if you are still financially dependent, you will need to have a co-signer for your apartment. When you have a co-signer, in case you are unable to meet the income requirements, they will be responsible for making the payment. This can be one of your parents or a family member, so if this applies to you, make sure that you talk to them before filling out the rental application. After filling out all the details, submit your application, and wait for the approval. 

Understand the Lease and Fees

When your rental application gets approved, it’s normal to feel excited and a bit nervous, too, because it’s your first apartment. However, while you’re unable to contain your feelings, do not feel rushed when it comes to signing the lease. Make sure that you read and understand the contract in its entirety, and when you have any concerns, note them. It is beneficial for you to understand the apartment lease agreement as it will tell you when the rent is due, what the late fees are, how to submit a maintenance request, what their pet policies are, and more. 

After signing the lease, there are also usually a couple fees you need to pay before you can move in. Your landlord or property manager will likely ask for a security deposit and as well as last month’s rent before making your move official. There are also some apartments that will ask for your first month’s rent. This means that you need to be prepared for these fees and anticipate them in your budget when getting ready to rent an apartment. 

Prepare to Move

Moving into a new apartment is an exciting journey, but it also requires careful planning and organization. Here are ten essential steps to ensure a smooth transition into your new home:

Set a Moving Budget:  Determine the costs associated with moving, including moving company fees, packing materials, transportation, and any new furnishings you may need.

Choose a Reliable Moving Company (or Plan a DIY Move): Research and select a reputable moving company, or if you’re planning a DIY move, gather necessary resources like a rental truck and moving equipment.

Sort and Declutter Your Belongings: Go through your belongings and decide what to keep, sell, donate, or discard. This not only makes packing easier but also reduces the load and potential moving costs.

Start Packing Early: Begin packing non-essential items well in advance. Label boxes clearly with their contents and intended room in the new apartment.

Arrange Utilities and Services: Set up utilities (electricity, water, gas, internet) in your new apartment. Schedule service transfers or installations ahead of time to ensure they’re operational when you arrive.

Update Your Address: Notify important institutions (banks, employers, subscription services) of your change of address. Set up mail forwarding with the postal service to catch any stragglers.

Plan for Moving Day Logistics: Confirm the moving date and details with your movers. Plan the route to your new apartment and check for any parking restrictions or elevator reservations needed for the move.

Prepare an Essentials Box: Pack a box or suitcase with essentials you’ll need immediately upon arrival, like toiletries, a change of clothes, medications, chargers, and basic cooking utensils.

Clean and Inspect the New Apartment: If possible, visit the new apartment to clean and inspect it before moving in. Check for any damages or issues that need addressing and document them for your landlord.

Plan the Layout of Your New Apartment: Sketch out a rough floor plan of your new apartment. This will help you decide where to place furniture and belongings, making the unpacking process more efficient.

By following these steps, you can alleviate some of the stress associated with moving and focus on the excitement of starting a new chapter in your new apartment. Remember, organization and preparation are key to a successful move! Also, if you are going to live in an apartment with your kids, you may find our article, What are the Secrets to Successful Apartment Living with Kids? helpful.


Renting your first apartment is a significant step that comes with newfound independence and responsibilities. By carefully considering your budget, location, amenities, utilities, and the rental process, you can make informed decisions and find an apartment that suits your needs and lifestyle. Remember, preparation is key to a successful and stress-free transition to your first apartment.

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