Renting an apartment in Northern Colorado right out of college is exciting, but it can also be a stressful experience, particularly if you’ve never rented on your own before. College years provide a great way to transition from living at home to living on your own, but living in dorms or sharing a house near campus can be very different from renting an apartment as a new college grad. Here are some helpful tips and advice to make your first apartment feel like home.
Understand That You Are Responsible Now
Renting a house in college is a good introduction into paying rent each month, but oftentimes these apartments or houses are set up to allow for quick and easy turnover each year. Utilities and amenities might already be set up and the property owner likely pays the individual utility bills from the rent amount charged. The landlord might even handle other simple maintenance tasks for the house. Renting an apartment on your own will be quite different, making it important that you have an understanding of your budget and responsibilities.
Know Your Financial Situation and Set Up a Budget
One of the biggest mistakes college grads make when finding an apartment is forgetting to assess and analyze their financial situation. Renting an apartment like a true grown-up means you are now responsible for paying the rent, setting up utilities, and getting bills paid each month. You will have to budget for multiple monthly expenses and you will have to personally ensure that all bills are paid on time.
Setting up a budget is one of the most effective ways for you to manage your money and keep you on the path for success. You can create your first budget in 30 minutes or less by sitting down and outlining any aspect of your finances such as:
- Total monthly income from all sources
- Existing bills including cell phone bills, car payment, auto insurance, and student loans
- New bills including rent, utilities, TV or Internet service
- Living expenses such as groceries, health or personal hygiene, transportation costs
- Miscellaneous expenses such as entertainment, eating out, traveling, clothes
- Desired amount for savings or emergency fund
Factor in the Total Costs
Having an established budget is the best way to help you determine how much you can afford in terms of rent and bills, but keep in mind that renting your first apartment will come with additional costs. Renting an apartment typically requires you to pay a deposit (which may be equal to one month’s rent), application fees, pet deposits if applicable, and new utility or services set up fees. Moving into the apartment also comes at a price from hiring a moving truck to buying furniture. Planning for any possible cost will help you get settled in without stressing out.
Ask Questions About the Apartment
When you’re looking at potential apartments, be sure that you consider more than how it looks. You want to find a place you’re proud of, but don’t let aesthetics take over necessities and logistics. Important questions to ask might include:
- What utilities are covered in the rent?
- Are there specific companies that must be used for utilities and other services?
- Who pays for and schedules maintenance or repairs?
- Is there parking available?
- When is rent due and how should it be paid?
- Are you allowed to decorate the apartment and what can/can’t you do?
- Are pets allowed?
- What communal amenities are available?
- How do they process roommate situations?
- What is the lease renewal policy?
Read the Rental Agreement
Your lease or rental agreement provides important information needed to live in the home and is designed to protect both the property owner and you as the tenant. Be sure that you carefully read over your rental agreement and have a clear understanding of what is expected from you while you live in the apartment. Remember that once you sign the lease, you will be held responsible for anything listed in its terms, regardless if you took the time to read it or not.
Gather Application Information and References Beforehand
When you find an apartment, you will be required to fill out an application, just as any other interested tenant. The sooner you get your application turned in, the better odds you have of getting the apartment. You can get applications filled out more quickly by gathering your personal and financial information and the contact information for references beforehand.
Be Smart With Your Apartment Search
Renting your first grown-up apartment is exciting, but be careful that you don’t let the excitement take over. Being smart with your apartment search will help you make a good decision that you are happy with long-term. You can do this by:
- Waiting to search when you know you’re financially able and physically available to move
- Looking into the neighborhood to make sure you will feel safe and have the things you need for your lifestyle
- Thinking about your commute to work
- Considering potential roommates
- Comparing the pros and cons of potential apartments
- Working with a property management company that can help you find the perfect place and then provide the service and support you need throughout your lease period
All Property Services offers a wide range of apartments for rent throughout Northern Colorado. Contact us today to help you find a great apartment in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, or Windsor.