Renting for the first time is intimidating, whether you’re in college or not. Okay, let’s be honest––adulting in general is intimidating, but it must be done. Nobody ever feels prepared to rent for the first time, so we’re going to give you some tips for students renting their first apartments.
Make a budget and use it
If you haven’t heard “You need a budget” yet, you have now—and you’ll continue to hear it throughout your life. Creating a budget is one of the best ways to find out exactly what you can afford. If you’ve never made a budget before, you probably have no idea where to begin. Luckily, there are plenty of mobile apps such as Mint or YNAB to help you as well as templates on Google Sheets and Excel.
Carefully choose your roommates
You’ll ideally be able to live on your own, but we realize that’s not realistic for most people––we’re broke college kids, after all. Luckily, renting an apartment off-campus compared to the dorms has a major advantage––you can pick your roommates. Maybe some of your best friends want to get out of the dorms, too. Consider moving in with them—assuming they can afford rent, of course.
Take pictures during your walk-through
Once you find a place and you’re close to move-in day, the landlord will probably do a walk-through with you. During the walk-through, you should take pictures of every bit of damage. It doesn’t matter how small the damage seems; once you sign the papers and have the keys, you’re responsible for the interior of the unit. If you decide you don’t want to take pictures, the landlord could hold you liable for the damage. This means you’ll have to either fix the damage yourself before moving out or pay for someone to fix it.
Consider your commute
It doesn’t matter how good of a student you are—chances are you’re going to oversleep and have to rush to class at some point. So, make sure you’re being realistic when you consider your commute. The apartments that are super-close to campus might be really expensive, but if you go for the cheaper apartment that’s a 45-minute walk from campus, that’s not very realistic for class every day.
As we said before, you have more responsibilities now. You’ll have to take on some skills that will last for a lifetime, such as setting a cleaning routine and doing the dishes after dinner every night. In other words, you must be an adult. One of the many expenses that go along with becoming a renter is a security deposit, which essentially gives the landlord a safety net to work with. However, you can usually get that deposit back if you give the unit back in and good shape. If you’re not a great cleaner, you could spend a little bit of money to get a move-out cleaning service and possibly win your deposit back.