Moving on your own for the first time can be very intimidating. Suddenly, you find yourself having to deal with a new set of challenges that nobody prepared you for. Managing your budget, doing chores around the house, and having to cook for yourself are just a few of the things that can make you want never to leave your parents’ house again.
But having your place also comes with multiple advantages. You get to be more independent, you learn more about yourself, and you prepare for adult life. All of this, while enjoying the perk of being a college student.
To help make your transition to independent life a bit easier, we have put together the following list of tips for your first apartment search.
Establish a budget
The first thing you need to do when looking for an apartment is to establish your monthly budget. Will your parents be paying for it, or are you planning on getting a job to pay for expenses? No matter where your income comes from, you need to ensure it covers all monthly payments, including rent, food, and bills.
Once you have determined your budget, do keep in mind that, during certain times of the year, your expenses may grow higher. For example, during winter months, your heating bills will increase, while in the summer, you will have to pay a bit more if you are using an air conditioning system.
Keep all of this in mind when searching for an apartment to avoid biting more than you can chew. To cut down on expenses, why not consider moving in with a roommate? This way, you get to split the bills and maybe even have some fun if you choose your roommate right.
Location, location, location
When you are looking for an apartment, the area is one of the essential aspects that can either make or break your deal. It would be best if you considered a place that is close to your college and work, so you don’t end up paying even more for transportation.
You may be thinking that finding a cheaper apartment that is far away from your college may be a good deal, but if you take into consideration commuting, you may end up with the same monthly costs. Plus, money won’t be able to repurchase you the hours spent commuting every day.
Timing is everything
The period of the year in which you decide to rent the apartment can have a severe impact on the prices. Now, you can’t change the time you are starting college, but do expect that during summer and early autumn months, prices may increase considerably. That usually happens in cities with large universities.
One thing you can do is to try and find a relative or a friend that you can live with for a few months, until October or November, and resume your search then. During colder months, fewer people are looking to move so that prices will drop. But do take into consideration the fact that your options will also be considerably fewer. Also, try to watch online for advice. Walton Robinson offers plenty of information to help students accommodate and find apartments for their budget, no matter the time of the year.
Narrow down your search
The first time you start looking for an apartment, you will be overwhelmed by the number of results you can find online. To make your process more comfortable, try to come up with a list of things you want from your new apartment. The list can include price, location, number of rooms, number of bathrooms, access to facilities inside the building, and others.
If you visit every apartment you can find, it will be a waste of your time and energy.
Try to limit your list to no more than five apartments and schedule a visit for each one. Then, check to see which one meets your expectations and ticks as many boxes as possible on the list. You may end up having to give up on one or two things, but do make sure the items you are compromising for are worth it. Also, come up with a list of questions to ask your landlord, which will help you get a better idea of the apartment.
Try to keep your search organized
When you visit several apartments in a short period, things can start to blend a bit. It can get quite tricky to remember which was the one with the lovely balcony, and which was the one with that big bedroom you liked.
Start keeping notes on every apartment you visit, which includes advantages and disadvantages. This way, at the end of your hunt, when you are trying to make a decision, you will have some facts to compare.
Check nearby amenities as well
The apartment itself and the building matter the most, but there are also other things you need to consider. How far is it from the bus station? Do you have a grocery store nearby? All of these things matter tremendously and will make your life much more comfortable.
If you have a pet, a beautiful park nearby, where you can take your little friend for a walk, will also be a plus. Write all of these things down in your checklist and set your priorities straight before you make any visits.
Learn to negotiate
After visiting all the apartments on your list, it’s time to call the landlord and start negotiating. You may be able to get a significant discount if you know how to talk to the owner right.
Tell the owner you also have other options, discuss the price if you consider it may be too high for the market and see what they have to say. It may be better to get a parent with you to help. Chances are, they will be able to talk to the landlord from a stronger position than you.