The ultimate cheat sheet for apartment renters
BlogFreshest property listings, latest news, and top real estate tips.

The ultimate cheat sheet for apartment renters

by Jillian CariolaPublished: September 18, 2015Updated: October 5, 2015

Looking forward to moving into a new apartment? Keep things easy-peasy with our guide.

Whether you’re a first-time renter or a veteran in transient living, the processes involved in searching for and choosing an apartment is not to be taken lightly. From inspecting a property to moving in, check out our complete guide to apartment renting.

Search for the perfect unit. Start your search for a new place by figuring out your budget so you know what rate you can comfortably pay every month. As a rule of thumb, don’t allocate more than 30% of your monthly income on rent; otherwise you’ll find it difficult to take care of your other expenses. When looking at units, don’t be afraid to ask the landlord questions. Remember to talk to other tenants about their experience living in the building too; this is how you can get a good idea of what life in the rental will be like. And be sure to read the lease agreement carefully before signing it. Leases normally range from 6 months to two years. If you sign hastily and it turns out there’s a clause there that you don’t agree with, there’s a little chance you can have it changed. Further, should you decide to pre-terminate the lease agreement, there’s a high chance your deposit will be forfeited.


Learn how to pack your things for the move. If this is your first time living on your own and paying your own bills, chances are you’ll be choosing a smaller, more affordable unit to start with. When packing your things, don’t attempt to bring more than what you can fit into the space you have. Put all toiletries in one box, all bedroom items in another box, and so on, and remember to label them. If there are valuables in the box, mark them as “Fragile.”


Clean the unit. No one wants to move into a dirty rental, especially one that’s a little aged. Even though the landlord may have already cleaned the place, it won’t hurt for you to give it another go. This will also give you a chance to spot any damage you may have missed the first time so you can report it to the landlord immediately. Bring a broom, mop, scrub brush, soap, disinfectant, rubber gloves, air freshener, and anything else you can use to make the unit more inviting by the time you move in.


Organize moving day. On the day of the move, you might be feeling excited or nervous. Either way, you might end up forgetting things, which will be bad news if you’re eliciting help from professional movers. You need to give them proper direction so everything goes smoothly, so it would be helpful to keep a list of things you need to bring. Keep an eye on everything that goes into the moving van to make sure everything’s accounted for. Even if you’re forming a convoy on the drive to your new place, give the movers a detailed map of where to go so they don’t get lost if traffic comes between you.


Unpack properly. You probably won’t have a lot of stuff to start with, but it still pays to know how to unpack. Start with the bathroom and bedroom, since you’ll most likely be using those right away. If you do everything right (and granted you do have a small unit and only a few things to unbox), you’ll be done and settled by the end of the day.


Change the locks. If the apartment is old, you don’t really know who has spare keys to the locks, which can be a major safety issue. If the landlord doesn’t change the locks in between tenants, ask them if they’ll do so for you. If not, ask if you can do it yourself. You might be spending your own money, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Give the landlord the old locks for safekeeping so you can put them back when you leave and take your new lock with you when your lease is up.


Keep renovations to a minimum. Keep in mind your landlord’s rules about things like painting walls and hanging up photos so you won’t be accused of violating your lease’s terms. Also, remember that you have neighbors that might be disturbed at the sound of drilling. Choose hours of the day when most of them have left for work, or at least awake.


Meet the neighbors. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it would be nice to know who you’ll be living next to. Spend a few minutes talking to them when you see them outside, and smile when you pass by each other. This will help build your rapport with them, and will almost guarantee you can ask them for small favors (like collecting your mail or watching your place when you’re not around) and also keep an issue from getting nasty should one arise in the future.


Find your very first apartment at now! Our database also has houses, condos, rooms, and other rentals for you to choose from.

comments powered by Disqus


Get the freshest property listings, latest news, and top real estate tips delivered straight to your inbox!