Apartment Hunting 101 for College Grads
Finding a first apartment can be scary and difficult. We’re offering a guide to apartment hunting for recent college graduates. Read on to learn more.
You’ve just graduated from college, now what?
If you’ve been living in dorms for the last few years, it’s time to think about what your new living situation will be.
Apartment hunting can be intimidating at first, but these tips will make your search easier and more effective. Let’s get started!
Set a Budget
Renting your first apartment as a college grad is a big financial investment.
When setting your budget, make sure you take into account other living expenses besides your rent. In addition to things like groceries, you’ll also need to factor in your student loan payments (the six-month grace period will end sooner than you think) and rental costs like utilities, parking, and maintenance fees.
While cost matters, it’s also important to remember that the cheapest apartment is not always the best. Sometimes it’s worth it to invest a little more each month for peace of mind and a better standard of living.
Even if the cheapest apartment is in a great neighborhood, you might end up paying more per month for high utilities or other fees than you would in a slightly more expensive location.
Be sure to take all possible expenses into account before you make your decision.
Start Searching at the Right Time
Spaces are available for rent year round, but there are definitely certain times of the year that are better than others for apartment hunting.
For example, there are more rental properties available during the summer months, but they’re also usually more expensive since so many people are looking.
Ideally, it is best to look for apartments between October and December or February and March. Fewer people are looking to move since it’s colder during these months and closer to the holidays, so you might be able to save some money if you’re willing to wait.
While it’s tempting to plan ahead and start looking for a place as early as possible, you don’t want to start too early. However, in a highly competitive Boston apartment market with a low real time vacancy rate, looking early almost always favors the consumer. So in some areas of Boston, it is not uncommon to be searching for an apartment as far as nearly one year in advance. While this gives some people the jitters, to those that know exactly what and where they want to live, preparation and inventory are key considerations.
When you’re looking for apartments, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. All the places start to blend together, and it’s hard to keep track of which apartment offers which amenities or charges the lowest security deposit.
To streamline the process, create a spreadsheet to keep track of the following information:
- Rental rates
- Security deposits
- Contact information
- Whether you’ve seen the place in person
- Relevant facts about the property
Taking the time to do this will help you keep everything straight and save you a lot of headaches down the road.
In their rush to find an apartment, a lot of recent graduates neglect some important details.
When you’re apartment hunting, it’s important to gather things like bank statements or pay stubs (to prove you can pay the rent). Many apartments also require references, so be sure to have the names and phone numbers of a few people who can vouch for you available.
When it comes to preparation, it’s also important to think ahead. Most apartments require a one-year lease. If you don’t think you’ll be in the same place for the next year, you might want to hold off on renting until you know a bit more about what your future holds. Always ask the real estate agent and landlord if they have subletting options that are flexible and easy.
Choose the Right Roommates
If you’re like most recent grads, you probably don’t have enough money to afford an apartment on your own. Splitting the rent with roommates is a great way to bring costs down. However, it’s also important to find the right people to share your space with.
When you’re looking for roommates, think about the responsibilities you’ll share and how you’re going to split expenses. Even if you’re living with your best friends, you should still take the time to come to an agreement and write these things down. If you organize chores and apartment activities together; most people find that having roommates in Boston is better than going it alone.
Consider Neighbors and Landlords
As stated above, price should not be the only thing that influences your decision about whether or not to rent a certain apartment. You’ll also want to take into account the area where it’s located.
If you’re not sure about the safety of the neighborhood, it’s easy to do some research and conduct your own background check to decide if this is the place you want to live. Never ask your real estate agent about the safety of the neighborhood because they have licensing requirements that forbid them from doing so. They can only suggest that you do the research yourself. Today with the power of the internet, knowledge is only a few clicks away.
If possible, try to chat with some of your potential neighbors as well. Not only will you know if they’re the kind of people you want living near you, but you’ll also get a better idea of what the apartment itself is like.
The apartment’s landlord should also factor into your decision. If neighbors say the landlord is hard to reach or never makes repairs, you should probably find a different apartment.
Thoroughly Read your Lease
Many recent grads (and other renters, for that matter) neglect to thoroughly read their lease because they’re so glad the apartment hunting process is over.
However, neglecting this step can land you in a jam later if you weren’t aware of all the loopholes or fine print in your contract. Take time to read the lease and negotiate anything you’re not okay with. Even if the landlord seems trustworthy and you don’t anticipate any problems, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting into.
Don’t Forget Renters Insurance
Renters insurance might not seem necessary, and it’s true that you might not ever need to use it. However, just like with car insurance, you’ll be glad you have it if you ever find yourself in a tough situation.
Renters insurance will actually save you money in the event of a break in or a fire. Most policies will cover your belongings up to a certain amount, and they’ll also pay for repairs.
Just like with your lease agreement, make sure you read the fine print before purchasing renters insurance so you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.
Need More Help Apartment Hunting?
If you still need help apartment hunting, contact a real estate agent through Boston Pads today! We’ll help you find the perfect place that meets all your budget and lifestyle needs.