The post below was posted at Free Money Finance. Thanks to FMF for letting me guest post.
After finding a job and graduating college, I have experienced another rite of passage: hunting for my first apartment.
Some things I’ve learned from my search:
1. Define my negotiables and non-negotiables. In other words, separate the “needs” from the “wants.” I detest commuting, so first priority was to find a place close to the office. Everything else was secondary. So that meant that the 2 bedroom with hardwood floors & indoor pool 10 miles away was never in the running.
2. Set aside a sum of money for the security deposit, application fee, broker’s fee, etc. I didn’t use a broker, but the application fees ($25-$35 a piece) can really add up. Apply to 3 apartments and it’s almost $100. Having cash equal to 2 month’s rent ensures that I wouldn’t lose out on an apartment because I couldn’t afford the holding deposit.
3. Send certified mail with signature receipt. If I’m sending $2,000 in money order to a landlord I’ve met once, I DON’T want the money to get lost.
4. Find good roommate(s). Living with a roommate allows me to 1. lower my rent, and 2. have someone to talk to when I get home from work. I lucked out that my good friend and I will be renting together – we are both responsible and credit-worthy. Having a roommate that I can depend on to pay her share of the rent and be friends with is a huge plus.
5. Have a basic agreement to prevent hurt feelings and misunderstandings. My roommate and I are both fairly low-key. We’ve agreed to not have cable or housekeeping service. The apartment doesn’t have AC, and it doesn’t get that cold until the middle of winter, so I don’t foresee a lot of arguments over electricity or gas usage (’cause, honestly, who’d want to fight over 2 degrees over the thermostat?). The only “want” we want is high-speed DSL.
Housing around my work area is quite expensive, but so far the process has been fairly painless because of both luck and preparation.