6 Key Considerations When Finding a Rental Apartment
Looking for your first rental apartment? As fun as apartment shopping can be, the journey to finding the perfect place can be arduous. That is why I’ve broken the process down to hopefully make finding the right rental home a whole lot less stressful and your path a whole lot less bumpy.
Consideration #1: Is it within my budget?
Your budget should always be your number one concern. Don’t spend more than 25% to 35% of your disposable income on rent because unexpected costs do crop up.
On top of your rent, you’ll need to pay for one-off costs like the bond; as well as on-going costs like insurance, utilities and groceries. So start saving for emergencies! That way when things do go wrong – burst water pipes, damaged windows etc. – you will be able to afford the repairs.
But what if I really wanted to rent a luxurious apartment complete with its own hot tubs? Would I need to give up on that?
Yes and no. You should never go over your budget on rent. But at the same time, you can always share the cost with a roommate.
An apartment may be small, but they often come with two or three bedrooms which will give you sufficient personal space.
Consideration #2: Have I visited the apartment yet?
Before you start fantasizing about the fourteen butlers, the private cinema and the 360° panoramic view that your apartment comes with, you need to check out the place first!
Flowery descriptions are highly deceptive, and don’t rely too heavily on the photographs either.
A friend of mine is a complete foodie. She was drawn towards this one apartment because of some impressive pictures that showcased a stylish kitchen. Yet when she visited, she realized that the photographs were taken at least two years ago.
Why? The kitchen she saw had lost its shine, and the stoves were covered in a layer of stubborn grime!
Besides, you never know how much you truly love or hate a place until you see it for yourself.
I’d advise you to arrange for multiple viewings in a day. Not only is this a time saver, each apartment stays fresh in your mind making the elimination process easier.
But don’t wear yourself out by cramming too many viewings into a day!
A good rule of thumb is to leave at least 45 minutes to browse each apartment, as well as allotting ample time for travelling between places.
Consideration #3: Do I have enough space?
Apartments are designed to be space-efficient.
At every apartment viewing, try and plan how you would use the space. Do you actually need an extra room to fit in a study, or can you cram a desk into your bedroom and make do with that? It’s all a matter of give and take, and knowing yourself well enough to decide what you really need.
Are you and your dog inseparable companions? Not only are pets banned in most buildings, there’s probably not enough space in most rented apartments for your dog to run around. If that’s the case, choose a larger apartment or search for a rental house instead.
Do you own a car? Check if the apartment comes with its own parking space or whether you need to secure a spot in a nearby parking lot.
Consideration #4: Am I happy with the facilities?
When looking for an apartment, you should have a checklist of basic criteria that your rented home will need to satisfy. On most seasoned renter’s list, this would include the facilities available in the potential home and in the local area. To help kick-start your list, ask yourself these questions.
In the home:
- Is the apartment you’re after furnished, partly furnished or not at all?
- How much are you willing to pay for new couches, washing machine, fridge etc.?
- Are you willing to invest in new furniture even though you may only be living in here for only a year?
- Can you be bothered to go furniture shopping?
In the neighbourhood:
- What types of facilities are located nearby?
- Do you prefer to live closer to the supermarkets so you won’t have to walk too far with your groceries?
- Or are you someone who wishes to live close to food outlets so you can easily get takeaway for those nights when you’re too tired to cook?
- Do you prefer tranquillity or the hustle and bustle of city life? Aside from the shops, cafes and restaurant options, you should always ask yourself what type of neighbourhood you want.
- Is safety high on your priorities list? Hence would you prefer an area with less non-local trespassers?
The list of questions is endless. So you need to decide what you want from your home.
Consideration #5: Is this a good deal?
Don’t rent the very first apartment you find.
Like with any other purchase, always look around to make sure you get the best deal.
There are various sources you can use for apartment hunting. Don’t just look on one website! Be sure to browse around, and stay alert for flyers flapping around your local area advertising apartments that are available for rent.
Study the floor plans of an apartment that you’re considering, and the facilities available in the building complex.
Does it suit your needs?
What you consider to be a good deal is very subjective. So even though you should be open to input from family and friends, ultimately, the decision should be yours.
You are the one who will be living there.
Consideration #6: What does the lease say?
Pay close attention when reading the lease. First off, check the length of your rental period.
Double check the start and end dates because it’s important that the dates suit you. Never rely on subletting because most landlords frown upon this!
If something in the lease seems unreasonable, talk to landlord. You’ll be able to negotiate small changes in most cases. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, ask someone to clarify it for you. It’s always smart to find someone who knows the lingo to help you out!
Another crucial point is to check who is responsible for paying what. Also check what the guest policy is, and whether or not you can paint or drill holes into the apartment walls. These may seem like trivial details, but some landlords like to do “surprise” visits to check up on you.
Finally, check the insurance policy. That way you’ll know if you need to buy your own insurance to protect your own interests.