Congratulations! Your very first apartment! Are you excited, nervous, or even anxious?

That’s normal; there are tons of things to check and prepare for when renting a property.

We can help you overcome your fears and ensure everything is in order. This guide will walk you through every step of finding your first apartment and renting it without worries.

  1. Begin with Setting a Budget

Let’s begin with setting a reasonable and accurate budget for what apartment you can afford. Financial issues can quickly become obstacles to renting, so you need to ensure everything is in order before searching so you know what to look for.

  1. Thoroughly Research Listings and Beware of Scams 

Did you know that nearly 5.2 million people lost money due to rental scams, while 43.1% of renters reported a listing they suspected as fraudulent?

Check for signs that a listing is a fake before researching the rental property market.

  1. Book an Apartment Tour

Schedule a few tours a day to save time and find an apartment that fits your needs.

Some landlords offer virtual tours so future tenants can digitally explore apartments before seeing them in-person.

But if you’re a first-time renter, it’s better to start with an in-person tour. Often a virtual one may not be enough to get a feel for the atmosphere. It’s also short on helpful information such as buildings next door, quality of the area, neighbors, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with where the apartment is situated, a virtual tour won’t help.

  1. Ask Questions

Here’s a rundown of questions first-time apartment renters should ask:

  • What is the price, and is it negotiable?
  • Are utilities included in the offer?
  • Can I pay rent online?
  • How long is the lease?
  • How is apartment maintenance handled?
  • Is the neighborhood crime-free?
  • Are the neighbors noisy?
  • Do you allow pets?

As for the last question, most landlords typically emphasize it in their listing, when pets are prohibited, but not always. Others may eagerly indicate that they are pet-friendly and welcome tenants with pets.

  1. Understand the Legal Aspects and Tenant Agreements 

Besides searching and asking, you should also know your fundamental tenant’s rights to build a healthy tenant-landlord relationship.

Boost your general law savviness, scroll through the current eviction laws, and learn about apartment leases. A landlord may try persuading you that you don’t need a written agreement, just a verbal one – which is one of the red flags to watch out for.

  1. Prepare Your Rental Documents

Copy and save this list of required documents you’ll need to rent your first apartment:

  • Income documentation (income letter from employer, tax returns, bank statements, etc.)
  • Rental application
  • Identification documents (ID card, driver’s license, etc.)

Bonus Tip: Create Your First Apartment Moving In Checklist

Renting a property and preparing to move may turn into a messy nightmare. Especially if it’s your first time, make a checklist and organize your steps in order of importance to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Don’t forget about healthcare and other items on your list before you start your move, like finding a doctor or getting referrals from your previous physicians.

FAQ for First-Time Apartment Renters

When is the best time to rent an apartment?

The best months are between October and February. The most advantageous bargains and the lowest rates are in January and February.

Why? Simple: the holiday season is over, landlords are less busy, and people are less interested in relocating due to inclement weather. And there are no swarms of students looking for housing (they usually do that before the semester starts).

But it’s better to start researching the market and considering some variants one or two months before you plan to move.

How to decide on the proper apartment?

Aside from the tips above, pay greater attention to the location, commute, neighborhood safety, and the following community amenities when renting your first apartment:

  • Transportation options
  • Parks and green spaces
  • Natural (unpaved) or paved trails for walking, hiking, etc.
  • Playgrounds
  • Parking lots
  • Sports facilities (gyms, pools, fitness centers, etc.)

Where can I read more about renting for beginners?

Ready to Rent?

Now you’re well-equipped with tips on first-time apartment renting and ready to move!