The national median for renting a 2-bedroom apartment is $1,190. That’s $14,280 in a year. That being said, the range is huge and depending on where you live, you could be paying much more than that.

Over 10% of households spend more than 50% of their income on rent. So even though you may not be ready to buy a house, you should still treat your apartment search as if you are. Your rental could end up being your home for years, and at the very least, a year. 

That’s why it’s essential that first-time renters know how to find a good apartment.

But what should you look for? How do you know if it’s the right one and if you find that one, how can you make sure you land it?

Keep reading to find out all about renting your first apartment.

Decide Where You Want to Live

If you live in a city, narrow down the neighborhoods in which you’d be happy to live. To make it easy, print out a map and fill in those areas. Create borders where you know you wouldn’t want to make exceptions for.

That way, each time you find a place and look at the address, you can determine if it fits in with your plan from the start.

If you’re new to the city, do your research and ask the opinions of anyone you feel inclined to ask.

Decide If You Want a Roommate

Opting for a roommate or more than one roommate could save you a lot of money and get you a bigger space. That being said, it also takes away from your privacy.

Figure out how much you can afford to pay each month and determine whether or not you’ll be able to afford those areas you’ve mapped out. If it’s a hard no, it might be in your best interest to find a roommate.

If you can afford it on your own, and you are excited about your first very own place, make a choice to do it on your own.

Know Your Credit

Having good credit is a big deal when it comes to renting. That being said, many landlords and brokers will work with you if you are honest about why you have bad credit or don’t have any at all.

The best thing to do is be honest up front if that is the case. Offer a bigger deposit or ask someone to cosign beforehand, should it end up being a requirement.

Be Ready with Your Paperwork

When you find a space that you love and can picture yourself calling home, chances are you’re not the only one. Once you’re ready to say yes to a place, you’ll need to act fast. Be ready with cash or checks to pay for an initial credit check and application.

Have pay stubs ready and references, and anything else you think might help you land your first apartment.

Be Thorough from the Get-Go

Apartment hunting can be exhausting, especially if you’re determined to find as close to what you dream of as possible.

That being said, don’t settle for less. Write down a list of amenities or features you can absolutely NOT live without, and another list of preferred amenities. 

If you decide to work with a broker, who is essentially a realtor for renting, make sure you divulge all of your requirements up front. That way, you won’t waste any of their time or yours in the search process.

Knowing how to choose an apartment takes practice. No matter what place becomes your first place, chances are things will come up that you’ll remember to look for next time. That being said, make sure that when you do make that final call, the pros heavily outweigh the cons.

Don’t Forget About the Details

When you first decide how much you can afford, make sure you have an absolute maximum with an included budget so that you can’t convince yourself otherwise later on.

When you’re budgeting, make sure you take into account what bills you’ll be paying. Electric, internet, and heat can cost you a pretty penny on top of whatever rent you owe.

Be wary of anyone who asks you for money up front, aside from the typical credit check or application fee.

Look over your lease and make sure you know when you should get your deposit back after you move out. You also want to ask what happens should you need to get out of your lease. Things happen in life, and sometimes there’s a reason why someone needs to break their lease early. Ask what the penalties would be in that situation.

Find out about parking, pest control, lawn maintenance, and anything else you can think of that might be covered. 

And last but not least, make sure you have clear instructions of who you should call should a pipe burst or something else happens that requires immediate attention.

If you want to learn more, check out these 10 questions to ask yourself BEFORE you sign that lease.

Knowing How to Find a Good Apartment Will Put You Ahead

Even though most leases are year-long leases if you find a place you love, you could end up staying for years to come. And isn’t that the dream? No one wants to move time and time again, especially in a city.

That’s why knowing how to find a good apartment is essential in finding that perfect first place.

All you need to do to get started is to make a list of your needs, figure out your budget, and map out all the areas in which you’d be happy to live. Once you do those 3 things, you’ll be on your way to finding the apartment of your dreams!