Costly apartment hunting mistakes to avoid

Category: Housing

Modern couch in a vintage living room

Are you currently looking for an apartment? The process of looking for a place to live can be a long one. While it can be exciting for some—for example, someone moving out on their own for the first time or a couple getting their first place together—it’s important not to overlook some of the less exciting aspects of apartment hunting. By overlooking some of these things, you could end up wasting a lot of time and/or money, and not to mention, it can cause a lot of frustration. Some costly apartment hunting mistakes to avoid include the following:

Not checking your credit

If you’re not sure what your credit score looks like or if you have anything negative on your credit report, you might want to take a look at it before applying for a place. Landlords and apartment communities will usually require that tenants have good credit, or that they apply with a cosigner that does have good credit. Remember that most applications require a non-refundable fee. If you only find out that your credit isn’t too good after you’ve applied for an apartment and didn’t get it, you wasted both time and money.

Underestimating your monthly expenses

Far too many renters end up with an apartment that’s beyond what they can realistically afford, especially if they are living on their own for the first time. It can be easy to underestimate your bills and monthly expenses, and overestimate how much you can afford in rent. After you’ve determined what your maximum monthly can be, you don’t necessarily have to pick a place that totally maxes out your limit. Instead, try to stay under quite a bit. This way, if you did underestimate your expenses when you were crunching your numbers and determining your monthly budget, you won’t have to worry about stretching every last dollar in order to make the rent. This is also a good idea to do in case something unexpected happens, like a job loss. And if you do have money leftover each month after paying your rent and other bills, you could simply put it in savings and towards a larger goal, such as purchasing a home.

Only focusing on the rent price

While it’s important to take the rent price into consideration when making your selection, you don’t want to place so much emphasis on it that you overlook other things that matter. For example, you could be getting a great deal on an apartment that’s spacious and has what you’re looking for, but you’d have a very lengthy daily commute. This could be a decision you end up regretting, and you might have been better off paying slightly more to live closer to your job, even if it means sacrificing space or other features. In the end, it’s about what matters most to you in a home, so just be sure to look at the big picture.

Avoiding renters insurance

Some landlords will require that all tenants have renters insurance, whereas others will only recommend it. Avoiding apartment communities and landlords that do mandate renters insurance can be a costly mistake because you should always have renters insurance, regardless of whether it’s required. The cost is minimal, yet the protection is significant, and some policies will also insure your personal belongings in the event of a disaster.

Picking an apartment for the wrong reasons

You’ll want to be sure that you make your final decision based on what’s practical. If you have a big family and need the extra space, you’ll want to opt for the larger place with the outdated kitchen, rather than the smaller apartment with all the brand new renovations. Aesthetics are nice, but don’t let them rule your decision, especially if you are on a tight budget. Or perhaps you’re paying extra for a smaller apartment that’s part of a community with a plethora of amenities for residents that you’ll never take advantage of (even though you have the intentions), when you could find a cheaper place without all the bells and whistles.

Failing to do research

Whether you’re renting from a large community or a private landlord, you’ll want to do your research beforehand and find out if previous tenants had any issues or complaints. A quick search on the web for your landlord or the apartment community’s name can tell you a lot in just a few minutes. If you don’t find anything, that could be a good sign. But if you find an endless list of complaints and warnings, you might want to continue your apartment search. Failing to spend just a few minutes to do some research can cause you a lot of aggravation, and you might end up moving to a place that you eventually regret renting.

Not reading through your lease carefully

It’s important to always look through the terms and conditions of your lease before signing on the dotted line, and taking what a leasing agent tells you with a grain of salt. After all, verbal promises are not binding—it’s what you sign that is binding. This doesn’t mean that a leasing agent will intentionally mislead you in order to get you to rent an apartment—they could just be misinformed about a particular issue. For instance, you might be told that the community allows pets, and because you have a dog, you lease an apartment. However, you find out after you move in that the community only allows cats, and now you have a very difficult decision to make. By carefully reading your lease before signing, you can avoid any of these potential issues.


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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.

Tags: credit, monthly bills, rent, renters insurance, renting

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