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A Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Apartment Hunters

Young Woman Apartment Hunting on Her PhoneIf you’re thinking about renting your first Homestead apartment, you may be equally excited and nervous. It makes sense to feel this way: at the end of the day, there are several things to figure out, from finding the right place to makes perfect sense you can afford it and everything in between. Make apartment hunting easier by preparing some important things ahead of time. By following these easy steps now, you may be able to find and rent your first apartment like a pro in no time.

Crunch the Numbers

Prior you start your apartment search, you need to find out how much you can afford. To do this, you’ll need to create a monthly budget that shows all of your income and expenses. Then you can calculate how much rent you can afford. A good guideline is to keep your apartment rent at about 30% of your income after taxes. Make an estimation about the exact dollar amount. Now take a look at your budget. Do you have enough money left over after your other expenses to cover that amount? If not, you may need to take some extra steps before you’re ready to start apartment hunting.

Look Beyond the Rent

Figuring out how much monthly rent you can afford is an excellent first step, but there are other costs involved that you need to be ready for. In most instances, you will need to pay a security deposit upfront along with the first month’s rent. The amount of this security deposit will vary, but it is frequently the same amount as the rental payment.

There may even be other deposits and fees, including credit check fees, utility deposits, and extra costs. Plus, you’ll need to find out if utilities are included in the rent or if you will be responsible for paying for your own. Internet, cable, electricity, gas, water, and trash disposal are all common utilities that you’ll need to have enough money to get set up if they aren’t included in the rent. To make it easier, you could think of it this way: you’ll want to have at least 2 – 3 months of rental payments saved up to guarantee that you have what you need to get into your first apartment.

Application Basics

As soon as you’ve got your finances figured out, it’s time to start searching and applying for your first apartment. It’s an excellent idea to have your application materials prepared before you begin so that when you find a place you like, you’re ready to get that application done quickly. To rent an apartment, you’ll need a list of documents and information.

While this list may vary from place to place, it’s a good idea to have the following ready:

  • Your last two pay stubs or a bank statement
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license or state ID
  • Credit report
  • Contact information for at least two references

Read the Lease

While you’re going through the rental process, carefully read through all of your lease documents – and that includes the fine print. A lease is a binding legal contract, which means that once you sign it, you will be on the hook for everything that’s in it. Have a clear understanding of your responsibilities, what your landlord will provide, how things like maintenance and repairs will work, and so on. Likewise, check that the rental payment amount, security deposit amount, and other numbers are correct.

Lastly, check for any unusual or unexpected rules or clauses to guarantee that you are comfortable following the rules stated in the lease. If you have clarifications about anything you find in your lease, make sure to ask someone you trust. In fact, the more you know about the apartment, the neighborhood, and your landlord before you rent from them, the better off you will be.


Are you looking for your first rental home in Homestead? Contact us online today or call us at 305-930-7867.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.