A Newbie’s List of Tips and Tricks for Renting Your First Home

Renting your first home is exciting but there are a lot of things that go into it. Before striking it out on your own, this list of tips and tricks will help prepare you for your first rental.

Think of the costs, both long term and upfront

Renting your first house is going to be expensive – not as expensive as buying a house, but it’ll be costly. Before you even begin looking at properties, you’ll want to know how much you can spend and how much you’ll need to have saved. 

Costs to think about include: 

  • Application fee
  • Security deposit
  • First month’s rent
  • Deposit to turn on utilities
  • Cost to move your belongings from point A to point B
  • etc.

Be prepared for paperwork

Like any other serious agreement, you’re going to have to fill out a lot of paperwork and provide documents to the landlord. You’ll need to have at least two or three pay stubs, bank statements, references (some landlords won’t require this though), and copies of your identification.  

Choose the best location within your budget

Naturtally, when you go over your finances, you’ll want to look at rentals within your budget. Thankfully now that remote work seems to be a mainstain for many employees, you may be able to consider moving to a neighborhood further from work in an effort to find an affordable place that has the amenities that are important to you.

Purge or pack?

When it comes time to pack your things, use this as an opportunity to whittle through what you have and decide what to get rid of and what to take. You probably accumulated a lot of things over the years and there’s no time like moving to a new abode to get a true fresh start. As you go through your things, decide what you can donate, what can be sold, what needs to be thrown away and what you’ll take with you. Just make sure that as you’re going through stuff, you do so with an objective eye! Be realistic about what you actually need and will use, rather than get hooked on something because you think you may need it in the future. 

Take inventory of what you need and have

Oftentimes when you’re moving into your first place, you’re not going to have everything you’ll need. While you’re packing, take note of what you have and what you may need in the new place. Along the way, if family and friends offer to give you stuff, mark those items off of your list. In the days leading to the big move, you can then go out and buy stuff that’s missing. 

Common items new renters won’t have may include:

  • Dishes, glassware, cookware, and utensils
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Cleaning supplies, garbage bags and bins
  • Paper goods (paper plates, plasticware, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper)
  • Furniture
  • Curtains

Understand the terms of your lease

When you finally find that perfect first place and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand the terms of your lease! You don’t want to blindly sign a year-long lease and then get penalized for breaking a rule (having pets when you’re not allowed to is a common rule new tenants break). You’ll want to understand what bills you’re responsible for, what happens if you pay rent late (or there’s a returned check), are you required to have renters insurance, and what happens if you have to terminate the lease early. There are a lot of things that go into being a renter and since this is your first time going out on your own, it’s important that you understand what you’re getting into! If need be, you could consult a realtor to help you find a rental and understand the lease.