So you’re ready to move out of home and start renting your first apartment – congrats!! It is both terrifying and exciting, and every emotion in between, but totally worth it! It is a huge milestone – it’s a new journey to adulthood. I have recently just signed my first lease with Cree, and we move in September 1! So I wanted to let you have a little insight into what to look for when it comes to apartment hunting and shopping… Let’s do this!
Know What You Want
This is important before you even start looking for a place to live. Do you want 1 bedroom? 2 bedrooms? 1 bathroom? parking space? laundry on-site? when do I want to move in? and most important, what is you’re monthly budget for rent + utilities (aka the dreaded added-on bills)? All these things are the first step in determining where you’ll be most happy living. This way you can narrow down the results when searching online, because it can get very overwhelming.
Read & Understand The Lease and What’s Included
You will find rentals available that don’t include heat, gas, and/or electricity (hydro) – and be careful of this when searching with your budget. Make sure you read the fine print. Contact the landlord or property manager to get clarification on what is included in the monthly rent. (In my case, everything is included – including cable and internet, which means no “extra” bills will be coming out! Yipeee).
Once you have found your perfect place, and you have the lease sitting in front of you, make sure the landlord is there with you explaining every point in detail. This is essentially your contract, and if you don’t understand something clearly, it may backfire months down the road. Also another question to ask is if it’s a year lease, or a month-to-month payment.
Fees. & Bills.
Yes you may have the money sitting in your bank account ready to be used for your first and last payments. But I’m warning you, if you have to set up anything through a company (meaning you have to pay gas separately), they will want security deposits and set-up fee’s. Even doing your groceries for the first time, you need to buy cleaning products, salt and pepper, aluminium foil, etc etc – things that are an essential to every-day living. Also, a tip for months before you even plan to move house – get a credit card and build up your credit score! When I got mine, I found using it was very daunting, but use your new credit card for everyday purchases, and pay if off straight away. This way you can build up your credit score and have a somewhat good credit history – even if it isn’t much.
Now we actually have to put all of this into consideration and dive straight in.
1. Search through different engines to find apartments/rentals in the area you are looking to live. You will find ones that are owned by the landlords and ones through a property management team. Landlords are the actually people that own the property and will typically rent out a bedroom or basement apartment. The company acts as a middle man between you and the landlord. We went with a property manager, but we were looking at either one. Again, depends on what you are looking for in terms of where you want to be living.
2. Contact the landlord or agency and set up a viewing time. I personally like to set these up via email, just so there is hard evidence and written proof rather than verbal agreements.
On the day of viewing, ask questions like:
– How old are the current fixtures & appliances?
– Is parking included?
– Does anybody in the building smoke or have pets? (if it’s bothersome to you)
The landlord/agency will ask you questions like:
– Where do you work? Income? Do you go to university/college?
– Who will be living here?
– Any pets?
3. If you like the rental space, they will give you an application to fill out. On this you will find – the terms of lease, and you will have to fill things out such as – tenants full names, birthdays, previous places you have lived, how long you lived there, previous landlords name and phone number, employment history, your income, name of your supervisor and phone number, any debts you may have, etc. You will have to make sure all this information is correct and then sign and date it.
4. The agency will more than likely perform a credit history check (this is where having a paid off credit card comes in handy), verify your references, and if everything looks good their end, you will get approved. This now means you have to pay first and last month’s rent to secure the apartment. Keep all paperwork and transfers for your records!
5. Once you have an agreed move in date – you can now start getting things organised. Do you need to book an elevator in your apartment building? Do you need to rent a uHaul for the day? Do you need friends to help you move?
Also FYI – Be sure to change your address on your license, health cards, tax office, your job, school, bank, doctor, insurance company, etc.
Whether you’re moving the first time, or the tenth time, it will always, always be stressful. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed from the time you start looking for a place to the time you sit on your sofa with everything unpacked around you. So I hope with my experiences and little tips gave you some insight on the renting process. Good luck and congratulations again!! P.S. Don’t forget to throw that house warming partaaay in a couple of weeks 😉