Tips for Renting Your First Apartment

March 30, 2016Katie

The time has come. You’ve moved away from home, you’ve graduated from college and are finally out of the dorms, or another life event has made it possible for you to finally rent your own apartment. Congratulations! If you’re ready to rent your first apartment, there are a host of things you need to take into consideration before signing your name across that lease. Make sure you follow these guideline to keep yourself safe and happy while you secure the apartment of your dreams.


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Budgeting Needs

The most important step is the first one—figuring out your budget. It might serve as a slap in the face, but remember, it’s a welcome slap because the last thing you want is to wind up in an apartment you won’t be able to afford in the long run. Most landlords won’t rent to anyone who doesn’t make at least three times the required rent, so keep that in mind as you begin your search. You may find that you can’t get everything you originally wanted for the money you’re willing or able to spend, so compromise is probably in your immediate future. Try and remember that you can change portions of the home to fit your need with décor, so keep an open mind.

How to Find an Apartment

So you’ve decided on a budget, picked the location, and know what kind of apartment you’re looking for. Where can you find it? Utilize a host of apartment listing sites to get a comprehensive look at what’s available in your preferred area. You may find luck like many others have through listing sites like Craigslist, but there are also a lot of scams that you’ll have to be able to detect. Improve your chances of securing the right apartment by using websites like,, and They have a variety of filters you can use to narrow down the listing of your choice, including cost, number of bedrooms, and various amenities.

How to Handle the Competition

As a prospective tenant, you’ll be competing with a lot of other people to get yourself in the rental of your dreams. It’s definitely a competitive rental market out there with many choosing to rent instead of buy, so it’s essential that you’re always prepared with a deposit check, application fee, and any other documentation the landlord has asked for. Other commonly requested items include old pay stubs, tax returns, reference letters from old landlords, or a letter of employment outlining how long you’ve been with your current company and your salary information to prove you can afford the apartment. Securing an apartment is definitely a case of timing, because if you really want a place, you can bet there are others out there that really want it too.

Be Careful With Your Sensitive Information

As you look at different apartments, you may find yourself submitting multiple applications, and landlords will require access to sensitive information like your social security number. Identity theft is a real concern, and handing out your information to strangers can make you vulnerable to a host of problems. If possible, ask your prospective landlord to use a certified screening service like Transunion Smartmove. It will give them all the information they need, like your credit score and criminal and eviction histories, and keep your information safe at the same time.


  • Jack Palmer

    April 6, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I agree with you on the most important step in the process of finding an apartment is the budget. I think it's so important to be comfortable with how much you spend each month on rent. My sister-in-law is getting married soon and they've been looking for an apartment. It just reminds me of when my wife and I were looking for our first place. Thanks for the info!
  • Judy Wilson

    April 12, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Your tips for finding an apartment will come in handy now that I'm in the market for renting one. The apartment that I want to rent seems to have a lot of other offers, so I should keep in mind to be prepared with a deposit check, application fee, and other documents that landlords would ask for. I have most of those items on hand, so I'll make sure to ask about documents that different landlords would need for apartments that I want to rent.
  • Sarah Anderson

    May 31, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Figuring out your budget for an apartment is indeed the most important step to renting one. Going for something cheaper than your budget will allow can be good, but going over will always be terrible. Getting that cheaper one is good because it can save you money, just do your research on if it's worth it or not.
  • Sarah Smith

    June 13, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I'm moving out of my parent's house and need to find an apartment. Thanks for the advice about setting a budget and then using that to find a location. Hopefully, I can get a nice apartment without too much competition.
  • Duncan Lance

    June 21, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    I agree, the first thing you need to do before renting an apartment is figure out your budget. After all, you have to remember that rent might not cover everything in the apartment. For example, if you need to pay for gas and electricity separately, you'll want to work that into your budget.

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