While buying a home is a dream for many, sometimes renting a home just makes more sense. Renting offers more flexibility to move for a career or family and is often easier on the wallet as well. If you’re currently searching for a new rental (or about to start soon) use these seven tips to help find the perfect home for you.
1. Determine Your Dream Home
The best place to start your search for a rental home is with a wish list. Write out the amenities that a home or apartment must have, and then create a second list with amenities that you would like to have as well. Go through it multiple times with a critical eye until you have your dream home drawn out. Now, it’s time to find it.
2. Consider Transport
Next up is determining your commute and transport options. Do you like to walk or bike to work? How far are you willing to drive? If you have children, what schools and activities will they be attending and how will they get there? If you’re in a city, which modes of public transport do you need nearby? Although the home itself is quite important, you won’t spend all of your time there so understanding its relationship to other places you frequent is important as well.
3. Choose Your Favorite Neighborhoods
Now that you know what your dream rental looks like and the places you need to be nearby, it’s time to scout out the neighborhoods you like.
Visit a few to see what they’re like in the morning and the night, how loud they are, and the pros and cons of each. During this time, it’s best to narrow your search down to only two or three neighborhoods for a more focused house hunt.
4. Break Down Your Budget
One of the most important steps in the rental search is determining your budget. Typically, it’s recommended to spend about ¼ or ⅓ of your monthly income on rent.
Decide what you can live with and what you can’t live without. Little things like living on the ground floor of a building or foregoing the complex with a pool can translate to big savings down the road. In this stage, be sure to check your credit score (because the landlord likely will as well) and set a monthly budget for utilities and other costs like parking fees.
5. Start Looking Early
The best way to snag the perfect rental home is with patience. If you’re on a time crunch, you’re much more likely to end up settling on a rental that doesn’t fit your needs or your budget (or both). Instead, begin your search months in advance and visit plenty of homes. The more flexible you are with your moving dates, the more likely you’ll be to find the rental home of your dreams.
6. Vet Your Landlord
A terrible landlord can turn your dream home into a nightmare.
Before you take the plunge and sign a contract, talk to your landlord and trust your gut feeling. Ask plenty of questions about what’s allowed (and what’s not) and read the contract closely. Speak with neighbors about their experience in the building and read reviews online as well.
An overbearing or super strict landlord can cause regular headaches down the road, so take this step seriously to be sure you will be a good fit for the building.
7. Understand the Application Process
If you’ve never rented a home before, the application process can be a bit daunting. This is where the money, contracts, and negotiations come into play. Negotiate the length of your lease, house rules, payments, maintenance expectations and more with your landlord and make sure to get everything in writing.
During this time, you’ll likely be asked to authorize a background check and, if all goes well, pay a deposit. Typically, this will be the cost of a month’s rent and will be returned when you move out if the house isn’t damaged. It’s important to be prepared financially because you’ll also pay the first month’s rent on top of this deposit.
If your credit score is low your landlord may also require someone to co-sign the lease, in which case that person will be liable to pay your rent if you cannot.
Use These 7 Tips to Find Your Dream Rental
Finding the perfect rental home for your needs is possible if you follow this advice. First, decide what kind of house or apartment you want, what transport options need to be nearby, and which neighborhoods to scout out.
Then, determine your budget and start looking early to ensure you have plenty of options. Finally, meet your landlord and ask questions to ensure you’ll be a good fit for the building and then complete the application process.
Are you ready to make your move? Follow these steps and you’ll be moving into your dream rental home in no time!