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Steps to Renting An Apartment

Updated on July 6, 2017

What Is the Renting Process?

Moving can be a stressful and uncomfortable situation, but it doesn't have to be. If you plan ahead and prepare before signing a lease, it can be an exciting new experience. Renting an apartment can be especially difficult work if you are a first time renter and don't know the ropes. I personally have had my money taken because I didn't understand how the process worked.

Don't find yourself blindsided and down $200 like I was, read these tips to find out what comes with signing the contract on your first apartment.

Important things to consider are:

  • Location
  • Will you have pets?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • Do you have a criminal background?
    Do you have any credit?
  • What is your income?

Application and Deposit Fees

The very first thing the apartment will ask you to do is fill out an application. The application fees depend on the quality of the complex and location. The initial application fee will run you between 25$-65$. There are almost always specials for married couples, a "2 for 1 deal" where you'll only pay one application fee.

Following this, they will ask you for a deposit between 150$ and 250$ (for a basic apartment complex) to hold the spot for you. If your request is denied, they will keep the application fee and return your deposit. GET THE DEPOSIT RETURN IN WRITING, and the name of anyone who gives you quoting information. This is where I made the mistake of talking to two different people, and too young to know any better. I was tricked out of a $200 dollar deposit. Always get it in writing, and if you feel that the person you are handing your money to is untrustworthy you probably don't need to live there.

Make sure you feel that your Apartment Manager is a genuine and trustworthy person. There are some unkind people out there, they will take whatever they can get from you as soon as you sign the contract. Nothing is worse than being under contract with a complex that doesn't care about its tenants.

Ask To See The Unit You May Be Renting

If you don't do a walk-through, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. For example, you may run into a serious pest problem. Look for rodent droppings, roaches and roach droppings, and any sign of bedbugs or fleas. A serious roach infestation can ruin your apartment experience. In the second complex I rented at, the downstairs unit would flood every single time it rained, which was extremely unsafe for my dog. I complained and was moved to a second unit, but low and behold, more problems. There were roaches inside of everything I owned, they got into the dog food, the fridge, and liked to hide in my bed. My oven broke, and the apartment maintenance brought in a used one. They also brought a present with them - 14 mice that were living inside the oven. This apartment was located in Houston, I wouldn't recommend living there in general.

Simple things like roaches and mice can make your living experience absolutely miserable. Double check everything inside the unit.

Budget and Income

Renting an apartment can be quite a bit more expensive than you would originally think. Where you are located, and the features your apartment may include.

Features Apartments Sometimes Include:

  • Gym
  • Pool
  • Laundry Facility
  • Security Guard
  • Utilities
  • Tenant Parking

These features can add an extra $200-$300 to your rent. For a decent, basic one bedroom apartment with a pool and laundry facility, you are looking at around $560/monthly. You almost always have to provide your own electricity, so look for a reputable company.

Along with the rent, you will have other bills such as transportation, groceries, and insurance. Some apartments do require you to have some kind of insurance to protect your home in case of theft or natural disasters. You need to budget this out realistically, and decide whether or not you can afford it. I cannot stress this enough, not budgeting ahead of time can put you into serious debt very quickly.


The location is probably one of the most detrimental things to pay attention to when renting an apartment. You should decide where you would like to be located based on these factors:

  • Public Transportation: If you do not have a vehicle, or your current vehicle breaks down, how will you get around? Is there a bus stop nearby? If so, what is the route number and how many transfers will it take you to get there?
  • Nearby Services: If your car does break down, is there a shop nearby that can fix it? What about Emergency Care hospitals in case of medical emergencies? If you have pets, is there a Veterinarian in the area?
  • Groceries and Gas: Will it take you an hour to get to the grocery store?
  • Crime Rate: If you have children especially, the crime rate should be something you are concerned about


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