Tips For Renting Your First Apartment
First and foremost, Renter's insurance. You may never need it, but you'll be glad you have it if anything does ever happen. No matter how careful you are, you are surrounded by other people who's mistakes might set the apartment up in a blaze or flood everyone out. It's a lot cheaper than you think. The prices depend on where you live of course, but just to give an idea, it costs something like $10 - $15/month for $20,000 insurance. It's definitely something to look into. Be sure to keep a list of the big purchases you've made, and keep receipts, records or statements for those purchases online in a special folder in your e mail.
When you first move in, be sure to take pictures of everything. Of every wall, carpets and floors, ceilings, inside of all of your closets, every window, tub, toilet and every sink, door frames and doors, anything out of the ordinary that you may have like a bar or a fire place. Take pictures of everything! Take close up pictures especially of already damaged things and stains on carpets or mold.
Once you've moved in, take pictures of each room with all of your stuff in them. Upload them all to some picture hosting site like flikr.com and make an album. The pictures will be time stamped and if anything ever happens, like your landlord trying to blame you for something that might have been already there, like a crack in the window or a hole in the wall, or something of that sort, you'll have proof that it was already there when you moved in. The pictures you took after you moved in are a good reference for if you ever need to use your renter's insurance. Remember to take pictures before you move away too, just to cover all grounds.
10 Things To Know
Goodwill and local thrift shops are a great place to start to get all kinds things you'll need like kitchenware, dishes, pans, kitchen appliances and furniture of all sorts you might need. People donate stuff like this all of the time when couples move in together or for those just looking to update the look of their kitchen. Craigslist.com and kijiji.com are worth a look as well. Dollar stores are another great place to visit too.
Pay attention to the direction of your windows. East facing windows will get a lot of morning sunlight. It's good if you're a morning person. West facing windows get the afternoon sun. This could make it more expensive to cool down in the summer. It could also cast a glare on the TV and computer screens. South facing windows let in more sunlight in the winter when the sun is lower. North facing windows don't get any direct sun and lose heat in the winter. The north/south thing applies if you live in the northern hemisphere.
If you think the apartment you're scouting is in a bad neighbourhood, take a drive around the apartment at night. Do it at different times, on different days and you'll get a feel for the kind of people who come out at night, what kind of noises you might have to deal with and get a general idea of what the neighbourhood is really like.
If you don't own a vehicle, look up the bus schedules for that area. Google where the grocery store, hospital or walk-in clinics are, restaurants and other places that may be important to you, and you can get a feel for what's around you.
Check the water pressure. Make sure you have a cell phone signal.
Reading the terms/contract is critical, look up the general and unique rules of living in the building (you might be surprised).
Look out for grounded electrical outlets and make sure everything works. All of the electrical outlets, light switches, phone jacks, water faucets, fridge and stove and so on and so on. Check the cupboards. You might see evidence of infestations or mice/rats. Look under sinks for water damage and soft spots in the wood. Prep up - buy a plunger and draino, and stock your medicine cabinet. You're best having it now than needing it and not having it when the store is closed. Ask about pet and smoking policies. Ask the manager what the most common complaint is from tenants and if there were any crimes reported in the building.