So, you’re about to move into your first college apartment. As the apartment search begins, the world is your oyster. A new apartment means no parents, no R.A., no quiet hours, no dorm dining hall food… anything is possible once you have that shiny new apartment key. But don’t let all that freedom go to your head; there are still some basics you should keep in mind during your apartment search. You can avoid rookie mistakes with just a little bit of planning, and trust us—better to take the right steps at the beginning of the apartment search than suffer the consequences of a bad apartment or an unsavory roommate later. Read on for the most common mistakes first-time student renters make during the apartment search process.
Mistake #1: Choosing a good apartment in a bad neighborhood.
Looking at an apartment in a sketchy area? Remember, all the amenities in the world won’t make up for the fact that you won’t feel safe walking to and from the bus stop at night. Before you have your heart set on that apartment, search for some alternatives that are reasonably-priced, still have decent perks, and will allow you to feel safe while you spend your school year there.
Mistake #2: Leaving an apartment tour feeling under-informed.
Apartment tours can be fast and overload you with information if you’re not careful. Plus, if you’re going on multiple apartment tours during your apartment search, it may be hard to keep all your options straight. Be sure to ask questions about the lease before you decide to end your apartment search, and write down everything you learn on an apartment tour so you can make an informed decision later.
Mistake #3: Not reading the lease thoroughly.
Some apartment leases can look like small novels, which can be daunting. Once you get to the end of your apartment search, we know you want to just sign the lease and get it over with. But hold up. You should, at the very least, skim every page to make sure you know what you’re signing. You should also check all of the dates, names, and payment amounts that you’re agreeing to. Apartments can make mistakes when drawing up leases, and if you don’t double-check, you may end up with the wrong lease term length or a higher rent than you agreed on. If you’re afraid you’ll miss something amidst the dense legalese, get a parent to read through the lease, too. Last, make sure you get a copy of the lease for later reference.
Mistake #4: Forgetting the costs that come with apartment moving.
Moving into and out of your dorm room alone has taught you that moving your belongings can be an expensive pain in the butt. But what you might not consider when you are planning to rent your first apartment is the amount of up-front fees that come with moving into an apartment. Budget your funds accordingly for that first big hit to your bank account. If you don’t have the car space or a friend with a pickup truck, you’ll have to pay to rent a moving van or to hire movers. Next, you’ll need to pay a security deposit and any other upfront fees for your new apartment, including parking, a pet deposit, and your first month’s rent, right away.
Mistake #5: Accepting any old roommate.
While the potluck-style roommate selection process can be a blessing in the craziness of the apartment search, it can also have some unfortunate consequences. Your apartment management does the work for you, sure, but you might get stuck with a roommate whose lifestyle is so different from yours that the friction between you is downright aggravating. If you are searching for a roommate, be sure to meet and interview potential roommates who contact you so you don’t accidentally end up with your polar opposite.
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