As I’m entering my first apartment showing in the heart of Allston, I am introduced by the stench of stale beer and a box of old Chinese take out. Fast forward three months later, and I am watching my favorite show in my favorite apartment with amazing roommates. How did I get from point a to point b? An informative and helpful realtor.
1. Where do you see yourself most comfortable: Do you need parking or public transit? Are you looking for some green grass or a sidewalk? Choose which location will make your life easier.
2. Ask the neighbors what it’s like living there: While I was at a few showings, I asked the neighbors or current tenants what it’s like living there. How is the landlord and the management company? Does everything from the water pressure to the kitchen fan work? Ask what it’s like living in that neighborhood? Weigh the pros and the cons.
3. Find a realtor that understands exactly what your looking for: As a recent college graduate with little income, I was looking for something inexpensive in a location with great public transit. Create a list of must “haves” and “wants” and ask your real estate agent if you can get these in your budget. If a lot of your must “haves” don’t fit the budget then you may have to change your search a little bit. A good real estate agent will give you realistic expectations to save you time and stress.
4. Make sure you budget for the future: Think about the extras. How much are you going to spend on groceries? What about cable or that monthly Netflix subscription. You don’t want to be spending your entire paycheck on rent. Ideally you want to be spending about 30 to 35% of your monthly income on rent.
5. Understand Sacrifice: If you are paying for a fabulous location, you might need to sacrifice some kitchen space. Or if you want a huge living room, you may not be able to be close to public transit. Understand that you most likely will need to sacrifice something on your “want” list.
Renting your first apartment is an exciting experience that should not leave you disappointed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. These tips should help you become renter savvy and find the best apartment you can afford. Happy Renting!