Are you considering getting an apartment and looking for some first apartment tips? Here are some things I seriously wish I knew before moving into my first apartment.
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If you’re thinking about getting your very own apartment, you’re probably looking for first apartment tips. Renting an apartment for the first time can be such an exciting thing, but there are also some things you need to know before signing your first apartment lease.
When I moved into my first apartment, I had no clue what I was doing. I was in college and just didn’t want to live in the dorms again. I found what I thought was the perfect place, but it actually turned into a nightmare for me.
In this post I’m giving you my best tips when it comes to looking for your first apartment so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. After this you will be ready to become a first time apartment renter!
This post is all about first apartment tips.
The Best First Apartment Tips You Need To Know
Tips For Looking For An Apartment
1. When Budgeting, Factor In Expenses
When I moved into my first apartment, I was hit with a bunch of random expenses that I hadn’t expected at all. Things like the wifi setup, the cost to have the electricity put in my name, admin fees, etc. Make sure you do your research beforehand of everything you’ll have to pay for, and budget for all of it.
What you get charged extra for can vary by apartment, so make sure you ask and find out everything that you’ll be paying for beforehand. For example, a lot of apartments will say things like “wifi included,” but they just mean that you are able to set up wifi in your apartment. You’ll still be paying for it. Things like this can be misleading, so be sure to ask!
2. Check Apartment Reviews
I really wish I would have done this before renting my first apartment. It seemed okay on the surface, but it was actually terrible and had tons of issues that I would have known about had I read the reviews first.
Some people complain just to complain when leaving reviews, but when it comes to apartments, take the reviews really seriously. Especially when they mention things like bugs, bad management, maintenance not fixing things, etc.
3. Tour Beforehand
Do NOT sign a lease before touring an apartment. It is so important to tour in person, but if you absolutely can’t, you should be able to set up a video tour.
You can see a lot of red flags when touring in person that you won’t be able to see from pictures they’ve posted on the internet. They are putting their best foot forward when it comes to listings online so you won’t be able to see things that are wrong unless you tour.
4. Check EVERYWHERE For Bugs
I really, really wish I would have known to check the cabinets, fridge, stovetop, drawers–literally everywhere–for bugs when I moved into my first apartment.
If you check these places, you’ll likely be able to tell if there is an infestation of any kind. A lot of the times apartments that are infested with bugs will spray beforehand so you won’t see any live bugs at the time, but if there is an infestation, you’ll probably find dead bugs somewhere.
It is so gross to think and write about, I’m getting itchy even writing about it, but it is so important to check so you don’t move into a bug infested apartment without knowing (speaking from experience).
5. Check For Mold
Another thing that is important to check for is mold. A lot of the time if you take a look at the air vents you’ll be able to tell if there is mold growing in the apartment or not.
6. Make Sure Everything Works
This is something I never even thought about checking because, duh? I’m paying for this apartment, shouldn’t everything in it work? But, no. It is important to check so you don’t end up like me, moving into an apartment where the fridge/ heat/ air/ hot water heater/ etc, doesn’t work.
I know it seems like a lot to check, but better safe than sorry!
7. Ask About Noise Levels
Along with the other issues I mentioned to look for when looking at reviews, make sure you look for complaints about the noise levels.
I’ve seen a few people close to me move into apartments and only find out about their noisy neighbors, thin walls, or noisy neighborhood, after they’ve moved in. So, I’d recommend just asking about it on your tour, reading the reviews, or even asking your potential neighbors.
8. Research The Neighborhood
Before moving in somewhere it’s important to research the neighborhood. This website has a great list of options when it comes to researching the safety of neighborhoods.
9. Make Sure The Lease Agreement Is Fair
This is something I really wish I would have thought about when I first started renting. I signed a lease at a college apartment complex and didn’t really read the fine print. About a month before move-in I decided to move states, so I didn’t need the apartment anymore and wanted to pay to break my lease.
HOWEVER, it turns out that my contract didn’t give me the option to pay to break my lease. So basically I’ve been paying rent for this apartment every month for 2 years that I NEVER moved into.
This is a common thing with a lot of student housing. When I signed the lease I had every intention of moving in, but life happens (things like a global pandemic lol), and you don’t want to be screwed if it does. So, just be sure you educate yourself about lease agreements so you know what you’re getting yourself into!
10. Get Everything In Writing
If you’re negotiating with the complex manager or landlord or you come to an agreement to change any terms of the lease, make sure you get it in writing. If you don’t get it in writing there is basically no evidence that the landlord agreed to it and they can make you pay the original price.
Tips For When You Move In
11. Take A Video Of The Whole Unit Before You Move In
After you sign a lease and decide to move in somewhere, it is really important to take a video of the entire unit before you move all your stuff in to document any pre-existing problems or damages. When you move out, a lot of apartments love to charge you for any and all damages. Make sure you document everything beforehand so you’re not charged for something you didn’t do.
12. Make An Appointment To Set Up Wifi
This is something I didn’t realize I would have to do until after I moved into my apartment and was without wifi. I think most of the time they can set it up remotely, but I have had to have a person come in and set up wifi in an apartment before. So just make sure you set a time to get your wifi set up so you won’t be without it.
13. Change Utilities To Your Name
Your apartment complex should tell you everything that you need to put in your name. So don’t forget to do that if they tell you to or they could shut off your utilities until you do.
14. If You Pay Rent In Person, Always Document It
Another thing some apartments like to do is lose your rent payment if you pay in person, and then charge you extra for late fees by saying you didn’t pay. When I had to pay rent in person I would ALWAYS take a video of me dropping it off at the office to make sure if they did that I had evidence that I paid. Again, better safe than sorry!
15. If Something Stops Working, Send A Maintenance Request
When I moved into my first apartment I was so hesitant to send in maintenance requests because I didn’t want to be a bother.
However, if something stops working or you’re having problems, send in a maintenance request. You’re literally paying to have a livable, functioning apartment. It’s their job to make sure everything works!
16. If Maintenance Doesn’t Fix It, Get It In Writing
If you submit a maintenance request online or by calling the office and they either don’t come or don’t fix it, make sure you put the request in writing next time. Give them a copy and keep a copy for yourself. When it is in writing they are much quicker to fix it because you have physical proof of asking them to fix a problem.
17. Know Your Rights As A Renter
This is probably the most important point on this list. I really wish I would have known anything about my rights as a renter when I rented my first apartment, because like I said, it ended up being a nightmare. So, I would definitely recommend doing some research on that just in case.
18. Stock Up On Pantry Staples
When you first move into an apartment you’ll need to get all of your pantry staples, like spices, non-perishables, condiments, etc.
19. Install Extra Safety Measures
My last tip for when you move in is to install some extra safety measures, especially if you’re living alone.
This door lock prevents anyone from getting in from the outside (even people who have a key, which an apartment manager and maintenance will), and this door bar prevents forced entry. They are both awesome options for some additional security!
Tips For Decorating Your Apartment
Now that we’ve got all the super serious stuff out of the way, we can talk about the most exciting part of getting a new apartment…decorating! Here are my best tips for decorating your first apartment.
20. Facebook Marketplace And Thrift Stores For Furniture
Furnishing an apartment can be really expensive. You can find great deals on furniture on facebook marketplace and at thrift stores. I personally furnished almost my entire first apartment with stuff from the thrift store and it looked SO cute.
21. Ask Family And Friends If They’re Getting Rid Of Anything
Another thing you can do to furnish your apartment for cheap is to see if family or friends have anything they’re willing to give you. I personally got an entire bedroom set from someone who was looking to get rid of theirs! You never know until you ask.
22. Cheap Decor Options
If you’re looking for some cheap, cute decor, I have a post on some super cute affordable first apartment decor ideas! I’d also recommend looking at thrift stores and facebook marketplace for decor.
23. Fedex Has Cheap Poster Printing
My sister did a photo collage on her wall with tons of custom images for super cheap by using Fedex’s poster printing. I had no idea this even existed, so if you’re wanting to print out some wall art it’s worth looking into!
24. Level Up Your Apartment With Renter Friendly Decals
A super easy way to make a rental apartment look much cuter and more homey is to get some rental friendly decals that you can stick on the walls or floors if you aren’t allowed to paint. That way when you move out you can just take them off and won’t be charged for it! You can seriously make a cheap apartment look so much better with these.
25. Invest In The Ambience
Sometimes apartments can feel cold and just… not cozy or homey. My favorite way to make a new place feel like home is to create a soothing ambience.
These vines, these fairy lights, and this galaxy projector are my absolute favorite products for creating a really nice, cozy atmosphere in my house. If you spend money on anything for your apartment, I would seriously recommend investing in some things that will give your home a nice ambience so it feels like somewhere you can relax at the end of the day.
This post was all about must-know first apartment tips.
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