Advice for First-Time Renters

With graduation season upon us, the economy can expect an influx of new renters as these young adults make the transition from high school to college, trade schools, or the workforce. For many of these people, this will be the first time renting an apartment or living independently. While many skills are taught in school, something that many of us must learn right away on our own is how to set up a new living space and stay on top of our responsibilities. By following the sage advice of parents and other trusted adults, as well as the following tips, you better prepare yourself for independent living.

Lease Terms

Before signing on the dotted line, be sure you are fully aware of the rental terms. For example, find out how much of your deposit you can realistically expect to get back, what day of the month rent is due, and what types of payments are accepted. If you are just starting out and considering places that require a higher credit score, have a co-signer in mind. It is also helpful to figure out what exactly is included in your rent, such as utilities.


For most rental units, even if you find that water and electricity are not included in your rent, they are likely already hooked up to your unit and ready to use once you move in. While discussing utilities, make sure to double check which appliances are included and which you will need to provide on your own, such as a washer and dryer.

However, unlike those types of utilities, you may have more wiggle room with the type of TV and internet service you choose. For example, DISH network deals may be a better choice for you depending on your budget and viewing preferences. As with any major installations, be sure to check with your landlord first.


If you’re planning on having your pets with you, it’s important to check with the landlord’s policy before making any major decisions. Often, the number and type of pets are limited. Even if they are allowed, you can also expect to pay an additional fee or deposit, and possibly be required to have insurance for your animals. As an extra consideration, think about how well your pet will adapt to the space you will live in.


When you are apartment hunting, remember you must also think about the community and the type of tenants that will be living next door. For example, if you prefer a more relaxed ambiance, younger neighbors who throw loud parties, or neighbors with rowdy children may not be the right fit for you. It can also be helpful to get to know neighbors, especially if you plan on going out of town and would like to entrust someone to help look over your unit.


Understanding the parking situation for your rental can give you realistic expectations and enable you to practice good etiquette as a tenant. While you may have enough space for your own vehicle, pay special attention to where guests may be allowed to park, without disturbing other neighbors.


Unlike many single-family units that may likely have an individual mailbox up front, bear in mind that this may not be the case for you especially if you are renting a dorm room, apartment, or condo. Knowing where the outboxes are and where you can retrieve your own mail at the end of the day can save time and confusion later down the road.

Despite all the considerations that must be made before moving to your own place, independent living can be an exciting time for your young adult life. By making these considerations in advance, you can look forward to better enjoying your new home, or home away from home.

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