Tips for Every College Grad on Apartment Hunting
How to Find a Rental Before Graduation
Most college graduates will have lived in some combination of residence halls, dorms, and on- or off-campus apartments during their college career. For those who have lived on campus for the last four years or are looking to relocate to a new city after commencement, finding an apartment during a final semester of classes, thesis writing, and job searching can be a hefty task. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, consider seeking assistance from an essay writing service or other professional services to help manage your education workload. Here are some tips on how to track down a brand-new place.
When to Start an Apartment Search
It may seem wild, but searching for a place as early as possible is best. While many property owners will only ask their tenants to renew in early spring, larger property management companies already have this process underway. Even if a soon-to-be college grad is still determining where they will be living after commencement, it is a good idea to start looking at listings and compile a list of units that fit one’s criteria and budget.
Where to Find an Apartment
The internet has made searching for an apartment accessible – it’s a matter of avoiding being wholly overwhelmed with the choices.
- com and skyfiveproperties.com offer hundreds of apartment listings, searchable by state or city.
- The National Association of Residential Property Managers provides an online portal to locate property managers up to 100 miles from a specific zip code.
- Forums on websites can give potential renters feedback on the neighborhoods of an unfamiliar city.
- Newspaper classified sections usually feature properties for rent or sale.
Remember that the best network for finding a place can sometimes be alums, friends, family, employers, or graduate programs.
How to Choose an Apartment
Identify Your Needs
Before you dive into the search, figure out what you’re looking for in an apartment. Consider factors like location, size, budget, and amenities. If you have a job lined up, you’d want to live close to your workplace. If not, consider an area with good employment prospects in your field.
How to Use Apartment Finders
To help narrow the focus if there is an overwhelming number of choices, consider the answers to the following and use them as search criteria:
- Size: number of bedrooms/bathrooms, square footage, etc.
- Cost: how much is too much (taking into consideration student loan payments, car payments, insurance costs)
- Neighborhood/location: public transport options, parking availability, safety
Remember that you’ll also need to budget for utilities, groceries, transportation, and other living expenses besides rent. As a rule, your rent should not exceed 30% of your monthly income.
Understand the Rental Process
When you find an apartment you like, you must complete an application and prove your ability to pay the rent. This can be tricky if you still need to start your job. In such cases, you might need a co-signer or be able to show savings or a job offer letter.
Prepare the Necessary Documents
You’ll typically need identification, proof of income, references, and possibly a credit check. Having these ready can speed up the application process and increase your chances of securing the apartment.
Visit the Apartment
Only rent an apartment after visiting it first. Use the visit to inspect the condition of the apartment and the building and get a feel for the neighborhood.
Read the Lease Carefully
Ensure you understand all the lease terms, including the lease’s length, the amount of the security deposit, the policy on pets, and the conditions for breaking the lease.
Having a roommate can help cut costs and make a more expensive apartment affordable. Just ensure you choose someone you’re compatible with and trust.
As college grads enter the complicated world of rental housing, the best practice is to be cautious and do research ahead of time. Assessing one’s needs in a new living space will save time in the long run and ensure that post-graduation living is comfortable.
At every stage of the search and rental process, there are some key points that potential renters should always keep in mind.
- Keep any agreements with a landlord or property owner in writing, and ensure they are signed and dated.
- It is essential to visit a unit before signing a lease. Potential renters should consider asking a friend or relative to investigate some units if this is impossible.
- Ensure there are no questions or discrepancies in the lease document, and do not sign a lease before asking for any clarifications.
- Be careful when selecting a roommate. Some property management companies provide a roommate matching service, but nothing beats a candid conversation about sleeping habits, cleanliness, and any special requirements.