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Apartment Living

10 Things People Never Tell You About Your First Apartment

10 Things People Never Tell You About Your First Apartment

Whether you’re ready to fly the coop from on-campus housing, recently graduated or simply stepping off on your own for the first time, moving into your first apartment can be a wonderful and exciting experience.

It’s an opportunity to carve out and design a home that feels truly yours, and to physically manifest this new step you’ve taken. But because there are more than a few ways to get it wrong, here are 10 things people never tell you about your first apartment that will make you an “adulting” pro.

1. You have to be realistic about what you can afford

One of the most common errors committed by new and eager renters is the underestimation of monthly costs. When hunting for your new home, it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that the maximum price you’re able to spend each month is the amount you’re able to dedicate to rent.

However, renters would be well-advised to subtract their anticipated food, utilities, travel and other incidental costs from their total monthly budget before settling on a price range for an apartment.

2. If you plan to stick around, plan ahead

contract

If you anticipate staying put for longer than one year and don’t want to stomach moving costs again any time soon, it’s helpful to know that your rent will likely go up when you renew.

If you push yourself up against your maximum possible rent in year one, you’ll be hard-pressed in year two. Leave yourself some room on your first lease or sign for longer than one year!

3. Higher rent may be worth included utilities

Like all rules, there are always exceptions and factors to consider. A rent figure which may be prohibitive at first glance may actually be worth it for a host of nonobvious reasons.

Setting aside community amenities, your sticker shock may actually be unwarranted if your rent includes what would otherwise be additional, standalone costs. Ask your property manager if things like cable, water or electricity are included before you dismiss a unit out of hand!

4. Know what’s important to you

dog

More is not always better. Before you hunt, take some time to reflect on what’s most important to you in your new home. Is a pool critical? Do you have a furry friend who needs somewhere to walk?

The answers to questions like these will help you both select and eliminate properties. Just because an amenity is offered doesn’t make the property any more valuable to you in the long run.

5. Tour the unit

When it comes to apartment hunting, pictures are not worth a thousand words. Property managers will always put their best foot forward in digital marketing materials. The rooms will always look well-lit and the facilities will always look well-maintained.

Trust but verify. Remember that this apartment will be your home, and even something as subjective as the “feel” of a room can make a huge difference once you’re moved in.

6. Investing in a tool kit will pay dividends

tools

You’ll be shocked how often this comes in handy. For everything from hanging pictures to measuring for furniture, buying your first real set of tools is absolutely essential in your first month and beyond.

And treat the definition of “tools” loosely. You’ll want to have batteries and mounting hooks on hand to go with your screwdrivers and mallets. The hex wrenches included with furniture sets are woefully insufficient, believe me.

7. So will kitchen trappings

I can’t stress this enough. When you first move in, it will be hard to fight the urge to treat your new living arrangement like a never-ending sleepover. But delivery adds up and the fridge will not stock itself.

Invest in a decent set of utensils, plates and glasses. Outfit yourself with pots and pans, and then learn to use them. What’s more worthy of your time and energy than food? I didn’t think so.

8. Cleaning has a whole new meaning

dishes

Alas, the days when a tube of Clorox wipes and a trusty Dust Devil were sufficient are over. It’s time to learn how to clean. Your new apartment will have more types of surfaces and will require more attention than you’re used to.

But it’s remarkable how cathartic cleaning your apartment will be once you accept that dust will remain without your intervention and that glass cannot be cleaned in the same way as your floor. A good vacuum is never a bad idea, and even sinks need a good scrub on occasion.

9. Pest control is a must

Your community may offer pest-control as part of your rent, on request or not at all. If either of the latter two is true for you, get and stay on top of it. Request pest control once each month or make sure you have bug spray and ant traps on hand.

There’s nothing worse than turning a light on in your new, beautiful apartment and watching little critters scurry away. And once it starts, it’s very hard to get under control, so a little prevention goes a long way.

10. Your new home should reflect your stage of life

bedroom

Finally, remember that this move marks a beginning. This apartment is not a dorm room and it’s not your childhood bedroom. It should reflect who you are right now and who you plan to be.

One need not break the bank to design an apartment that’s both cozy and grown-up. Use online resources like Dwell and garage sales. Invest in durable furniture and accessories that make your new home feel truly yours. As a bonus, if you do it well, you shouldn’t have to re-furnish for many years to come.

Published at Thu, 06 Feb 2020 13:10:15 +0000

3 Things to Know About Apartment Lease Penalties

Lease penalties can vary from insignificant to quite costly.

Lease penalties are the fees that must be paid when one vacates a rental before the end of their lease. Lease agreements are usually for a specified term — perhaps one month, six months, nine months or a year.

Anytime the lease is ended before the specified term is up, there will likely be a penalty. The amount required for lease penalties is usually set out in the lease agreement.

1. Lease penalties can be avoided

Lease penalties can be avoided. The most straightforward way to avoid a lease penalty is to complete the entire term that’s required in the lease. Beyond that obvious choice, you may be able to avoid the penalty by subletting your unit for the remainder of your lease period. In a sublet arrangement, a short-term tenant occupies your unit in your place for the remainder of your lease term under an agreement called a “sublease.”

2. Lease penalties are sometimes quite high

Lease penalties can be for a rather high amount in some cases. However, some state laws do have caps or rules regarding maximum allowable lease penalties. Many lease agreements require tenants to pay the amount of rent for the remaining months in the lease to end the agreement early. Other lease agreements may require a specific percentage of the remaining rent. Lease agreements will often even have two separate amounts and require either the higher or lower of the two, depending on how much of the lease was actually completed. It’s all up to the property owner’s discretion.

3. There may still be a way to get out of your lease early

The only way that you can get out of a lease early, without paying a required penalty, is if the property owner lets you out of the agreement. Check your lease to see if there are any situations that would allow you to leave early. And when all else fails, simply ask. You never know how the property owner will respond.

writing a check

Make sure you know of all possible lease penalties

The best way to handle lease penalties is to know what to expect. The best time to learn about lease penalties is before signing the agreement. If you’re planning on ending an existing lease early, read the agreement to see what kind of penalty you should anticipate.

Additional resources

Published at Thu, 06 Feb 2020 13:00:31 +0000