Renting Your First Apartment – The Need To Knows!

Finding your first apartment is an exciting milestone. You finally have a space all your own to do whatever you want – from decorating your living room however you like to hosting a dinner party for all your friends. Like many of you, I found my first apartment hunt to be overwhelming and stressful. This step-by-step guide can help you navigate the search and find the perfect first place.

  1. Establish your rental budget.

Budget GrowthThe last thing you want to do is get stuck in an apartment you can’t afford, so it’s important to set a budget and stick to it. A general rule of thumb is that you should never pay more than 30 percent of your take-home pay on housing, including utilities, Internet and cable. If you have limited funds and are finding it difficult to find an apartment within your budget, you may want to consider getting a roommate to share expenses.

  1. Determine which neighborhoods work for you.

Houston_map_NeighborhoodsYou should feel safe and happy in your neighborhood. Think about what you need (for example, grocery store, gym, public transportation) and how far you’re willing to travel for it. If you’re not working nearby, you’ll also need to consider your commute to and from the office.  We’re working on a blog post of the best Houston area neighborhoods. Stay tuned!

  1. List your must-have apartment amenities.

the_belvedere_Spring_Houston_apartmentsBefore you start your apartment search, determine which amenities are must-haves and which are conveniences you can live without. Keep in mind that you may need to make some concessions to stay within your budget. Some common must-have apartment amenities include on-site or in-unit laundry, a dishwasher, parking spot (or two if you have a roommate), an outdoor space, air conditioning,  fitness center or community pool.

  1. Start your rental search.

houston_apartment_rentalOnce you know what you’re looking for and how much you can afford, start searching for apartments. Try looking at, using Google Maps near your favorite neighborhoods, or even contact realtors.  Contact properties that seem like a good fit to set up appointments for tours. Ask people or places you trust, like your favorite storage property in Houston, for recommendations. :-)

  1. Tour apartments that meet your search criteria and budget.

apartment_in_budgetThis is your potential home, so treat your first visit like an inspection. Turn on all the faucets to make sure the pressure is to your liking and gauge how long it takes for water to heat up. Check the locks on the doors and windows of the apartment to ensure they work properly. Bring along a phone charger so you can check that all the outlets are working. If there is laundry on-site, ask to see the facility to make sure it is conveniently located and you feel safe.

  1. Be prepared to fill out a rental application and pay a small fee.

apartment_rental_contractWhen you go to view apartments, you should be prepared to fill out a rental application, especially if you live in a city with a rental market where apartment shopping is competitive. Bring your checkbook for the application fee, a check stub to prove your income and a photo ID.

  1. Read your apartment lease (and make sure you understand it) before you sign on the dotted line.

read_contract_lease_apartmentWhen you find a great apartment, you may be tempted to just go ahead and sign, but not carefully reading your apartment lease can lead to trouble down the road. It’s a legal document that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

As you read through your apartment lease, make sure it answers the following questions:

  • Are pets allowed, and if so, is there a deposit or pet rent required?
  • Are there restrictions on the number of roommates?
  • What is the apartment maintenance process?
  • Are you allowed to make any customizations, like hanging shelves or painting walls?
  • Which utilities are you responsible for paying?
  • What are the consequences of breaking your lease before the term is up?
  • If any of these questions are unanswered, ask your new landlord to put the answers in writing before you sign the lease.

 Note: You should also make sure any pre-existing damage to the apartment is detailed in your lease so you aren’t held responsible when you move out. Take time-stamped photos to document any damage as well. You don’t want to be liable for the dents and dings and lose that security deposit! This is some of the best advice I can give you!

Post By Ashley

Ashley is the Administrative Assistant at the Corporate Offices of Amazing Spaces.  She’s been a member of the A-Team since October 2014.  Ashley is known throughout the office for her happy smile and positive attitude.  Ashley is a vegetarian and has pretty Amazing style. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and Ashley would be happy to respond! 

8 Responses to “Renting Your First Apartment – The Need To Knows!”

  1. Jenifer
    August 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I have to relocate next month to Houston and looking for some short term rental. I have thoroughly read too many post to get efficient apartment in Houston, And I think your “need to know” post will finish my surfing.

  2. Taylor Wright
    March 11, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I like how you mentioned finding an apartment that has the amenities that you’re looking for. My girlfriend and I are looking for a new apartment that comes with a pool before summer. I’ll be sure to keep researching new apartments that we can afford.

  3. Taylor Hansen
    August 3, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I’m wanting to find a nice apartment that I can move into next month that has a pool and fitness center. It’s good to know that you should check the locks on the doors of different apartments. I’ll be sure to find an apartment that is newly built and has a pool with it.

  4. Michaela Hemsley
    May 25, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for these tips for renting an apartment. I am going to need to find an apartment soon. I will have to make sure to tour the ones I am looking at like you suggested.

  5. Shammy Peterson
    June 9, 2021 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for pointing out the importance of setting your budget when renting an apartment. As you said, you must never pay more than 30 percent of your take-home pay on housing. My husband and I are planning to rent a luxury apartment near our workplace for convenience reasons. We could not afford to drive more than 2 hours every day to get to work. Since we want to ensure that the apartment that we will find can fit our monthly expenses, we will talk about our budget.

  6. Charlotte Fleet
    July 30, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    I like how you said that it is important to establish your budget when looking for an apartment. My sister is trying to find the best apartment for her. I will make sure she has a budget plan beforehand.

  7. Amy Murphy
    August 11, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    It caught my attention when you said that it is important to set a budget and stick to it. As you said, you must never pay more than 30% of your take-home pay. My husband and I are planning to rent an apartment for our son who will enter college next month. We need a place that is near to his school, so he won’t need to travel for hours every day. Your tips will surely help us find the right apartment unit that will meet our budget, especially that our income has been restricted since last month.

  8. Bea A
    August 28, 2021 at 1:26 am

    It made sense to me when you said that you must make some concessions to stay within your budget when looking for an apartment. My husband and I are planning to find student housing for our 16-year old daughter. We wanted her to be near her school, so she won’t have to take long trips to get to and from her school. Your tips will surely help us to talk about our budget to find the right apartment.


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