Post-Grad Apartment Hunting Made Simple
Getting ready to graduate college means many things, and one of those things may be finding a place of your own. There are many considerations, including where you will be working, if you may need to move again soon due to an ongoing job search, and your budget.
It is easy to get focused on what you want your first place after college to look like and the amenities it may have, and forget the important things to consider. It’s understandable to be excited and anxious for your new post-college life to begin, but there are very common pitfalls the new college grad typically falls into while taking this big step.
Here are the top mistakes to avoid:
- Searching for your new place too soon
Typically you should begin searching for your apartment no more than three weeks before the anticipated move-in date.
- Underestimating total costs
Getting your first apartment can be a big financial adjustment from dorm life where you paid by semester, and an even bigger adjustment from living at home. Research how much apartments cost in the areas you are considering moving to, and make sure to factor in what is included and what you might pay for additional amenities on top of rent. Don’t forget moving costs too!
- Underestimating life’s expenses on top of rent
Most people think about the cost of their monthly rent, but that’s not the only expense you’ll have living on your own. Think about other expenses like internet access, your cell phone bill (which may go up if you are no longer on a family plan), renter’s and car insurance, utilities (if they’re not included in your rent), and groceries. And remember, there are ways to save on your daily expenses like brown bagging your lunch or socializing with your friends at your new apartment – where a bottle of wine is about the same cost as a glass at the local bar.
- Not knowing your credit score
Landlords will probably look at your credit report as part of the application process. Things like credit cards or car and student loans are impacting your credit. It is wise to know what your credit score is and what the report looks like, so you have no surprises and can catch any errors. Credit Karma is one way to look at it for free.
- Forgetting to make a list of apartment requirements
Don’t rush to find an apartment without contemplating what you need. Is it close to work? How much space do you really need? Is it close to friends and/or family? Do they allow you to take on a roommate should you need to?
- Not knowing what you need for the application to rent
You will probably need to have a current pay stub or two, an idea of your annual or monthly income, and perhaps a bank account statement.
- Poor choices in a roommate
Varying schedules and lifestyles can feel very different once you are living with someone. If you’re getting roommates, you must consider their tolerance for mess and ability to budget, as well as social activities that could impact your ability to happily coexist.
- Failing to get agreements in writing
Even if your roommate is your best buddy, write out responsibilities and agreements made regarding the living situation, how bills will be paid, and who is responsible for what. Hopefully you’ll never need to reference these for any reason, but you’ll be glad to have it all in writing if things go bad.
With a little preparation and some great real estate advice, you can be ready to move into your own apartment and avoid some of these common post-grad real estate mistakes.
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