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Helpful Tips for Finding Your First Apartment
You've lived at home, you've lived in a dorm, but now that you're searching for an apartment just for you, where do you begin?
Transitioning from college dorm life to having your own apartment can be exciting and overwhelming. Don't let stress get the best of you. Instead, let the experts at Experience show you how to get started on an apartment search.
1. Know How Much You Can Spend
Sure the enormous house with the pool, 2 decks, and a backyard the size of a football field would be great for having all your friends over, but can you really afford the rent and still buy food to serve at your poolside parties? Probably not. The first step in finding your ideal place is to figure out how much you can afford to spend. Remember, you'll need to factor in expenses like paying utilities, buying food, and furnishing your new place.
Most experts recommend planning to pay 25-30% of your take home pay as rent, though in some higher cost areas that could run to 35 or 40%. You must take all of your monthly expenses (including credit cards, transportation costs, and student loan payments) into account.
Set a budget and stick to it when looking for your new apartment. Knowing how much you can realistically spend will help you weed out places you can't afford.
2. Know what you Need versus what you Want
Once you've worked out your budget range and know how much you can afford to spend on your new apartment, it's time to figure out the essentials you have to have in your new place.
Sure, a private roof-deck with stunning city views (want) would make you the envy of all your friends, but will that really matter if you sacrifice an off-street parking space (need)? Trust us, after a day of hard work, the last thing you want is to drive around your neighborhood looking for a space just to park your car. Setting priorities and focusing on meeting your needs (not your wants) will give you more definition in your apartment search.
3. Expand your Search Beyond the Newspaper
Don't restrict yourself to just what's available in the local newspapers. Expand your search to include apartment listing services, bulletin boards, and get the word out to friends you're looking for a new place. If you live in a big city and you know the neighborhood you'd like to live in, ask Doormen at buildings you like, if they know of any vacancies in the building. You may think that all you have to do to find a great apartment is to search through the newspaper but don't neglect other sources of information that could connect you with your new home.
With a budget mapped out, a list of your needs, and more than just the newspaper to rely on, you're well prepared to find your first apartment.
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