Whether on your own or with roommates, moving into your first apartment is a huge milestone. You will love the freedom and independence of having your own place. But it also comes with a lot of financial responsibility that might take you by surprise. Here’s what you need to know about being financially prepared before moving into your first apartment:
Set a Budget
If you’ve never done so before, living in your first apartment is the perfect time to establish a budget. It will be much easier to plan for and pay your bills when you know exactly how much money you have coming in and going out every month. And of course, you’ll need to be sure you have your rent money ready to go, on time, every month. No exceptions.
Realize Responsibilities Go Beyond Rent
Most experts agree that your rent payment shouldn’t exceed 30% of your take-home pay. But beyond being able to afford rent, there are a number of new expenses you may have not had before. These include utilities such as electricity, sewer, water, natural gas, trash pickup, renters insurance (don’t worry, it’s cheap) and internet service. And don’t forget, you’ll also be responsible for stocking your own refrigerator and pantry, too.
Get Creative with Your Surroundings
Finally! A space of your own to decorate exactly how you want. That’s one of the best parts of moving into your first apartment. But it can also be one of the most expensive. Instead of spending a big chunk of money all at once on all-new furniture, it’s time to get creative. Look into getting hand-me-down pieces from friends and family, scout estate sales for cool finds, and hit up flea markets and thrift shops. Remember, you can always add a coat of paint or slipcovers to give old pieces new life. And be sure you know your landlord’s rules for things like painting and nail holes in the walls. You don’t want to lose your security deposit down the road for small mistakes.
Choose Roommates Carefully
Having roommates is a great way to make living on your own more affordable. But they have to be the right roommates. When choosing people to share your living space, be sure to take into account their reliability, employment status, schedule, and lifestyle. For example, if you’re an extrovert who loves to have friends over and they’re an introvert who prefers a quiet space, you might run into challenges. Read more about how to avoid financial conflicts with roommates.
Understand Your Responsibilities
Do not sign your lease until you have read it and understand everything you are responsible for. If you’re not sure about something, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You want your first experience renting an apartment to be a positive one. Be sure to review the conditions for getting your security and cleaning deposits back, as well as the rules involving pets, vehicles, general conduct, and whether or not there’s a grace period for paying your rent. And be sure to be on the lookout for any of these potential red flags for renters.