How To Rent an Apartment

Preparing to move out

Renting an apartment is a great idea for people who do not have the money or desire to buy a house or condo. Here are some of the steps to take and possibilities to consider if you'd like to rent an apartment.

  1. Narrow down your search by location. When you begin your search, chances are you will check out a few towns and cities. Spend time researching the various locales by reading community newspapers, talking with locals, and frequenting the shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes in town. If you do not like the feel of the town, or if the town does not provide you with essentials (parking, access to public transportation, great restaurants, proximity to work), look elsewhere. If you don't enjoy visiting a place, you won't enjoy living there.
  2. Come up with a wish list.  List the things that are important to you, and then try to order them by importance. Do you need laundry? Do you need to live on the top floor? Can you deal with carpets or do you need hardwood floors? These are all important questions to decide on before you start your search.  
  3. Does the landlord allow pets? If you have a pet make sure you tell the agent you are working with or the owner. Some places will not accept pets. If you have severe allergies, you may even want to find a building that does not allow pets.
  4. Is smoking allowed in the apartment? Similarly, if you are a smoker, make sure the apartment will allow smoking.
  5. Is the apartment furnished? Do you need furniture in the apartment when your move in or do you have your own? Only look at apartments that fit your furnishing needs.
  6. Find a good real estate agent. Obviously this is an optional step. Most real estate agencies have some fee structure for rental properties. They can range from no fee (where the landlord pays the rental agent) to a half-month fee or a full fee. Although you may want to avoid paying a fee, having someone else do the legwork for you can be helpful, particularly if the agent is honest and understands your tastes and price range. Give him a copy of your wish list and make sure he sticks to your budget and desires.
  7. Only look at apartments you can afford. Otherwise you are wasting your time and might end up dissatisfied with the apartment you ultimately choose.
  8. Look online. is a great resource for apartments.  There are fee and free listings on this site, and many posts have pictures of the units.
  9. Scour the newspapers.  Owners and real estate agents put rental listings in the newspapers on a daily basis.  The weekend edition is a particularly excellent paper to peruse in search of apartments.
  10. Determine the ideal duration of your lease.  Do you want a year-long lease? Are you planning to buy a place relatively soon and only want an apartment for a brief period of time? If you are working with an agent, tell her your requirements and she can show you suitable units.
  11. Sign the lease. Once you find the perfect apartment, it is time to sign the lease. Pay careful attention to the terms of the agreement. Ask the landlord or agent how much money is needed up-front.  Typically a landlord will require first and last months' rent or a security deposit. Once you are comfortable with the terms, sign the lease and make sure you retain a copy for your records.

  12. Put utilities in your name. If you are renting a place that does not include heat and hot water with the rent, make sure you put the utilities in your name so that you have them when you move into the apartment.
  13. Set up a moving date. Hire a reputable moving company or let your friends plan to help you on the big day. Remember, always plan on a longer move-in than you think and start packing early!    



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