Top tips for renting an apartment for the first time

When you move out of the dorms or your parents’ place, it’s not like you get a first-time renters guide or brochure handed to you…but it sure would be helpful, wouldn’t it?

From finding a place to making sure you get your security deposit back, when it comes to tips for renting an apartment, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top six tips for renting an apartment for the first time.

Find your new apartment.

It used to be simpler in the old days, from what we hear. You’d just look in the paper and all of the available apartments or rental houses in your area would be listed in the classifieds. These days, however, you’ll probably have better luck searching online sites like StreetEasy, Craigslist, and more to find some of the best tips for renting an apartment—and to actually find the home that’s right for you.

In addition to looking on those sites, post on social media. Tell your friends and family that you’re looking for a spot in case they hear of someone moving out. They may also have tips for renting an apartment for the first time based on their own experience. You might even be able to buy some of the furniture they’ve been wanting to replace, saving them (and yourself) the hassle of moving a sofa.

Make a checklist and bring a friend.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed and excited when you’re looking at a potential place, so we recommend both bringing a friend with you as well as writing down a checklist of things to ask the landlord.

Some things to ask about include water pressure, neighbor volume and schedules, pet policies, smoke detectors, whether you can paint, air conditioning, exterminators, and more. It’s a lot, we know, so we’ve made a list of the top questions you should ask your landlord before moving in.

Just make sure you write down the answers; after seeing a few places, it’s surprisingly easy to mix up which one had a newborn next door and which one came with built-in wifi. As for your friend? An extra set of eyes on your search is useful to catch some things you might have missed—like how, in your excitement to live over a bar, you forgot to ask about how late (and how loud) they keep the party thumping.

Get your money ready.

Here’s a tip that should be in every first-time renters guide: Most apartments require more than just the first month’s rent to secure the place, and some places require at least three months’ worth of rent, commonly referred to as “first, last, and security deposit.”

Some might just require a holding deposit. (You’ll likely get your security deposit back if you’ve kept the place in good shape at the end, but we’ve got more information on that below.)

If you’re living in a bigger city where real estate is hot, come with your checkbook ready to secure the place, as places can go off the market quickly.

If you need a guarantor or help paying your security deposit, find out if your building offers Jetty Deposit and Jetty Lease Guaranty to help with that.

Ready for Jetty Renters Insurance?
Cover your phone, laptop, jewelry, and more. Plans start at just $5/month.
Learn More

Have a moving day plan.

After renting for a few years, many people have (or know someone who has) a crazy moving story, so making a plan for your moving day can help ease your mind and prevent mishaps, like your moving truck getting towed. Check with your landlord or building about parking or freight elevator rules first, as sometimes restrictions on those can be unintuitive and cause moving day headaches.

Also, as most leases start on the first of the month, you might find that movers and moving trucks are at a premium on those weekends, so if you can, save time and money by moving on a weekday.

Plus, if you’re moving in with roommates, it might be helpful to move on different days to keep your place from getting too crazy with boxes and people.

Hiring movers? Something that we think is important to include in a first-time renters guide is the topic of gratuity. Remember that tips aren’t always included in the standard quote, so you’ll need to have some cash on hand. Not hiring movers and hoping your friends will help? Unpack the soda and beer first, put it in the fridge, and relax and enjoy it when you’re all done.

Consider your security deposit.

Our tips for renting an apartment don’t just apply to move-in day. It’s also a good idea to think about moving out and what that means for your security deposit.

Before you move in, double-check with your landlord about what it takes to get your full security deposit back when you move out. The general rule is that you’re expected to leave the place in the good condition you found it in, with an allowance for reasonable wear-and-tear; however, some landlords are fussier than others about this for things like painting the walls or installing shelves.

Before or when you sign your lease, ask your landlord if there’s anything he or she wants you to be particularly cautious about or issues they’ve had in the past.

Get insured with the right renters insurance for you.

Once you’ve worked so hard to find the right apartment and figured out the details, it make sense to cover your investment. This is where renters insurance comes in. Finding the right policy for you doesn’t mean spending extravagant monthly fees to cover items you don’t even have.

The right renters insurance policy for you will be one you can customize to your needs, whether that’s getting coverage for your electronics, protecting you valuables, and more.

And it covers more than you think—Jetty Renters Insurance has plan options that’ll cover incidents like getting bedbugs, cracking your phone screen, breaking your laptop, having your bike stolen, or losing your engagement ring—whether it happens inside or outside of your home. Our final tip? Enjoy your new place!