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8 Tips for First-Time Renters: From Budgeting to Finding the Perfect Apartment

Author: Kasee Godwin
Date: 05.18.2023

8 Tips for First-Time Renters

Renting an apartment for the first time can be daunting, but you can make the process smoother with the right tips. Here are 8 tips for first-time renters to help you navigate the process.

1) Determine Your Budget

It’s essential to understand your budget before you start your apartment search. 

Generally speaking, your rent should not exceed 30% of your income. This is based on an affordability measure used by many housing organizations, including the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

Consider monthly ancillary fees like utilities, parking, renter’s insurance, and pet fees when creating your budget. You will also want to account for moving costs like application fees, movers, and transfer fees. 

One option to explore is security deposit alternatives, such as those offered by companies like Qira, which can help renters avoid needing a lump sum payment.

2) Use Online Resources to Help Find Apartments

The Internet offers a wealth of resources to help renters find apartments. Websites like ApartmentList,, and are great sources to search for apartments and provide helpful information such as rental rates, reviews, pet policies, current specials/concessions, and neighborhood guides. 

Be sure to visit these sites and take advantage of the wealth of information available.

3) Consider Your Needs and Research Neighborhoods

Consider your needs and create a list of must-haves, such as the number of bedrooms, pet-friendliness, or proximity to public transportation. 

Research neighborhoods that meet your criteria using tools like AreaVibes or Walk Score. These sites provide useful information about neighborhoods, such as crime rates, schools, and walkability.

4) Tour Apartments

Once you’ve narrowed your search, it’s time to schedule a tour of apartments in person. Touring apartments will give you a better sense of the space, the community, and the neighborhood. Take your time during tours, ask plenty of questions, and note any potential issues, such as water damage or broken appliances.

If your schedule makes it challenging to visit communities during a regular 9-5, ask about any virtual tour options. Many properties offer virtual tours that you can take from the comfort of your own home. This can save you time and allow you to tour apartments on your schedule.

5) Read the Lease Carefully

Before signing a lease, make sure to read it carefully. Leases can be lengthy and filled with legal jargon, but it’s important to understand what you’re agreeing to. Look for clauses about maintenance and repairs, late fees, and the length of the lease. 

If you’re unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to ask your property manager for clarification.

6) Budget for Additional Costs

In addition to your monthly rent payment, several other costs are associated with renting an apartment. These include application fees, pet fees, parking fees, and utilities. Make sure to budget for these additional costs, as each apartment community has varying rules and associated fees.

7) Secure Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance is designed to protect your personal belongings in the event of theft, fire, or other disasters. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to protect your belongings and provide peace of mind. Make sure to include renter’s insurance in your budget and plan to purchase a policy before moving in.

Note that many apartment communities require an active renters insurance policy during the duration of a lease. These communities likely will not be able to give you the keys to your apartment until this policy is in place. Ask your property management team if a policy is required and if there is a liability insurance minimum. 

8) Get to Know Your Property Manager

Your property manager is responsible for maintaining the apartment and community amenities and addressing any issues. Make sure to get to know your property manager and establish a good relationship from the start. 

Get excited!

Renting your first apartment can be exciting, but being prepared is important. By following these eight tips and using resources like online apartment search websites and neighborhood guides, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect apartment and enjoying your new residence.


Kasee Godwin

Position: Director of Marketing
Social Networks

Kasee is the Director of Marketing for Qira. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate marketing industry, including 10 years on the client side. In her spare time, she enjoys reading science fiction, exploring new wineries, and fostering Golden Retrievers.

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