Renter’s Checklist: Factors to Consider


Moving can be one of life’s most stressful events. Not only will you have to pack all of your belongings into boxes, and haul those boxes into your new place, but you’ll also have to ensure your finances are in order. Having your finances in order is especially important, as moving can really take a strain on them, as well as your relationships. Simply put: nobody likes moving, yet, we’ve all been there.

When it comes to your move, the first thing you must do is to search for a new place to call “home”, which isn’t nearly as tumultuous as it sounds. While finding the right rental is definitely a BIG decision – it can actually be quite exciting and downright fun. The most important aspect of finding a new place is taking the following factors into consideration.

Factor #1: Location, Location, Location

The first, and most important, thing to consider when selecting a new rental is its location. This will affect everything from your commuting time, to where you eat, to where you shop for groceries. It’s always a good idea to check for crime, nearby amenities, local schools, and commute times before making the plunge.

Factor #2: Setting a Realistic Rental Budget

Before you fall in love with a space, make sure you can actually afford to pay all the costs involved with renting the place each month, because once you’ve signed on the dotted line it’ll be virtually impossible to change your mind. This includes accounting for the following:

  • Monthly rent
  • Utilities: gas, electric, sewage, water, garbage, etc.
  • HOA fees (unless they’re included in the rent)
  • Neighborhood specific fees: dining, transportation, entertainment, etc.
  • Non-necessity costs: cell phones, internet, cable, etc.

A formula for finding a magical rent number specific to your unique situation is: divide your gross income (before taxes and deductions) by 30 percent. This will determine the maximum amount you should spend on rent costs each month. With this number you can begin your search for the perfect rental.

Factor #3: Total Move-In Costs

One of the most important factors to consider, besides monthly budget, when making your dream rental a reality is to consider the move-in costs that will be required of you. These costs include rental deposit, security/damage deposit, pet deposit/fee, utilities deposit(s), parking fees.

On top of all these deposits/fees, property management companies often require first and last month’s rent, in advance. To put it simply: a $1,500/month rental could have a move-in cost as high as $4,000 – if not more. We’re not even going to dive into your actual moving expenses, except to say, it’s best to start saving now.

Factor #4: Determine Your Rental Criteria

What are you looking for in your next rental? It’s important to figure out how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need – and can afford. Do you want an apartment, townhome, or detached home? What are your deal breakers? Determine what amenities you can live with and those you can live without. How long do you plan on residing there? If you plan on being there more than a year, some landlords will work with you, even giving you a break on your monthly rent.

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