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Guide To Renting Your First Apartment

Whether you’re heading to college, planning to live with a friend, or moving in with a significant other, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your first apartment. So that you know exactly what you’re about to get into, read through this how-to guide before you start.

Getting started

Before you look at any apartments, make a short checklist of what you’re looking for in a rental. Create a list of features in order from most important to least important.


Look at your monthly budget and determine the maximum amount you can afford to spend on monthly rent. Ideally, your rent should be at or under 30% of your after-tax income. But that’s not the only cost you have to factor into your budget. You need to account for other rental costs and living expenses, such as: advanced rent, rental deposits, fees, HOA, utilities, etc.

Young man searching on laptopBegin The Search

With your wish list and budget in hand, you’re ready to start looking for places to live. Check out rental listings on sites like Zillow,, or Once you’ve compiled a list of possible apartments, contact each landlord or property manager and start hunting!

What to look for

  • Price: Make sure to find out exactly what’s included in the listed price. Will you be billed separately for utilities? Do you need to pay for a parking spot?
    • Also consider: Application fee, Background check fee, Credit check fee, HOA fee, Amenity fee, Pet fee, Security deposit.
  • Apartment location: Walk the neighborhood and also check out each floor of the apartment building. Consider going back at different times of day and test commute times. Check the noise level inside and outside.
  • Maintenance: Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance? How long does it take to resolved? Pay close attention to the way the landlord answers to get a better feeling for how the apartment is taken care of and if they seem trustworthy.
  • Common areas: Are the common areas in the building kept up well? Is the building clean and in good condition?
  • General condition: Flush the toilets, run the sinks and showers, check out the electric sockets and try out the windows.
  • Cell phone reception: Make a phone call while in the apartment to see if you’ve got good reception. 

Seal The Deal

  • handing over the key to the apartmentRead the Rental Agreement: These agreements include important information like payment due dates, community rules, maintenance obligations, terms for breaking your lease, and more.
  • Final Walkthrough: The previous renter might have broken something moving out or taken something with them that was negotiated with the purchase agreement. Document/take pictures of how the aparment is (damages, etc.) prior to moving in.

Finally, if everything checks out, you’re ready to sign the lease! Buying an apartment will likely take you a few months. Don’t rush anything! If you miss out on the “perfect” unit, you’ll probably only have to wait a few days before something else comes along that equally excites you. Best of luck in your apartment search! 


Sources and enhanced by Credit Union of Denver

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