Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where do you plan to live?


Have you decided where you are going to live when you move out on your own? If you go to college, are you interested in the social aspects of a sorority or fraternity, or would you rather live more independently in a dorm or an apartment? Each choice has pros and cons that should be carefully weighed.

At some point in your late teen years or early twenties, you will probably choose to rent a home or apartment before purchasing one. Renting is smart because it gives you the flexibility to move out free and clear, and most young adults need that flexibility. When you own a home and then want to move away, you have to deal with the hassles of selling your house.

However, there is a point where buying is the better choice because your payments go toward your mortgage – which means they go towards your ownership of the house. Whereas, monthly rent payments just go straight to the person or company renting out your home or apartment. The key point is to start organizing your life, your finances and your credit so you are able to buy a home, condo or property when you are ready!

We’ll focus on renting first! There are many considerations to renting. Please fill out the following worksheets to answer the questions to help you meet your renting needs.


1. Where do you want to live?

2. How much can you afford to spend on rent?

3. Will you have a roommate(s)?

4. Do you have special needs that must be met? For example, do you need wheel chair ramps; do you have or want to get a pet(s); is the location close to your work, school, or bus stop?

These questions will help you start your search.

Next, look online or in your local newspaper to find apartments or houses for rent. There are numerous sites available to assist you in this research. Visit the Learning Life ‘members only’ website to find valuable website links. Otherwise you can look in the classifieds section of your local newspaper. Or you can look under “apartments” in your telephone book. If you are interested in renting a house you can check with property management companies and find out if there are any houses within your price range. Young adults usually have roommate(s) in order to afford a 2 or 3 bedroom house.

Be sure you understand the approximate location before going to view the property. Most importantly, be sure it is within your price range before you take the time to go view it.

While looking at the places you are interested in, document the following information so you can compare them. Bring a folder or a bag of some kind to keep your information organized. Many rental offices will give you brochures and other information to take home.




Number of Bedrooms

Number of Bathrooms

Square Footage

Are Utilities Included

Monthly Rent

Money due at move-in

Is it first and last month’s rent?

(Be sure to understand the terms.)


Appropriate bedroom size

Appropriate bathroom size

Air conditioning


Type of flooring (linoleum, carpet, wood, etc.)

Living room only

Living room/dining room





Garbage disposal



Security alarm


Apartment building or house

Pets allowed

Designated parking spot

Covered parking

Garage for parking

Parking surveillance

Laundry facilities on location



Neighborhood watch/ safety

Distance to work or school

Distance to necessary shopping

Distance to friends/family


  • What does your instinct say about the place?
  • What do the neighbors seem like?
  • Is there any reason to think it will be too loud or that there will be loud pets disturbing you? If this is a concern, drive by the apartments on a Friday or Saturday night and see if it is much different than during the daytime.

(There are many factors that you won’t be able to know unless you live there, but it doesn’t hurt to try and get an accurate feel for the place before moving in!)

  • How long is the lease?
  • Can you stay for this length of time?
  • Is it long enough?

You can usually renew your lease quite easily. Let’s say you only signed a six month lease and you’d like to stay for another six months. The apartment will let you make that decision – they will not kick you out to get someone else in there if you want to stay. However, you must be upholding your end of the contract at this point: Do neighbors complain about you? Do you pay your rent on time? Have you snuck a pet in that isn’t allowed? As long as you are a good resident, they will usually allow you to extend the lease.

There’s something very important to consider when you choose a short lease, such as six months or nine months. The leasing company can raise the rent while you are living there; but they won’t impose the new price until you choose to renew your lease. If you still choose to renew, you will have to sign a new contract and agree to pay the new rent price. This is a very common reason for residents to move out of their apartment complex at the end of their lease, even though they are otherwise very happy living there.

Well this is plenty of information to get your apartment search started! Please read Part 2 to learn about signing a lease....

Bye for now curious cats!

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