Tips & Guides / Moving Guides

How to Rent an Apartment: Tips for Recent College Grads

By Bri Hand | Jun 16, 2021
College graduate celebrating

If you’re a recent college graduate, you may be looking into renting your first apartment. This is a great step when you fly out of the nest at your parents’ house and want to set out on your own for the first time. 

Whether you’re moving to another state or sticking close to home, this still may be uncharted territory for you. After all, talking with property managers, searching for apartments, filling out rental applications, and waiting for credit checks are all things you’ve never had to do before! To help, we’ve compiled some simple tips and tricks that will help get you through renting your first apartment

Decide on a budget 

Housing is a huge part of your budget, so you need to be practical about what kind of apartment you can afford on your monthly income. It’s a general rule that your rent shouldn’t cost more than one-third of your annual income. Once you crunch the numbers, only search for neighborhoods and apartments in your price range, and be realistic about whether you need a roommate to cut down on costs. There’s nothing more stressful than trying to make each month’s rent when you can’t actually afford it. Knowing your budget up front will help set you up for success. 

Check your credentials

When you apply for a lease, your landlord will look up some information about you. They’ll check your credit score to see how reliable you are at making payments, and may even do a background check. You don’t want to lose out on your dream apartment because of bad credit, so look into your credit report to see if you can work to increase your score. A higher proof of income or credit score can also help lower your application fee and security deposit, or even alleviate the need for a cosigner. 

Figure out your roommate situation 

As you move into your first apartment, it’s a good idea to decide whether you want a roommate. This decision often comes down to finances. If you need help paying rent long-term, another person can help with this. Multiple-bedroom apartments are also cheaper when you split the cost when compared to getting a one-bedroom apartment. This is a personal decision that you’ll need to know before you put in an apartment application. 

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Three roommates watch TV together on their couch in their apartment.

Trying to decide whether a roommate is right for you? Check out our blog post, “The Pros and Cons of Living With Roommates.”

Decide which amenities are non-negotiable

Many apartments come with great amenities, like stainless steel appliances, in-unit washer and dryer, pools, or rooftop patios. When you’re searching for a place, decide which amenities you need and which are a luxury. For example, if you have a cat or dog, a pet-friendly apartment building is a must. Decide what is most important for you in your new home and overall apartment community. 

Set a meeting

Most apartment hunting starts online. Once you find a place that looks good, it’s time to set up a meeting with the leasing office. Come with a list of questions and see whether you like the vibe of the community and apartment members. Seeing an actual unit will be important before you make the ultimate decision. From there, you can officially put in your application to lease an apartment

Set up your other necessities 

Even though you’re committed to an apartment, you aren’t quite done. You’ll also be responsible for setting up other necessities like electricity, water, Wi-Fi, and renter’s insurance. Your apartment complex will often help you get started, but you’ll be responsible for setting up the rest. 

Is there an easier way to rent? 

When you’re a first-time renter, it’s clear that the apartment rental process can very quickly get complicated. Landing provides thousands of apartments across the country that can be booked online in minutes with no long-term commitments, so you can live on your terms. Learn more about how Landing works, and browse through our available furnished apartments today.

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Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.