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Installment 6- Adulting 101: Apartment Living

This piece is for my young Millennials who have graduated from college, and find themselves asking “okay, now what?” We are going to discuss the things you need to know to get an apartment.

Now before we begin, I would like to preface by saying this, I am not a fan of paying rent. For new college graduates, I strongly recommend staying at home for as long as you can stand it. Use that time and income to pay down your student loans, and then go towards your next financial goal, whether it’s getting a car or buying home. Your future self will thank you later, for when your credit scores rise, from a lower debt-to-income ratio (how much debt you have compared to how much income you have), and you generally feel “lighter” from decreasing the weight of student loans breaking your back.

However, with that being said, I understand that living at home, is not a feasible situation for everyone. The purpose of this series is to inform, so you, my readers, can make the best-informed decision for your situation, and no one knows that better than you. Okay (steps down from soap box), let’s get to why we’re here, apartment living.

Now by this time, you may have seen a few apartments, whether occupied by family, friends, or from an online search. You’ve started to picture what you want, don’t want, décor etc. However, have you considered how much space you need? If you’re comfortable with continuing a dorm like lifestyle, then you may be able to get by with a studio apartment, which is the cheapest, and smallest, of apartment types.

What areas would you like to live in? Be mindful of your surroundings. With any form of real estate, the three key things are location, location and location. Now since you’re renting, you won’t have to worrying about buying and selling your domicile, but you will have to worry about the type of life you’re looking to lead. What type of businesses surround the complex? Are you looking for a night-life area, with nearby bars? Are you okay living by a school, with several children accompanied by high traffic areas in the morning and afternoon? What do the police-reports look like for the area? Is it somewhere you’d feel comfortable living alone? Some areas may have a lot of police traffic, but the reports, which are public record, can tell you the nature of the police activity. For example, if the majority of the reports are a noise disturbance or false fire alarm triggers, then they may be something you’re able to tolerate, for cheaper rent. But if the reports, read things like repeated burglary and homicide, then you may want to reconsider your options.

What is the commute going to be like going to work? Is it nearby public transportation? If you have a car, is it on the street parking only, or does the complex have a parking lot? Or as resourceful Millennials, there’s always the ride-sharing service option if needed. These are a few things you should consider when researching your apartments, but one of the most important things, is price point.

Depending on your area, a one bedroom apartment could range anywhere from $600/month to over $1,000/month. When you’re looking at apartments, you should multiply the rent by 3, and ask yourself if you have that money to get into a lease. Why multiply the rent by 3 months? Because when you get into a lease, the landlord will typically require 3 months of rent up front: first month, last month and a security deposit, which is usually equal to one month of rent. In other words, if you’re looking at apartments that are $700/month, you should have $2,100 ready to give upfront. Same idea, to rent that’s $1,000/month, be prepared to shell out $3,000. Keep in mind, you still need money in your account, for transportation, food, and basic survival items.

In terms of credit scores, the minimum most complexes are looking for is 620. To view your credit scores, or for tips on how to build them up, then read my piece “Adulting 101: Credit Building.” Apartment living is a great solution for an uncertain future. It provides the flexibility to pick up and go without the ball and chain of a mortgage. Especially in an uncertain job market, flexibility is beneficial if an opportunity arises that may not be in the same zip code as your current residence. Stay loose and stay prepared my friends.

Enjoy the rest of your day, and remember, luck is just when opportunity meets preparation.

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