How to Rent Your First Apartment - The Right Way

Posted 2 years ago in BUSINESS.

Learn how to rent your first apartment the right way.

How to Rent Your First Apartment - The Right Way

Step One: Look at Apartments That Fit Your Budget.

Renting your place sounds easy, right? Just start searching on, take a tour or two, and move in. But suppose after you move in, you discover you’re in over your head. After eating ramen for every meal and keeping the lights off, you realize you can’t afford your new place! What went wrong? You had a budget. Okay, you went slightly above, but those floor-to-ceiling windows … you fell in love at first sight and decided you’d make it work somehow.

You’ve committed the fatal mistake of looking at apartments out of your budget … every place after “the dream apartment” will pale in comparison. Save future you from a year of ramen! Before you start looking, make a budget and stick to it. Here’s the golden rule: If you can’t afford the rent, don’t look at the apartment.

So, what can you afford? Here’s a simple way to find out:

  1. Write down the amount you get in your paycheck per month (this is your net income – what you bring home after taxes, etc.)
  2. Deduct your current bills from the above amount (credit cards, car payment, student loans, gym membership, etc.)
  3. Add in unexpected expenses, such as new tires on your car or a trip to the doctor for the flu. A good way to do this is to add 10 to 15 percent to your expenses. So if your current bills total $800, add $160 to that.
  4.  Estimate what you expect to spend on utilities and groceries (the amount you’ll need to keep the lights on and food in the fridge). The general rule of thumb for apartment renters is $200 for utilities or seven percent of your annual income. Groceries are typically about $250 a month for one person.
  5. Estimate what you’ll want to have for “extras” like dinner out with friends, a night at the club, movies, and all of the things you pay to do regularly.
  6. The amount left over is the amount you should budget for your rent. If you don’t think it will be enough, go back and look at areas where you can cut, but be realistic. Can you honestly give up a game day at the sports bar with your best buds?

Step Two: Know Your Credit Score.

Do you know what your credit score is? If you don’t, find out – you can do this for free through If you have bad credit or no credit, the property manager could refuse you -- or they could increase the security deposit based on your credit score. If this is the case, you might want to consider a cosigner.

Wait. What’s a cosigner?

A cosigner is someone who signs your lease along with you, guaranteeing that if you don’t pay your rent, he or she will take responsibility. They don’t live in your apartment, they just assume your debt. Being a cosigner for someone is a major commitment, so make sure you have all of your facts and figures (your detailed budget from above, for example) when you approach someone and ask them to do this. Typically, a family member or a close friend will act as a cosigner.

Step Three: To Roommate Or Not To Roommate? That Is the Question.

If, after crunching the numbers and analyzing your credit, you determine that you won’t be able to do this alone, you might want to consider getting a roommate. On the one hand, having someone to split the costs can lessen the burden of renting and make life just a little bit easier financially. But living with another person can present an entirely new set of challenges, especially if you don’t particularly like their quirks and habits.

If you do decide to get a roommate, the landlord may want you both on the lease – and they will likely check both of your credit histories. Also, know this: the landlord might increase the rent due to the roommate's additional "wear and tear" on the apartment. They can also increase your security deposit, so be sure to ask about the apartment community's policy concerning roommates so there aren't any surprises.

If you decide a roommate is a right move, it’s time to set up roommate interviews! Here are some questions to ask potential roommates:

  • Are you a smoker?
  •  Do you have pets? Do you want a pet?
  •  Do you have any allergies?
  •  What is your daily schedule?
  • Are you a morning person or a night person?
  • Do you consider yourself neat or messy?
  • How important is it to you to pay your bills on time?
  • Have you ever been late on rent?
  •  Do you enjoy cooking at home or dining out?
  • What do you like to do on weekends?
  • What’s your policy on overnight guests?
  •  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  • What are your pet peeves?
  •  What do you consider the most important trait in a roommate?
  •  Do you mind sharing things or do you prefer to keep everything separate?

Once you’ve decided on a roommate, you might want to draft a roommate agreement (Bazinga, Sheldon Cooper, you didn’t invent it). A simple agreement will keep you both on the same page, keep disagreements to a minimum, and clearly outline your responsibilities.

Step Four: Know What You Want, What You Need, and What’s the Difference.

As a new renter, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are a few answers as you head out to look at apartments:

  • What amenities do I need, and do they cost extra?

Don’t be blinded by the love of a great rooftop deck or a spectacular clubhouse – those types of amenities often come with fees attached. Make sure you ask how much it costs to rent out the clubhouse or the deck for parties and events. You can avoid the fees by never using these amenities, but then those "extras" shouldn't factor into your decision-making.

Don’t be dazzled by the bells and whistles. That great loft with soaring, floor-to-ceiling windows could cause your heating and cooling costs to soar, too. Sure, those windows look amazing. But during the winter and summer, all of those windows could make it more difficult to regulate the temperature, leading to higher utility bills.

Granite countertops and a fireplace? Luxury amenities are nice to have. But they often come at a higher cost. If you rarely use your kitchen and are never home long enough to light a fire, why spend the extra money on these features?

Ah, there it is – a rental with a yard! Backyard BBQs, here we come. But before you sign the lease, make sure you discuss that extra "land" with the landlord. Will they maintain it? If so, is there an additional fee? Are you responsible for the upkeep? (If so, consider the costs of a lawnmower, watering, etc.)

  • Where should I look?

Location is crucial. While you might be tempted to choose that cozy apartment in the suburbs because of the lower rent, you might end up paying much more in time and fuel expenses if you have a long commute to school or work. And if you are interested in having restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and other attractions nearby, keep that in mind as you search.

  •  What if I want a pet?

Even if you don’t currently have a pet but think you might want one shortly, you’ll want to make sure your potential rental is pet-friendly. Make sure you ask the leasing agent about pet fees, extra deposits, and pet rent.

  • How do I do laundry?

In an apartment community, you’ll likely have either an on-site laundry facility or washer/dryer connections. If there are connections in your apartment, you can purchase your washer and dryer and take them with you when you move out.

  •  How do I get Wi-Fi?

Many apartment communities don’t offer free Wi-Fi, but you can get this through your Internet provider. Ask the leasing agent if they have a preferred provider – they often offer a discount to encourage residents to use their preferred provider. If not, search for the service providers in your city and contact them directly.

  • How do I pay rent, and what happens if I don’t pay on time?

You’ll pay rent at the same time every month. Ask the leasing agent if they allow tenants to pay online through an online leasing system. If not, you’ll have to trek down to the leasing office every month. You can pay by credit card, debit card, electronic transfer (ACH), or by personal check.

If you can’t pay your rent on time, be upfront and tell your landlord. Ask if they’ll accept a partial payment or if you can negotiate payment arrangements. Make sure you get any arrangement in writing from the landlord, just in case there’s a dispute later. But try not to be late – the landlord can send you a “notice to end the tenancy early” letter (an eviction notice) even if you are just one day late. If you pay within 14 days, it cancels the notice. If you are consistently late, the landlord might send you a different form that terminates your residency at the end of your term.

Step Five: Head to the Leasing Office! You’re Ready.

Now that you’ve found a place within your budget that has the amenities you need, it’s time to sit down with the leasing agent. You’ll want to bring some things along with you, such as a payment stub, reference letters, and your checkbook.

Did you know that a typical security deposit could be up to two months' rent? In addition, many apartment communities charge rent for the first and last month – in advance. Make sure you've saved up three times your monthly rent, plus moving expenses before you sit down with the leasing agent.

You can negotiate your lease! Be prepared – research similar rentals in the neighborhood to see what the price difference is. If your timing is flexible, try to rent near the end of the month – landlords are more likely to make a deal then. You might also have more negotiating power if you move during the winter, when fewer people are looking for apartments, as opposed to the summer.

If you plan on staying in your apartment long-term, ask the property manager if you could sign a longer lease for lesser rent. If the landlord won’t negotiate on rent, you could ask for other things – a freshly painted apartment, new flooring, or a better parking spot.

Read your lease. It’s long, it’s boring, it’s filled with rental legalese, but take the time to read it. Make sure you understand it and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the lease – especially any items you don’t understand or want more information about.

Once you sign on the dotted line, you’ll get the keys to your new place! And since you know exactly what the terms of your lease agreement are and you’ve created a budget that works, you’ll live happily ever after – or, at least, until it’s time to renew the lease. (Yes, they typically will increase the rent by 3 to 5 percent when you renew … but that’s another article.)

If you need more information about how to rents your first apartment we suggest visiting this website

https://Stanovi-Skopje.Mk/. The management of this Real Estate Company will teach you how to rents your apartment the right way.


Stanovi Skopje

Living in Macedonia