Searching for a new place can be fun. It can also be frustrating. But with the vast availability of resources on the Internet, it shouldn’t be too difficult for those who have a basic understanding of how to navigate the worldwide web. For those who either don’t know how to use the Internet or don’t have access to it, the process might be much more complicated. If you are unable to use the Internet, either consider asking a friend or relative to help you look online or check your local phonebook to see if you can find a reputable buyer’s agent to assist you in locating a rental property and possibly negotiating terms based on your wants and needs.
There are, however, things to keep in mind. As cliché as it sounds, it is helpful to list your wants and needs. Once you determine your wants and needs and are successfully able to distinguish a “want” from a “need,” you should prioritize them. Obviously, you should prioritize all of your “needs” over all of your “wants.” Your dream rental will have everything you both want and need, but the issue then comes down to affordability. Not many people can truly afford their dream rental. That’s OK. Do you really want to spend all of your hard-earned money to live lavishly only to realize a year later that you spent tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for a comfortable lifestyle but no equity? Maybe it’s best to save for your dream home, but that’s a personal decision based on your goals and lifestyle. The preceding questions are simply things to consider.
Turning back to affordability and cost, there are many other costs to consider besides the actual cost of rent. How much and who is responsible for utilities? Will you have to commute to work? How much will it cost to commute, not only in actual cost but also in opportunity cost? Will you need cable or Internet, and how much will they cost? Further, what is the opportunity cost of renting this particular unit. Are you sacrificing other things to live, for example, in a convenient downtown location? These are just a few questions you want to learn the answers to before signing any kind of contract.
Once you have answered the preceding questions and it comes time to fill out a rental application, you might want to consider having an attorney review your rental agreement before you sign it. An attorney can help you protect your rights as a tenant and prevent you from agreeing to anything that might come back to haunt you in the event of a dispute. Depending on the market, your prospective landlord might be more than willing to negotiate your lease terms.